Cast & Blast

Clocks are changing, but has spring really sprung in SC Lowcountry?

White pelicans.
White pelicans.

Is it Spring yet? Huh, is it?

Well, I believe that it is because the signs are all there. Compared to last year, this winter has been a cakewalk.

Do you know what an Angel’s Trumpet plant is? A 5- or 6-foot-tall perennial plant, it produces magnificent, 12-inch-long, trumpet-shaped flowers. Usually dying back to ground level during the winter, mine never did and they are all still putting out blooms like crazy.

Maybe this isn’t quite a sign that spring is here to stay, but here are a few observations I made over the past week that should convince you.

Probably the most dramatic sign happened this past Monday. Driving over the Charles Fraser Bridge on Hilton Head Island’s Cross Island Parkway, I noticed a flock of pelicans about to pass over my car. Slowing down, I noticed something odd about this particular flock. They were bright white with black wingtips.

To see white pelicans around these parts is unusual because they are mostly associated with large freshwater lakes, but almost every year just about the time spring arrives, I see them stop by. Last year, they stayed for about a week, lounging around on an oyster bar near the bridge to Hilton Head.

Being so used to seeing brown pelicans, when I see these bright white spring migrants it’s like being at an airshow and getting a peek at the coolest new fighter jets.

Growing up, I was into putting together airplane models rather than building car models. Flying has always intrigued me, so it should come as no surprise that I pay close attention to birds in general. Much to my father’s dismay, most of the airplane models I made included a built-in cherry bomb. When I tired of the model, I would hang it from a limb with fishing line, pretend that it got shot down by another of my model planes and light the tail on fire. You can imagine what happened when the fire reached the fuel tanks (i.e.: cherry bomb). Oh, the imagination I had.

So back to birds.

Yesterday, I drove around looking for further signs that spring was here to stay. I didn’t even have time to hop in the car before I noticed a bunch of robins hopping around on the grass across from my house.

Then, looking back at my house, the azaleas were blooming, as was the first wisteria vine of the year.

So, not even out of the driveway, I had four signs in the bag.

Heading first down Pinckney Colony Road to see a friend, I went by the You-Pick-Em daffodil farm. Turning in to take a look-see, there were tons of them blooming, but talking to a gentleman there, the bloom was at its height a couple of weeks ago, which was earlier than usual.

So, there’s five signs.

After that, I headed back toward Bluffton and the May River and just before reaching the river saw an osprey already on her nest. Hopping out of my car, I ambled down to the marsh and only a sheepshead fisherman, or fisherman in general, would notice these two signs.

The first was the water itself. During the coldest part of winter, the water is gin clear, but for the first time this year I noticed a greenish tint had appeared. Ah, life is back in the water! That greenish tint means microorganisms are flourishing once again, and not far behind comes the entire food chain of fish, crabs and other critters.

Then looking down at my feet I saw freshly dug china-back fiddler crab holes. You see, during the colder months fiddlers are hidden deep under the sand and mud and it isn’t until the spring alarm clock goes off that they dig their way to the surface. I’ll put money down that within a week or two the males will start their routine of standing by their burrow while waving in unison that big claw to attract a sweetheart.

So, there you have it, a pot full of signs that spring is here to stay and it’s time to come out of hibernation.

Start planting those seeds, get the boat out and get her ready because it’s all bursting wide open.

‘Run For The Bulls’

Lastly, the entry forms for the second annual “Run For The Bulls” mahi tournament to be held at Harbour Town on Saturday, May 11, are available online at Limited to only 30 boats with a staggering $20,000 first-place, this looks to be a great event with a portion of all proceeds to go to our indispensable Waddell Mariculture Center during the awards ceremony on the day of the tournament

It will also be a chance for everyone to meet Erin Levesque, Waddell’s new director.

One in 30, now those are great odds!