What to pack, when and where to go for a perfect day of bird watching.
Story By Sheila Paz
Looking for a fun hobby you can do anywhere, anytime for little to no money? Birding is a totally accessible activity for all ages and ability levels. Here in the Lowcountry there are more than 200 species of birds to see at parks, in preserves, at the beach and even in your own backyard. Here are a few suggestions for what to pack, when to go and where to go for a perfect day of bird watching.
What to pack
Nikon Prostaff 3S 8X42
For a beginner these binoculars are the way to go. Their light weight, clarity, brightness and color rendition will give you a great introduction into the wonderful world of birding. Nikonusa.com. $129.95
Swarovski EL 8.5X42
For those who have mastered the art of bird watching and want to invest in top-of-the-line binoculars, these are the ones. These binoculars have a large field of view, provide sharp, clear optics and are perfect for conditions with poor lighting. swarovskioptik.com. $2,632
National Geographic’s Complete Birds of North America
This is a great guidebook for bird watching. It is a comprehensive book that is the most updated source for all things birds, including identification, behaviors, habitats, calls and songs, migrations and more. barnesandnoble.com. $45
Merlin Bird ID
This free app is excellent for identifying birds on the go. Merlin uses your phone location to find where you are and provides a list of the birds found in the area. The lists have details about the bird, its song, calls and where they are located in the U.S.
Compact Guide to South Carolina Birds
Bring this book along with you on your birding adventures. It is a great resource containing birds from all over South Carolina. This guide includes pictures, facts, birding sights and a color-coded reference guide. amazon.com. $12.69
Other items to pack
- Insect repellant
- This issue of LOCAL Life
Where to go
Once your backpack is packed and ready to go, it’s time to select your bird-watching destination. Locals are blessed with plenty of options. Here are a few hot spots.
Hilton Head area
- Audubon Newhall Preserve
- Sea Pines Forest Preserve
- Harbour Town Pier
- Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge Historic Mitchelville Freedom Park
- Jarvis Creek Park
- Coastal Discovery Museum
- Victoria Bluff Heritage Preserve
- Altamaha Town Heritage Preserve
- Hunting Island State Park
- Port Royal Cypress Wetlands and Rookery
- Port Royal Boardwalk
- Widgeon Point Preserve
Birding in different seasons
Enjoy a leisurely walk around the different birding spots while listening to the calls of birds in their migrating/mating seasons. Keep an eye out for birds making their nests high up in the trees of your backyard. Check out the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge in the spring to see all the birds that migrate through Hilton Head.
The best time to do some bird watching is in the early morning before the heat of the day; same goes for the evening. Find a spot in the shade and get comfortable. By not moving around too much, the wildlife will be more comfortable.
Fall is the beginning of the great migration and can be a fun time to spot the different species of birds that journey to and through the Lowcountry. Peak migration is from September to October. Look for rare types of plovers, pipers and avocets.
Bundle up in the winter, and head over to Audubon Newhall Preserve. Winter is a great time to see birds coming down from the North to get their fill of the warmer weather and insects that travel down. Bald eagles feed and nest during the winter in the Lowcountry.