Yawkey Wildlife Center
Our second outing in May was to the Yawkey Wildlife Center in Georgetown, SC.
It was my first visit to the center, but I will be back! Our guide for the day was Jim Lee, a SCDNR Education and Outreach Coordinator. Jim was an absolute wealth of information not only about the area's natural history, but also about the history of the wildlife center itself.
The center is named after Tom Yawkey, who inherited the South Carolina land from his uncle, Tom, in 1925 and purchased the remaining interests in the South Carolina land from other investors, and then, for the next 50+ years purchased the surrounding tracts of land for the purposes of preserving the land as a wildlife refuge.
At Tom’s death in 1976, the property consisted of 20,000 acres of managed wetlands, forest openings, ocean beach, longleaf pine forest and maritime forest.
Now encompassing more than 24,000 acres, the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center is principally dedicated as a wildlife preserve, research area, and waterfowl refuge.
While looking for a Red Cockaded Woodpecker, which we didn't see, this eastern Wood Pewee made an appearance!
As we drove around the property, Jim pointed out areas of interest, such as the Hickory stands where evidence has been found that people inhabited the area up to 7,000 years ago! There was also evidence of more recent settlements dating back to 1749.
Jim was also proud of the fact that Tom Yawkey was not only a philanthropist, but a naturalist and insisted on managing the property in a way that mother nature would be proud!
To this day, they burn approximately 3,0000 acres of the Long Leaf Pine habitat that is home to the Red Cockaded Woodpecker, on a regular basis, but they do it in the spring and summer.
90% of of lightning happens in the summer months and historically this was the cause of the burns that provided a healthy Long Leaf Pine habitat during the growing season.
Burns occurring outside of these months, and especially in the winter, created a different type of habitat that consists mainly of ferns....winter burns create more ferns was Jim's mantra!
Since 1979 the center has been at the forefront of alligator research, and in collaboration with Clemson University as well as the Florida Fish & Wildlife Foundation, this study continues today and is the longest known continuous alligator study in the world. Focused on American alligator growth and reproduction, the study provides scientists visibility into the alligator population unlike anywhere else in the world.
Georgetown Lighthouse on North Island
Due to the nature of the tour, ie a bus ride, we only occasionally exited the bus so I didn't have the opportunity to take too many photos, but the wildlife viewing was outstanding! We saw deer, turkeys, Black Necked Stilts, Roseate Spoonbills, and abundance of egrets and herons of all varieties, Sandpipers, and Glossy Ibis, to name a few! Yes, there were a LOT of alligators!
On our last stop, we were blessed not only with a view of the Georgetown Lighthouse on North Island, but also had a Bald Eagle fly by and Red Tailed Hawk sighting in the distance!
Always a special day when one of these makes an appearance!
All in all a fantastic day out.
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