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Cumberland Island & Savannah NWR

Updated: Apr 16, 2023

This excellent non-birding trip (aka honeymoon), which included an extended stay on Cumberland Island (GA) and a quick trip to Savannah NWR (SC), yielded some really interesting birds. A total of 68 species of birds over 5 days was a quality-over-quantity experience, including 4 new life birds.


Cumberland Island, GA: The island (last barrier island in GA, just north of Florida border) is a really special place, featuring around 17 miles of undeveloped beach, a massive maritime forest covered in live oaks and saw palmetto, and a fantastic marsh. The majority of the island is federally-owned national seashore, similar to some of our NC OBX islands. En route to Cumberland via boat, I spotted a total of 7 Roseate Spoonbills (life birds)--that's a good start to a trip if you ask me. The island had a good diversity of bird life, including all sorts of wading birds and a respectable number of early fall migrant shorebirds, as well as some interesting inland birds too. Painted buntings frequented birdfeeders, common ground-doves (another lifer) were present, and I noted at least 21 wild turkey roaming (and climbing) the ancient Dungeness Ruins at the southern end of the island. Perhaps even more notable was the diversity of mammalian life. In addition to the ubiquitous feral horses, the island also featured dolphin, deer, raccoon, and armadillo (and of course, many other species I didn't see).


Savannah NWR, SC: Due to a flight cancellation, we ended up driving through Savannah NWR (in SC, but just north of Savannah, GA) for some early-morning birding. That place was amazing! Both Common and (lifer) Purple Gallinule were abundant and allowed for decent photos. Other notable birds included at least 50 Cattle Egret, and distant looks at two Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks (life bird #4 for the trip, and #273 overall).


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