Beaufort County pushing for birds to soar to new heights

dlauderdale@islandpacket.comSeptember 25, 2012 

In this file photo, a wood stork, left, and an egret flock together to search for the ever-elusive lunch in the shallow water of a Sea Pines pond.

JAY KARR

Birds of a feather are starting to flock together in Beaufort County.

The birds I'm talking about are people -- bird people.

Bird people have set the standard here. In the old days, they came from all over to shoot quail. Today they come to observe a wide variety of birds. And in between, many of the new residents who turned rural Beaufort County into a busy place set the standard by appreciating and protecting the wildlife through land conservation, education and field trips.

Now more than ever, the bird people are flapping in the same direction.

Pete Richards of the Fripp Island Audubon Club tells me there is growing cooperation among his club and the Hilton Head Audubon Club and the Sun City Bird Club.

That strength will show in the 2013 Beaufort County calendar that will be based on birds and bird habitat. The calendar always celebrates the Beaufort County Rural and Critical Land Preservation program with beautiful photography and a detailed update on the land-conservation program. The new calendar will focus on the birds, and it is an early sign of a larger vision.

Richards foresees a day when Beaufort County will be known the world over by birdwatchers as a popular destination.

"Our habitat is so unique and so diverse," he said.

On Oct. 6-7, the Fripp Audubon Club will sponsor the first Fall Migration Celebration. Experts will teach attendees about our birds, and they will have a chance to get out and see them throughout the Beaufort Barrier Islands Important Bird Area.

This area, recognized nationally as important to migrating birds, stretches across six barrier islands: Harbor, Hunting, Fripp, Pritchard's, Capers and Old islands.

Richards hopes that it can become recognized as an international important bird area.

Meanwhile, the bird people want the Fall Migration Celebration to "give everyone a sense of what's so wonderfully beautiful about it," Richards said.

They want to present the barrier islands to people willing to learn more about migratory birds, wading birds, coastal birds, shorebirds, threatened birds, endangered birds, beautiful birds.

They want to showcase why these birds -- and their habitat -- are so important to Beaufort County.

They want more birds of a feather to flock together.

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