Monday, November 21, 2016

Enjoying autumn in South Carolina

Fall colors

Wow – it’s been a while since my last blog post!  We arrived back at the refuge after our little trip to North Carolina, and Nicolas headed back to his apartment.  He had a short week, and was coming back out the following weekend for his 4-day liberty break.

Tom spent his days working with the Biologist, getting ready for duck season, as the waterfowl slowly began arriving.

Ducks are beginning to arrive

They flood the various waterfowl nesting areas, and check on the woodduck boxes to make sure they are sturdy and safe from predators.

Waterfowl habitat

Wood Duck Boxes










That only lasted for a few days, though, and then Garrett got called away to help with a deer disease issue that’s happening down in the Keys.  He gets back around the 1st of December, though, and then they have about 2 weeks to finish getting the habitats prepped before the ducks begin arriving in greater numbers and hunting season starts in earnest. 

Lake Marion

Nicolas wanted to have a campfire on the weekend, so we went for a drive around the lake in search of some rocks to build a firepit out of.

Exploring the backroads

AS long as we were out, we took another drive through the Cuddo Unit on the Wildlife Drive,

Cuddo Unit

A Great Egret and Great Blue Heron











but only spotted a few birds, and still no alligators!

Fall Colors in South CarolinaIt’s still a nice drive, though, and the cooler temperatures are bringing out a few fall colors.

Exploring the backroads


It was a beautiful afternoon for a drive,

Nice fall day

Enjoying our new firepit


and a great evening to cook dinner over the fire!

Nicolas has his boards coming up soon, so he spent some time getting his boots in shape.

Polishing his boots

Casey enjoyed our visit with us, but unfortunately couldn’t spend a lot of time outside – she was having a terrible problem with ticks all weekend.  Every time Nicolas took her for a walk, she would have several on her every time she came back in the RV!  We were constantly on the lookout for them!

It didn’t seem to bother her, though.  Nicolas wasn’t sure how she would do all weekend without her crate (we just didn’t have room for it!), but she did fine – she found the perfect spot under the couch to make a little cave for herself at night!

Casey in her cave

We also spent some time down in North Charleston and Summerville doing some shopping, and we enjoyed a nice Veterans’ Day meal at Golden Corral.  They offered so much more than just a free meal – it was an actual event to show their appreciation to the men and women who have or are currently serving our country.  It was a very patriotic evening!

With Daylight Saving over, it gets dark pretty early around here, but we’ve still been trying to get out on the bikes in the afternoons, and sometimes even catch a sunset.

Sunset_Nov 18

Sunset_Nov 18











One afternoon when Tom was working late in the field, I took a ride down to where the road crosses the lake . . . in search of fall colors and wildlife.

I found some of both!

Cantey Bay

Cypress in the Bay










Another Great Egret,

Great Egret

and finally an alligator!

Finally saw a gator!

The wildfires up in North Carolina were creating a little bit of a haze in the air down here last week, but it seems to have cleared up now.  The lake still makes a beautiful subject!

The lake is like glass












Ducks at the lake

Between last week’s super moon and the cooler temperatures, we’ve been seeing quite a few waterfowl move in the last few days.

This group of Mallards has been hanging out by the Visitor Center, and there have been more and more Canadian Geese spotted on Cantey Bay.





Geese on Cantey Bay

The other resident volunteer couple also arrived last week, covering most days in the Visitor Center, so Tom and I only help out there when there is a school group or special event.  Marcie would much rather have Tom working in the field, anyway, and he likes that better, too – the Visitor Center is much too boring for him!

He’s been trying to clear some of the nature trails to make them more visible, and I had a free couple of hours later this afternoon, so I went out with him.

He was blowing off the trail, and I followed on the gator.

Clearing the boardwalk

Some areas had months of pine straw and leaves piled up!

Lots of debris piled up

It looked much better when he was done!

Cleaning the boardwalk

All done!


We didn’t quite get the whole trail done before he ran out of gas in the blower, but we did get the main areas of the trail cleared enough that you can actually find the trail.







We stopped at the boardwalk overlooking Cantey Bay to look for waterfowl . . . and once again, just a Great Egret . . . probably the same one!

Great Egret

On the way back to the shop, we stopped at the Indian Mound and startled a group of turkey buzzards.

Turkey Buzzard

Turkey Buzzard

There were several hanging out in the tops of the trees.

Hanging out at the top of the tree

So, that’s what we’ve been up to lately . . . although we’ve had a couple of adventures, but those will have to wait for another post!


  1. I LOVE your posts! Am quite envious! It is so beautiful there. I live vicariously thru each post of yours. Have you seen much of the huge spiders I have heard about?

  2. Glad to see you are still getting in some Family Time. Careful with those Gators which I find hard to believe they are that far North.
    Hope Tom is wearing some form of Hearing Protection when using those Two-Cycle Tools otherwise he won't be hearing the delights that nature has to offer.
    Wishing You, Tom and the boys a Happy Thanksgiving.
    Be Safe and Enjoy!

    It's about time,

  3. We have lived in South Carolina for over 30 years and never made it to Santee Wildlife Refuge...sure is beautiful!! Oh, the gators are there...just as the weather cools, they spend more time in and under the water where it is warmer;o))

  4. When Tom and I were clearing the trail yesterday, I spotted a giant spider in a pile of pine straw that he had just blown to the side. It was HUGE - the body alone had to be an inch in diameter!! Yikes!


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