Untamed Lowcountry

Bear Island birds worth the drive to Colleton County

By Jeff Kidd

jkidd@thestate.com

There are 12,000 acres to explore at Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, but it's understandable if you make it no further than the large pond at the property's entrance. The impoundment attracts a huge variety of birds, including such exotic species as tundra swans and American white pelicans in winter, and black-necked stilts in summer.

But a trip deeper inside the area, which is managed by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, is definitely worthwhile, particularly since the interior of the property is not opened year round — it is accessible Feb. 9 through Oct. 31 and occasionally closed during that time for special hunts.

So when Bear Island opened again this past weekend, my wife and I, undeterred by the morning cold, couldn't resist a trip. We spotted 54 species in about three hours (and still didn't see even a fraction of the property.) The images in the accompanying photo gallery were taken during this trip.

Bear Island WMA is a bit of a haul from Beaufort County, but the drive is beautiful and the sites that await unique and enthralling. That's one reason the property was named one of the Lowcountry's 10 Best spots for Birding, for which the video below was prepared.

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