Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Birding at the Okefenokee

Great Egret
There are a few places in Georgia that are as unique for birding as the Altamaha WMA (Wildlife Management Area), Harris Neck WMA, Jekyll Island, Sapelo Island, Kennesaw Battlefield Memorial, some of the State Parks and WMA at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains in North Georgia...and the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge.   Sorry if I forgot to mention your favorite birding spot in Georgia.  Just put it in the comments area. 

Debbie and I just came back from a camping trip at the Okefenokee.  The welcome committee was a group of five Swallow-tailed Kites soaring above the camping area.  A pair of Northern Parulas were busy around our site.  Over the five days, we saw around our camp site the Black-throated Green Warbler, Yellow Throated Warblers, lots of White Throated Sparrows, more warblers and various woodpeckers, not to forget Ruby-crowned Kinglets and the wrens.
This is supposed to be a Prothonotary Warbler.
Now, the best part.  Rent a kayak or a canoe at the trading post (front desk) and paddle down the Suwanee River.  Prothonotary Warblers will be delighted to see you, or you'll be delighted to see them.  Lots of them along the river. Don't play their song, a male will try to buzz you in the head.  The Great Crested Flycatchers are already there so were the King Rails with their kek kek kek clapping sounds, more warblers, flock of White Ibises.  Twice, a Little Blue Heron wanted to lead the way for us and show us around or whatever he was doing staying just a few feet from our canoe. 

Friendly Little Blue Heron.

Back to camp.  A Hermit Thrush lives around our site and we saw him everyday.  A pair of Pileated Woodpeckers played around the campground everyday.  And a pair of Red-shouldered Hawks were nesting across the street from the campground.

In the morning, you are awaken by the choir of birds in this nature cathedral.  You love it and smile, then hate yourself for not knowing all the warbler chorus yourself. (Yes, we left a few warblers unidentified during this trip).  The Baltimore Oriole did perform a long solo one early morning that was unmistakable.  (We still double-checked with a bird ap to be sure about our surprise guest). 

Did I mention the Owls? The Great Horned and the Barred Owls that we hear at night?
One morning, a Barred Owl flew in front of our canoe and landed for a picture moment.  Our camera was so uncooperative we almost just threw it in the water.  He came back (or sent his brother) to our camp site the next morning and hooted near our tent!!! Nice, very nice.

Now, please tell me, why do we have so few birders going to the Okefenokee? The yellow flies, or the summer heat? Well, just get there between late March and beginning May before the heat and the yellow flies.  Give a try, you'll go back like we've been doing. 


Anne said...

One day I want to take a trip to Okefenokee. Believe it or not, I've never been! Thanks for sharing your adventures!

Andre said...

I think you'll enjoy the Okefenokee. Spring is the best time. Once there, I suggest you rent one of the kayaks and paddle down the Suwanee River. Great for birding!