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Clarke County, Georgia
September 28, 2010
January 30, 2006
Who would think a national wildlife refuge could be on the beach?
The Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge lies between Skull Creek (the Intercoastal Waterway) and Mackay Creek as you enter onto Hilton Head Island from Highway 278. It's 4,053 acres are used to protect and provide habitat for threatened or endangered species. They are also a nesting habitat for resident and migratory birds. Four islands form the refuge; Corn, Little Harry, Big Harry and Pinckney Island, with only Pinckney Island’s 1200 plus acres being open to the public.
Pinckney Island was developed into a working plantation by the Pinckney family starting in 1804, which removed the maritime forest and drained and tilled the rich, fertile soil in order to produce sea island cotton. The plantation flourished until it was inhabited by Union troops during the Civil War. After the war ended, the plantation did not prosper and was sold in 1937 to James Bruce, a New York banker who planted hardwood and pine trees, made ponds to attract waterfowl, and restored over 70 percent of the farm fields. He used the land as a hunting reserve, and even though it was sold in 1954, the new owners continued to use the land as a game preserve. In 1975 the land was donated to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to be used as a national wildlife refuge.
We visited the refuge on a warm, sunny December day after Christmas and thoroughly enjoyed our walk down the wide graveled roadway with cameras in hand, looking for any signs of wildlife. We strolled past salt marshes, tidal creek basins, huge old trees supporting large strands of Spanish moss, and several benches that could provide hours of solitude and bird watching.
One of the first trails we took was to Ibis Pond, which is 1.2 miles round trip. The trail is not a narrow dirt trail, but is instead an extremely wide mowed path through the grass. As we strolled around Ibis Pond, different species of ducks were darting in and out around each other, playfully fighting and doing head dives for food. Robert, with his animal-spotting trained eyes, found an alligator stretched along a fallen tree, soaking up the warm South Carolina sunshine. A little farther around we found another alligator lying on the bank, and on the opposite side of the pond was a tree full of white Ibis. We ventured on up to Osprey Pond, which was 3 miles round-trip.
Pinckney Wildlife Refuge is a popular place to walk or ride a bike. The natural marshland provides a perfect opportunity for photography enthusiasts, and best of all there is no charge to enjoy this natural environment. Take water with you; there also are no bathroom facilities or shelter in case of increment weather. Saltwater fishing and shell fishing are allowed from boats only, which can be launched at the public boat ramp across from the refuge entrance.
Go ahead, do something different; stop at Pinckney Island and enjoy yourselves.
From journal Christmas in Hilton Head
October 24, 2003
Paul was great--he showed us mammoth spiderwebs with spiders as big as a half-dollar coin right next to the parking area. We then went on a walk to an area that had oysters, fiddle crabs, marsh grass, and wild birds. Going further down the trail led us to a natural pond with all kinds of birds and one good-size alligator. The natural environment was beautiful.
Make sure that you hit a restroom before the tour, as there are none on the island. Bring a bottle of water with you, as none is supplied. Paul had a lot of interesting stories about the background of the island. One was how Henry Ford had used the Spanish moss from the trees as a stuffing for the upholstery for the first Ford made. As it worked out, he did not realize that the moss was full of small insects that normally cannot be seen by the naked eye. This caused one of the first automobile recalls.
From journal Hilton Head in September
by yvonne jane
powder springs, Georgia
September 4, 2003
From journal Beach Fun
Kansas City, Missouri
August 6, 2003
From journal Hilton Head in December