The Savannah NWR is only about fifteen or twenty minutes north of here. The entrance is in South Carolina, but it is geographically large, encompassing some 28,000 acres and spanning two states and three counties (Chatham and Effingham Counties, GA and Jasper County, SC).
Jaime and I have made the short trip up to the Savannah NWR a number of times to view the wildlife and take some photos. We have seen alligators on every single trip to the refuge except one, that being our very first trip in mid-January, the coldest time of the year here in Savannah. On any given trip, you are bound to see about a dozen or so gators, even if you never venture more than five feet from your car. During mating season, however, you can expect to see several dozen. Our record was somewhere in the neighborhood of forty or fifty in an hour and a half, I think.
There are no fences that separate you from the gators– only your common sense, and federal law. That’s right, the gators are federally protected. Feed them, throw rocks at them, or harass them in any way, and you could lose your right to vote! These are some important gators.
Most of the time we go to the refuge, we take the four-mile wildlife drive, and stop periodically to explore some of the dikes. This time, however, we decided to hike several miles into an area that is only accessible by foot. It was beautiful back there, and we got to see some wildlife that normally avoids the higher-traffic area around the road.
I’ve posted some pictures in my photo gallery:
If you would like to view other pictures of the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge, you can check some of these out, as well:
06.07.2004 Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
05.24.2004 Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
04.10.2004 Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
01.11.2004 Savannah National Wildlife Refuge
We went to Harris Neck NWR the day after. I discovered it while looking up the Savannah NWR, and we decided to check it out. It’s about an hour south of here, so we loaded the bikes up on the car and headed out.
Harris Neck NWR is about a tenth the size of the Savannah NWR, but it has more paved areas to ride bikes. The refuge is a combination of saltwater marsh, forest, and open fields. About 1200 acres of the refuge consist of an old airport that was originally built by the appropriately-named Department of War for use during WWII. The property was eventually transferred to the county to use as an airport, and they in turn mismanaged it to the point that the federal government took it back. It was established as a refuge in 1962.
The triangular runway and taxiways have cracks all over them, and we pretty much concluded that people put them there. The plants have grown in the cracks to make a strange landscape. At several points, the cracks have been taken over by little cactuses.
There is a rather large pond at the refuge that was brimming with animals of all sorts. There were four or five groves of trees on little islands in this pond filled with what I think are called great egrets. There were probably several hundred of these huge white birds.
Here is the photo album from Harris Neck:
In the future, we’re thinking about going to the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge up in South Carolina, and we’re also considering going camping in the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, a massive twenty-five miles by thirty-eight miles across, totaling about 396,000 acres!