REPORTED BY PAT PRESS AND CAROL FRANCHI
Early morning showers lightly dripping through the tall pines and fragrant magnolias greeted the excited group of birdwatchers and photographers at Birdsong Nature Center on Saturday, June 9th. We were all eager bird watchers ready to take in the deep south woods marshes. On arriving we were greeted by our Birdsong guide. We then caravanned down through the bluebird meadows full of raspberry bushes to the swampy pond where the wood storks were nesting with their two youngsters. The guides and some local photographers had set up telescopes and cameras on tripods aimed at the wood stork nest which gave us a terrific view.
These scopes provided us with an unbelievable and wondrous sight. The wood stork youngsters were braving the showers and light breezes in their huge nest at the top of a gigantic tree. Surprisingly their nest was exposed to daily elements of extreme heat and often the usual spring afternoon thunderstorms. The parents shelter their nestlings under their huge wings to provide shade and protection on the piney ledge so high above the undergrowth.
In back of the wood stork nest was a nesting family of great blue herons. We could not see the nest, however we could hear their lively breakfast. The faithful birdwatchers listened with delight at the feeding sounds coming from the marsh nest. The parents flew in with breakfast and a loud cacophony of engaging screams, screeches and honks came flying back to our ears through the forest as the babies were being fed. Off to the right some white egret parents were swirling through the marsh woods lifting high on the breezes of the approaching late spring storm. Off to the right and slightly below the storks were two anhinga. They surveyed the marsh and then flew off above the forest.
The wood stork nest is the first to be sighted at Birdsong, though others have nested at plantations in South Georgia. These beautiful birds are being pushed into this area from their usual breeding grounds In Florida due to habitat loss, according to our knowledgeable guide. Birdsong Nature Center is planning a fundraising event in July called “Wood Storks: The Summer of Love.”
We enjoyed the opportunity to take in the sights and sound of nature and to take in the serenity of being in the forest. Take a short trip up Meridian Road into South Georgia and give yourself this a birding treat!