Marie McAden



Santee Birding & Nature Festival to feature more than 40 field trips

Posted 4/25/2013 6:32:00 PM

If you’re into chasing snakes, spotting birds or kayaking in swamps, the Santee Birding & Nature Festival is your ticket to ride.

Now in its sixth year, the three-day event offers a Chinese menu of field trips with outdoor activities for every level of adventurer. Some 40-plus excursions and workshops are planned for the April 26-28 weekend. The schedule is so packed with nature programs, they’re starting a day early with a sunset tour of Lake Marion — the largest lake in the state.

As one might expect given the title of the festival, bird watching opportunities abound in a wide range of settings from the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest to the pristine ACE Basin to the McAlhany Nature Preserve. Several of the birding trips take place in the wee hours of the morning to catch the winged early risers when they are most active.

Natural history tours also are planned in such wildlife-rich destinations as Dewees Island, Francis Marion National Forest and Bulls Island. Add to that, kayak and canoe excursions that will take paddlers deep into a cypress swamp, along Lowcountry plantations, down the secluded creeks of Lake Moultrie and through the historic Santee Canal.

Then there are all the trips that fall into the “other” category, such as a butterfly tour in Santee State Park and an expedition in search of snakes in Cheeha-Combahee Plantation, home to the imperiled Eastern Diamondback Rattlesnake.

Most of the programs are free after you pay the registration fee of $25 for adults, $5 for youth 15 and younger and $20 for seniors 64 and older.

Some of the most popular trips fill up early, so sign up soon. To register or view the complete schedule of field trips and programs, click here