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Wildlife and nature preserves

The American alligator is commonin the Lowcountry, where they live inlagoons. If you see one, give it plenty ofspace.
The American alligator is commonin the Lowcountry, where they live inlagoons. If you see one, give it plenty ofspace. null

The Lowcountry is a paradisefor nature lovers, becausethe forests, lagoons andocean are home to so manywild creatures.

The book "TidelandTreasures," by ToddBallantine, a former local naturalist,is one of the best guides toLowcountry plants and animals.

Some of the most common animalsyou may see during your stayare American alligators. It's illegaland dangerous to feed them, andthey can quickly snatch and eat pets,so stay away from them. You alsomight see white tailed deer, raccoon,and even armadillo, if you're lucky.Shore birds include great blue herons,white ibis (often seen on golfcourses and identified by a long,curved beak), ospreys, endangeredwood storks, snowy egrets and tinypiping plovers.

Bald eagles also nest here.In the ocean, look for playful bottle nosed dolphins, sand dollars,horseshoe crabs and harmlesscannonball jellyfish. Here aresome of the best places to observeLowcountry wildlife:

AUDUBON NATUREPRESERVEThe beautiful 50-acre sanctuary,located off Palmetto Bay Road, hastrails and a small lake. Maintained bythe Hilton Head Audubon Society,plants and trees are identified bymarkers, trail guides for self-guidedwalks are provided, and lists of birdsightings and flowers in bloom areposted on the entrance.

PINCKNEY ISLANDPinckney Island National WildlifeRefuge is located just over the J.Wilton Graves Bridge from HiltonHead Island.Charles Cotesworth Pinckneyinherited the island which bears hisfamily name from his father, Charles,in 1758. The paths and roads areexcellent for walking and birdwatching. Bring bicycles along if youwant to ride the four miles to WhitePoint, the northern tip of the island,where American Indians were thefirst to occupy the land. PinckneyIsland is free to all; the gate is openduring daylight hours. No dogsallowed.

SEA PINES FORESTPRESERVEInside the gates of The Sea PinesResort lies a 572-acre forest preserve.A pleasure for walkers, bikers,hikers and joggers, the preserve isopen from sunrise to sunset daily.Trails wander among old rice fields,a wildflower meadow, lakes, birdrookeries and marshes.A short walk off Lawton Driveleads to the Indian Shell Ring, built4,000 years ago. Visitors must pay a$5 fee at the Sea Pines gate.