The Island Packet and The Beaufort Gazette launched the Lowcountry's 10 Best Spots for Birding interactive graphic June 16, a resource highlighting some of the region's best spots to view nature and wildlife. Untamed Lowcountry will highlight each of the 10 spots individually in the next 10 weeks, starting at the northernmost location and working south.
Of course, if you like the video, there's no need to wait for the countdown to unfold. Visit the graphic and see photo galleries, videos, seasonal bird lists, maps and all sorts of other information about all 10 sites.
This week's countdown spot is Grove Plantation in Charleston County.
The Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto rivers — collectively forming the region known as the ACE Basin — encompasses more than 350,000 acres and the largest undeveloped estuary along the Atlantic Coast. The Ernest F. Hollings ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge helps protect 12,000 of those acres, and Grove Plantation serves as the NWR’s administrative office and centerpiece.
The area includes bottomland hardwoods, freshwater and saltwater marshes, and food and cover to a variety of wildlife. Almost all of these features can be accessed from the grounds around Grove, a former rice plantation built in 1828. It is one of only three major antebellum mansions in the ACE Basin that survived the Civil War.
A trip there conveys a sense of history, but wildlife is the plantation's real calling card. Raccoons, bobcats, deer, opossums, foxes and feral hogs can be seen there. And the birding is excellent — the area around the plantation is a stopover for migrating waterfowl and a destination for wintering birds.
The forest trails lead past a bald eagle’s nest and to opportunities to see anything from northern bobwhites to prothonotary warblers.