While in Savannah, if you’re looking for something different to do and get out of the city, I would recommend one of the several wildlife refuges in the area.
We went to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge which is located just 7 miles north of the city. However, we were staying in the Hardeeville RV Park, which I would recommend if you are visiting the area (Passport America park and nice people), just across the border in South Carolina, so the refuge was only a 5 minute drive for us.
I would start at the visitor’s center. They have some maps of the area, a quick video about the refuge, which was interesting, and they’ll show you where to begin your journey, on the 4 mile Wildlife Drive.
Wildlife Drive is a one way road around one part of the refuge. You can drive, walk or bike it. We were in our car, so we chose to drive it. Plus, we had the quadcopter with us and we planned on shooting some footage with it, so lugging it around without the car was not an option.
While driving around, I highly recommend that you stop every so often and get out of the car and walk around. You can stop where ever and when ever you please. Plus there are a few walking trails inside the refuge that you can do. You will certainly see many other animals and hear all their calls while walking and taking your time.
We stopped our car often along the road. We were their on a fairly windy and chilly weekday, so their were not that many people there, which in my opinion, made it nicer. The less crowded it is is nicer, not the wind and the cold. Halfway through I actually had to put on gloves!
Anyway, our first stop was not that far in. We were not even at the half mile mark when we spotted an American Alligator. Once on the endangered animal list, this glorious and huge animal now thrives in wetlands, swamps and rivers.
American Alligator In Foreground
American Alligator Up Close Using The 300mm Image Stabilizing Lens
David Flying Over The American Alligator
David Flying Quadcopter Through Trees On One Of The Walking Trails
Quadcopter Over Water
David and Quadcopter
David Flying Quadcopter Through Moss Covered Trees
Not Sure What This Fella Is
Another One I Could Not Identify
Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron Taking Off
The above picture was the site we saw from the roadside. On a side note, it certainly is different to be out walking the trails here and to come across one of these huge beasts.
I had to grab our good Canon EOS camera with the 300mm image stabilizing lens, which is an awesome lens btw, to get an up close shot. I certainly wasn’t going to get much closer to this alligator without it.
Is it just me or does it look like he’s smiling?
David wanted to get the quadcopter out and see if he could get closer without disturbing him.
We certainly don’t put the quadcopter up in the air to “taunt” the wildlife. That is just not right. He fly’s from a respectable distance just to get a different perspective on things.
What we didn’t plan on was the other wildlife in the area that we did not see. I won’t give it away, but I will say this, we did not startle the Alligator. You’ll have to watch David’s video below to see what I mean.
I’d have to say, the most prevalent wildlife they have there, at least this time of year, was the American Coot.
They eat aquatic plants, nest in tall grasses and cattails and gather by the thousands. This refuge is a perfect place for them to gather, hence the large population here.
While driving around a corner, I looked down into the water and said, “Look, a baby!” David grabbed the camera with the long lens and took this shot while sitting in the drivers seat.
It’s super cute isn’t it? However, when we got back to the coach, I was looking up all the wildlife we saw, and came to the conclusion that this indeed is not a baby. It’s a full grown Pied-Billed Grebe. Again, not related to a duck, it is a small diving like bird. When threatened it dives underwater rather than flying away. It’s actually rare when you see one flying because they tend to only migrate at nighttime.
They are common around lakes and ponds and eat fish and crustaceans, especially liking crayfish.
As I mentioned earlier, there are several walking trails in this refuge. We found one very interesting.
In the photo above, the round brick structure is an old well. You see, back in the 1700’s this whole area was used as rice fields. I could write quite a bit about the history here, but I won’t bore you too much. The diverse and long history can be found here. This well is located in an area where their used to be slave quarters. The well acted not only as their water source but also as a type of refrigerator for other foods. This well is not the only structure left standing today in this refuge. Along various areas of the impoundments (dike-enclosed pools) the park service still uses to this day, the original rice field trunks. Built by the slaves who worked these fields, these were used to divert water to different areas of the rice fields. The park rangers still use these trunks in the same way. However they are diverting the water to various areas of the refuge during different times of the year.
David had a lot of great flying time in. Even though it was windy and getting colder by the minute, he managed to get some great flights in.
He really scares me when he takes it around all these moss covered trees and over water. With the wind the way it was, the moss was flying everywhere. One strand in a motor and that would be it. But he had no worries. But I guess that’s how you get these awesome videos he puts together.
Oh, and by the way, you can see the road that goes through these trees? This happens along several areas of the trek. So no motorhomes down this road. Sorry.
You really can enjoy it more in a car and on foot anyway.
Wildlife was certainly around every turn, nook and cranny. David shot this bird while in the drivers seat too. We didn’t get out of the car for him because he seemed a little skiddish. I was sadly though, not able to identify him. You would think with such a clear shot that I could easily tell what he was. But alas, I could not. So if any of you out there can tell me what type of bird he is, that would be great. I’m guessing he’s part of the Heron family?
Here is yet another one I could not identify. Sometimes Google just can’t help. Seems like another type of Heron to me though.
Then we came across this magnificent guy. The “Piece d’ Resistance” (spoken in a French accent). The Great Blue Heron. He is known to be around water as his main diet is fish. He is usually found wading around ponds, rivers and lakes, standing real still, making deliberate steps, hunting for food.
We were walking on a trail when we came across him. Not one moment after I focused my long lens on him, as they are skiddish too, he took off. I was able to capture some great shots as he flew away. I’m glad they are in focus.
All in all it was a nice day. Minus the cold temperatures and wind. Even with the gloves on I couldn’t feel my hands when I got back in the car. Ah winter, I am so ready for you to leave us.
So, I would highly recommend you take this adventure out to the refuge. There is no charge to get in and I am sure any time of the year would be wonderful. If we are back in this area, we’d certainly go back to see what other wildlife we could see, depending on what time of year it was.
We ended up spending well over 2 hours just on this 4 mile drive. However, it could be done with more or less time. We took our time as David was flying the copter and I was taking pics every where I went.
Please enjoy the video below. It really turned out well.
Great Blue Heron Flying Away
Great Blue Heron Flying Away