Ahoy! We Set Sail!

Admission: we were not on a sailboat, we were on a ski boat, but nonetheless, Anita and I had a glorious time with Boat Captain Scott out on the waters surrounding Hilton Head Island yesterday. We spent two action-packed hours as our guide took us to beautiful spots filled with birds and dolphins. It was a very high tide, so we could get into all sorts of tight spots, too.

When the son did come out, it was very sparkly.

It was a gray day, so none of the photos look spectacular, and of course most of the birds were way too far away for photos, but I sure got my money’s worth out of the binoculars, which I was gracious enough to occasionally share with Anita, when I wasn’t all mesmerized.

What was your favorite, Suna?

Thanks for asking, hypothetical reader! By far my favorite sight was all the little blue herons in the marshlands. They were harder to spot, but so blue! Of course I couldn’t get pictures, but here’s what they look like.

By Sandhillcrane – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=75471386

There were dozens and dozens of great egrets, a good number of great blue herons, and a lot of sweet snowy egrets. The marshes were crammed with them. We also saw two tricolored herons, so it was a good day for that family.

Oystercatchers in flight.

My second favorite, though, were the American oystercatchers, because I’d never seen them before. They were all hanging out, waiting for lower tides, so we got a good view.

The patient oytstercatchers.

In the raptor department, we saw at least three huge ospreys and a couple of nests, and one chilly-looking bald eagle sitting on metal tower. Oddly enough I still haven’t seen a vulture, though everyone claims they are all over the place.

Cormorants taking off. The eagle is on that tower at center.

It really was a birder’s dream cruise, even though there were a couple I’d wanted to see who didn’t happen to be around. Check out all the birds who DID show up!

  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Great Blue Heron
  • White Ibis
  • Brown Pelican
  • Laughing Gull
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Double-crested Cormorant
  • Osprey
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Tricolored Heron
  • Royal Term
  • Ring-billed Gull
  • Bald Eagle
  • Willet (yay)
  • Boat-tailed Grackle
  • Herring Gull
  • American Oystercatcher

Not bad at all!

And mammals!

The outing WAS billed as a dolphin cruise, so of course we had to see some of them! We got quite a few sightings, including some flirting around and a couple of mother-baby pairs.

The part I liked best was that it was so quiet you could hear them breathe. Other times I’ve seen them they have been by a loud beach or on the ferry at Port Aransas, which makes a lot of noise.

My best dolphin shot.

Toward the end of the cruise, we went by Spanish Wells and looked at fancy people houses, discussing who had the best landscaping, which houses fit in well with their setting and which didn’t, etc. You know I liked that!

White Ibis in front of one of the less gaudy fancy houses.

To be honest, I even enjoyed zooming back to the dock so I could get to my hair cut in time. The weather was so pleasant and the wind felt so good. I am so glad we got to go on a small outing with just us and the guide, and that Scott knew so much about the plants and animals. He said he couldn’t make stuff up around us, since we knew so much. Yay for my training.

We also spent time watching this crane, which was driving holes to put in new retaining wall supports.

Scott also said some people he took out didn’t even appreciate what they were seeing, which made me sad. It’s such a treasure to have so much land reserved for wildlife, and there is so much to see!

Anita on a boat!

I would love to come back and do his other island tour.

Author: Sue Ann (Suna) Kendall

The person behind The Hermits' Rest blog and many others. I'm a certified Texas Master Naturalist and love the nature of Milam County. I manage technical writers in Austin, help with Hearts Homes and Hands, a personal assistance service, in Cameron, and serve on three nonprofit boards. You may know me from La Leche League, knitting, iNaturalist, or Facebook. I'm interested in ALL of you!

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