Saint Phillips Island is a mixture of marsh, maritime forest, and sand dunes. The south coastal barrier islands are known to have had indigenous populations going back thousands of years and at least one ancient shell mound has been located here.
From the air the island looks like corduroy fabric, with the wales running parallel to the mainland. Various amounts of water are in the wales and the island can only be traversed lengthwise. This peaceful scene is near the center of the island. And yes, there were plenty of mosquitoes.
Saint Phillips is one of a group of barrier islands that sit at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean between Hilton Head Island and Edisto Island, protecting mainland South Carolina from the sea.
In 2017 the State of South Carolina purchased Saint Phillips Island from Ted Turner, who self describes as “founder of media empire, philanthropist, and environmentalist pioneer in sustainable resources.”
He owned the nearly 5000 acre (20 square KM) property for several decades, creating nature trails and building this modest home for seaside get-aways. The state parks department is exploring how to include this treasure as part of Hunting Island State Park (not to be confused with Huntington Beach State Park in Murrells Inlet).
Accessible only by boat, I was fortunate to be on one of the first public trips to the island. There was a lot to see and no where near enough time!
Our tour included a walk through the house. The screened front porch facing the ocean was fantastic!
When the house was first built there was an expansive sand beach leading down to the ocean. Barrier islands change continuously from the effects of storms and daily wave action and that beach is now gone. At some point this rip-rap was installed to help keep the water at bay.
A family of Raccoons wandered along the edge of the marsh under a pier where I was standing. I got a few shots as they disappeared into the taller grass. It was one of those interesting things to see but a missed photographic opportunity. Or so I thought.
About ten minutes later the masked bandits made a return trip, this time coming towards me.
What could be so interesting up on this dead branch?
They was not be a group shot as they continued weaving in and out of the taller grass and shrubs.
They were cautious, but continued towards the pier.
This one appeared to be the ring leader, maybe a parent although they were all the same size. He stood watch while the others went back into the tall grass before he followed.
We feed the Ruby-throated Hummingbirds in our back yard and I’ve tried off and on this summer with limited success to capture good images. Hurricane Dorian stripped a lot of leaves from the Crepe Myrtle trees which gave me a new opportunity.
At the feeder the light was just right to see what I think is the start of the ruby-throat on a juvenile.
This may be the same bird; he was at a different angle so the throat iridescence didn’t show. They fly so fast and three or four were chasing each other making it impossible to keep track.
This bit of land has newly emerged in one of the old rice fields ponds after a dredging project around the edge. Various wading birds were quick to find it, like this Great Blue Heron on a recent afternoon.
I was trimming back some annuals on my patio when I spotted a Praying Mantis. He looked so much like a stick almost pulled him off as a dead leaf.
I went back a couple hours later and he was still there, and had moved just to turn upside right. I’m not sure what that is on his front leg … insect poop or an even smaller bug?
Praying Mantis are known for eating pest insects so I was happy to have him. We have been inundated with lovebugs (Plecia nearctica) the last few weeks, which seem to have no enemy, and even with one dangling in front of him the Mantis took a pass.
He was very slow moving, and most of the time I watched him he only swung his head around a bit and moved his front legs.
Taken September 19, 2019. As of this morning the Mantis is still there, just a few inches from where seen here.
Brown Pelicans are fascinating to watch in flight, so graceful yet so prehistoric looking.
I thought this one was going to land and try to catch a fish. He dropped his feet.
But then he tucked them in as he glided over a school of jumping fish.
Fooled me again.
Brown Pelicans eat by either diving into the water and scooping food into their beak/pouch or sometimes by bobbing on the water and snatching up a fish, not by picking it up with their feet–I’m not sure what he was up to here.
Then it was landing gear up and away he went down the river, no lunch.