Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge is a wonderful little spot, just off Hilton Head Island. It feels incredibly remote, but it is easily accessible and a great place to pop over for an early morning walk, photography excursion or even just a place to go for a run.
The walking trail is flanked on both sides by tidal waterways, saltmarsh that hosts an abundance of wildlife including alligators, white ibis, great blue herons, gallinules, various egret species, fiddler crabs, deer, turtles, and coyotes.
As soon as we entered the refuge, before we even reached the ample parking area settled inside a stand of spanish-moss draped oaks, we spotted a plethora of white ibis and other wetland birds. They are mostly undisturbed by the foot traffic of passers-by, continuing to graze along the waters edge.
This Great Blue Heron posed for a long while on his high vantage point. I really enjoyed this opportunity, as often times these guys are quite shy, and hidden amongst the grass.
As we continued deeper into the reserve, we found the ‘Ibis Pond’, which is appropriately named, since it is over-run with the awkward looking white wetland birds. We also spotted a few non-Ibis, namely the Anhinga and Great Egret. On the backside, I also spotted a shy Common Gallinule – they always make me laugh, because at first glance they remind me of a chicken, but then they reveal their shockingly long legs and comically large feet!
There were hundreds of juvenile Ibis, anxiously clambering from tree to tree. They appeared to be fledglings, many of them practicing awkward flights and ungracefully landing on the heads of their brethren. Indeed there were some slightly more mature juveniles that had ventured away from the nursery and into the wetlands to feed with the adults.
I can’t recommend the Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge enough to anyone visiting Hilton Head – it’s a wonderful way to escape the hustle and bustle of the boardwalk and find solitude and peace in the wild wetlands.