Today I purchased a Charleston County Parks “Gold Pass” membership that provides the holder with “unlimited admission to 11 county parks” for a full year from date of purchase. While I will certainly enjoy visiting Charleston County parks without having to pay the buck or so admission fee every time, I am most excited about the early morning bird walks offered twice a week at the Caw Caw Interpretive Center, also free to pass holders. Located just off South Highway 17, the Caw Caw, which boasts six miles of hiking trails as well as numerous elevated boardwalks, is considered the birding hot-spot of coastal South Carolina, an impressive boast considering South Carolina is itself host to multitudes of bird species.
The appeal of the Caw Caw bird walks for me is that they combine at least three of the activities that I love: walking, appreciating nature, and learning the specifics of the environment in which I live. The Eco-tours I’ve participated in since moving here two years ago have included two guided walks on the Tibwin Plantation near Awendaw, a day exploring Bulls Island, an afternoon singing with dolphins on the Edisto River, and a morning hunting for fossils on Edisto Beach. Each tour has provided insight into the area’s eco-diversity and brought me face to face with such wonders as the ancient shell rings of the Sewee, the hard to find blue indigo bunting, and literally dozens of alligators sunning on a wetland bank (through which I had to walk), each time impressing upon me the fact that I have only barely begun to see, or understand, just how unique Coastal South Carolina ecology is.
Though I am excited to add these bird walks to my dossier of SC adventures, it will be several days yet before my new Gold Pass arrives in the mail — adding about a week to my anticipation. I will bide my time patiently, however, looking through the “Birds of South Carolina” field guide I bought last year and drooling over digital camera equipment on the internet in hopes that, some day, I can add photography to my birding experience. For now, I’ll satisfy myself contemplating the wonder of how the hobby I’d given up pursuing years ago has returned to me just in time for the cooler, drier days of another Charleston October.