Marie McAden



Santee Birding festival a sure bet for nature lovers

Posted 4/21/2011 9:19:00 AM

If avian adventures are your thing, the Santee Birding and Nature Festival April 29-May 1 is an event you won’t want to miss. A variety of birding field trips are planned throughout the weekend in some of the Midlands’ most beautiful natural places, including the Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest, Congaree National Park, Hickory Top Wildlife Management Area, Manchester State Forest and Sparkleberry Swamp.

Add to that butterfly and wildflower walks, canoe and kayak trips, boat tours on Lake Marion, photography workshops and conservation exhibits and you have one nature-packed outdoor extravaganza.

Registration fee is $25. Stop at the Santee Cultural Arts Center located in the Town Hall Complex off Interstate 95 at Exit 98 before your first trip to pick up your personal itinerary. Most of the field trips will be meeting at the Cultural Arts Center to carpool to the trip destination.

Among the schedule activities are:

 * April 29, 6:15 to 11 a.m. Birdwatching along a boardwalk through a virgin cypress-tupelo swamp owned and operated by the National Audubon Society. Guaranteed to see Prothonotary warblers, as well as many nesting species, including summer tanagers, eastern wood peewees, acadian flycatchers and yellow-billed cuckoos. Cost $7.

* April 29, 1 to 3:30 p.m. Hop aboard a pontoon boat to explore the sunken forests of Lake Marion, South Carolina’s largest lake. While you cruise, look out for osprey, anhinga, great blue heron and alligators. Cost is $26.

* April 30, 5:30 a.m. to noon. Participants will head into Manchester State Forest early in the morning in search of the red-cockaded woodpecker, an endangered species generally found in longleaf pine forests in the Southeast. You may also see the brown-headed nuthatch, Louisiana waterthrush, Swainson’s warbler, Kentucky warbler, broad-winged hawk and Mississippi Kite. Free.

* May 1, 8 to 11:30 a.m. Look for neotropical migrants in Congaree National Park. Target species include the Prothonotary warbler, Kentucky warbler, Swainson's warbler, yellow-throated vireo, northern parula and yellow-throated warbler. Free.

Click here for the full schedule of events or call (803) 478-2217.