On Thursday March 30, a group of eleven SINHG members were trained in wildlife biology by the incredible David “Hawkeye” Gardner, Animal Tracker Extraordinaire and Director of Environmental Education at Camp St. Christopher.
The day was gorgeous and the bugs not bad for our three hour excursion to learn more about the mammals (and reptiles) of Seabrook Island.
The morning began with a review of five mammal skulls. After evaluating features such as the teeth, nasal, eyes, ears and brain cavity, the group was successful in identifying the Possum (small brain and strongest bite of all animals), the Bobcat (round head, short nose and large eyes to see at night), River Otter (torpedo shaped head and teeth to shred fish), Coyote (tapered head with eyes forward and large canine teeth) and Raccoon (teeth reflect omnivorous diet).
Next we headed to the sand to look for tracks. Under one of the buildings we were able to see clear tracks of Raccoon and mice. We even got to learn about the Ant Lion Beatle Larva otherwise known as the “Doodlebug” (did you ever notice those inverted cone shaped depressions in the sand?). Next stop was out to the dunes, which are a great area for small mammals and larger pray. We had several sightings of tracks: Deer, Ghost Crabs, Raccoon, Possum and more mice. The most exceptional was the track of a snake following a mouse! I think we know how that story ended!
Our final trek took us into the maritime forest. The lack of rain made it difficult to find a tremendous number of tracks, however the group agreed a beautiful day walking the woods with our island naturalist was a day well spent! We enjoyed seeing everything from a 6-7’ American Alligator to the 4” Green Anole. And of course we couldn’t help notice a few birds along the way (22 species to be exact), including a Common Loon flyover, four Glossy Ibis in the slough, and the songs of returning warblers including the Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Warbler and Pine Warbler.
We hope this inspires all residents of Seabrook Island to look carefully around to see the nature that abounds and watch for more of these types of trips when the fall SINHG trips are announced later in June.
Website (to link to, if applicable): www.SINHG.org
-Submitted by Nancy Brown, SINHG Trip Coordinator