After a hectic few months I'm finally getting around to sharing more photos of our trip to Savannah and Tybee Island last fall. With only a few days to visit, it was a bit of a whirlwind trying to see and experience all the area has to offer. I feel like we only scratched the surface, and I'm already thinking about how I can get back there again soon!
Savannah is ridiculously photogenic, both the city itself and the surrounding areas. In town, the moss-draped trees and unique architecture give everything a very distinctive appearance. I'm not much of a lifestyle or travel photographer, but I can see why those folks love Savannah. My photos hardly do this beautiful city justice.
Savannah is known for its ghost stories and reportedly haunted homes. Ghost tours are very popular, and there are a surprising amount of eerie stories involving murder, tragic accidents, and paranormal activity associated with various locations in the city.
Speaking of spooky places, I was surprised by how much I enjoyed our visit to Bonaventure Cemetery. But to be honest, I thought this one was more beautiful than scary. Situated on a bluff that overlooks the Wilmington River, Bonaventure Cemetery is filled with sprawling live oak trees that make it a very peaceful and pretty place to visit.
The weather during our stay was unpredictable, with lots of short, sporadic storms. I could have easily spent more time exploring the cemetery, but we had to leave early after getting caught in a torrential downpour about two minutes after I took the shot above.
Admittedly, I was most interested in the possibilities for nature photography in the areas surrounding Savannah. The Georgia coast is home to tons of wading birds and shorebirds, so we planned some visits to a few bird watching locations during our stay.
I had heard great things about Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, but it was surprisingly quiet on the day we visited. We did see quite a few egrets and herons, but in other places, we walked, waited, and watched for some time without seeing any activity at all.
The part of the refuge I was most excited to see was Woody Pond. It's one of the largest inland rookeries for wood storks, although we didn't see any storks during our visit. When we first arrived, I was excited to see several juvenile little blue herons, great blue herons, snowy egrets, some wood ducks and gallinules, and a yellow-crowned night heron.
Before long, I noticed that the pond had a fair share of alligators hiding out in the algae too. It might seem counterintuitive, but birds often choose to nest in places that attract alligators. Alligators actually help deter raccoons and other smaller predators that can be threats to nesting birds and their young.
Within a short time of arriving at the pond, we noticed one of the alligators starting to approach us. I'm sure he was just curious, but he was swimming so quickly toward the bank that we decided it was best to give him some space. I was disappointed to leave Woody Pond so soon, but better safe than sorry when it comes to gators!
We also visited Skidaway Island State Park, located along the intracoastal waterway. There were some beautiful views and trails there.
The trails pass through different wetland areas, wooded trails, and tidal creeks. I loved the wispy moss hanging from all the trees.
We did have one little scare during our hike at Skidaway, when we came very close to stepping on a snake. We used an app to try to identify the snake, and the app told us it was a rattlesnake. Once the snake noticed us, it stayed perfectly still, but not coiled, and it never made a rattling sound. Eventually, we questioned whether the app was correct, and a little more research revealed that it was a harmless rat snake.
You know how sometimes you can see something for the first time and then start noticing it everywhere? If you look carefully at the photo above, you can see a few dark spots on some of the blades of marsh grass. While I was watching the tricolored heron, I started to notice the dark spots and wonder what they were. Upon closer inspection, I realized they were tiny snails, and the marsh was absolutely full of them. Sometimes there would be whole clusters of snails clinging to the same blade of grass.
These are known as marsh periwinkle snails, a favorite food of blue crabs. Periwinkles feed on algae and fungus that grows on the marsh grass, and they move up and down the grass in sync with the tides. To stay out of the reach of predators, they climb higher up when the tide comes in and then drop back down closer to the water during low tide. And apparently blue crabs aren't the only ones who like to eat these little snails; people consider them a delicacy too.
As much as I loved the wetland areas around Savannah, I think I enjoyed the beach even more. Stay tuned for photos of Tybee Island!