Santee Coastal Reserve
From Georgetown go south on US 17. In about 15 miles you will cross the South Santee River and enter Charleston County. One mile beyond the South Santee River Bridge turn left (south) onto Road 857, South Santee Road. Go south on Santee Road for about 1.4 miles and turn left at Lillypond Mission Baptist Church onto Santee Gun Club Road. The parking area is 3 miles on the right.
From Charleston go north on US 17 for about 39 miles. Turn right (northeast) onto Road 857, South Santee Road. Follow South Santee Road for 3 miles. Turn right at Lillypond Mission Baptist Church onto Santee Gun Club Road. The parking area is 3 miles on the right.
Birds to look for
Tundra Swan (w), Gadwall (w), American Wigeon (w), American Black Duck (w), Mallard (w), Mottled Duck, Blue-winged Teal (w), Northern Shoveler (w), Northern Pintail (w), Green-winged Teal (w), Canvasback (w), Redhead (w), Ring-necked Duck (w), Lesser Scaup (w), Bufflehead (w), Hooded Merganser (w), Ruddy Duck (w), Northern Bobwhite, Pied-billed Grebe, American White Pelican (w), Double-crested Cormorant, Anhinga, American Bittern (w), Least Bittern (s), Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Green Heron (s), Black-crowned Night-Heron, White Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Wood Stork, Osprey, Swallow-tailed Kite (s), Mississippi Kite (s), Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier (w), Golden Eagle (w), Merlin (m, w), Peregrine Falcon (m, w), Clapper Rail, King Rail, Virginia Rail (w), Sora (w), Common Moorhen, American Coot (w), Black-necked Stilt (s), Greater Yellowlegs (m, w), Lesser Yellowlegs (m, w), Least Sandpiper (m, w), White-rumped Sandpiper (spring), Short-billed Dowitcher (m, w), Long-billed Dowitcher (m, w), Wilson's Snipe (m, w), Bonaparte's Gull (w), Gull-billed Tern (s), Caspian Tern, Royal Tern, Forster's Tern, Least Tern (s), Black Skimmer (m), Eurasian Collared-Dove, Great Horned Owl, Common Nighthawk (s), Chuck-will's-widow (s), Loggerhead Shrike, Sedge Wren (w), Marsh Wren, American Pipit (w), Savannah Sparrow (w), Seaside Sparrow, Painted Bunting (s)
Santee Coastal Reserve is a great birding spot, mostly because it has three main habitats—old growth longleaf pine forest, freshwater swamp, and fresh or brackish marshland. The pine forest along the entrance road has all of the specialty species of longleaf pine forests. Many birders have gotten their lifer Red-cockaded Woodpeckers and Bachman's Sparrows along this drive. From the parking area you have a choice of hiking into a freshwater swamp (with a good boardwalk) to a large heron rookery, or hiking out into the extensive marshlands to look for ducks, rails, shorebirds, and other wetlands species. Many rarities have been found at Santee Coastal, including Ruff, Black Rail, Yellow Rail, and American Avocet.
Biting insects can be terrible here on any warm day. Be prepared.