If you have stopped by here before, you know I have a zillion pictures to share. Unfortunately, I’m about half a zillion behind, so I’m thinking I should just plunge ahead with my old lady travels. So back I go to South Carolina Low Country in September, 2013.
[Click on photos to enlarge, twice to supersize.]
Huntington Beach State Park
I loaded up my camera equipment for a free bird-watching group tour at Huntington Beach State Park. I dropped Hubs off on historic Pawleys Island to fish off the powdery white beach where the ocean feeds the mouth of Pawleys Inlet. I was ready to explore a bona fide nature preserve on a gorgeous, warm fall day. Looking back now, I can’t believe that in 10 years no one had grabbed me by the neck and screamed in my face, You have to go to this park! It has so much to see: a most peculiar, custom designed, Moroccan styled, summer compound built by the Huntingtons who once owned all of the parkland; a secluded public beach; a small nature museum; a charming gift shop with refreshments; and you can even rent a Segway to motor around the 2500 acres. Best of all, there is lots of wildlife running around at the Park…in…the wild. Even so, it’s very people friendly.
Located 15 miles south of Myrtle Beach, the park includes a pristine inlet marsh, as well as a fresh water pond. With well-maintained plank walkways and observation decks, it’s an easy stroll.
Yes, alligators do cross the ground level walkways and roads sometimes–I asked. They eat the birds, as well, our volunteer park guide and expert birder told us. Just stay out of their way. (Like I had to say that.)
This small, jewel-colored heron was being stalked.
You can take a swim or fish from the beach (temporary state fishing license required), or roam around Atalaya, the once summer-house and studio of the sculptor Anna Hyatt Huntington. (I featured her famed and breathtaking Brookgreen Gardens, across the highway from the State Park, in a series of blogs you can find here.)
I have many pictures of Atalaya–you knew that–which I’ll share in a follow-up blog, but this blog is about the magnificent birds. Wood Storks and Egrets were plentiful.
I was here for a few hours, then came back with Hubs to explore Atalaya the next day.
“…I bid thee farewell, and I pray the gods thou mayst farewell.”
– Robert Greene
The bird at the top of this blog is a Roseate Spoonbill, rare to spot in this area, our birding guide told us. The Park’s website has a beautiful photo of one and it is on their “sighted” list. This one was moving fast by the time we spotted it, but I managed to get a few distant shots, not great, but proof I had a sighting, too, dammit! Even in a blur it’s lovely.
Edited to add some long range shots for an inquiry in the comments, as well as for anyone who likes photography/blogging technical stuff:
The two photos above and the one in the Header (at the top of the blog) are blown up to 200% of the originals and cropped for display on this blog. You may know that the limitations of sharing such huge photo files online here demand reduction in original photo file size, sometimes cropping, and even enlarging at times: otherwise, important elements of images would be tiny to the viewer. Also WordPress software has limits to the size a photo file can be: the full originals at 100% size are about the size of a wall poster and the actual images you see on your computer/tablet screen as my “blog” are much smaller.
For example, compare the Header (blown-up to 200% and cropped to fit the bird into that defined space) with the same photo below at 100% (with landscape cropped out for allowed picture file size):
If you click on these photos, they will enlarge in a new window. If you click on that enlargement, it will (often) enlarge again and you can see more detail (unless they are already at full size like the 100% image above).
In the case of my long range shots of the Spoonbill, enlargement of these does cause the loss of some detail, but at the distance of my shots, it was the best way to make the bird identifiable. I did some detail enhancement (with the Canon “Digital Photo Professional” program I use to process most photos) on the first “Bonus” photo above to sharpen the outline of the bill and feathers, but the Header photo and others in this section were only blown-up and cropped, not “enhanced” in any other way.
Too much info, I know, but in case anyone is curious, there you have it.
In my next blog I’ll share with you the singular experience of Atalaya, difficult to describe so I’ll let my pictures do the work. In the meantime if you want to check it out, this link gives the history and circumstances which inspired the Huntingtons to create their South Carolina getaway.
Y’all come back, now.