Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Common Wildlife on Kiawah Island

After a day or two spent in Kiawah, one gets quickly acquainted to the island wildlife. These inhabitants include the friendly (and not so friendly) faces of alligators, herons, egrets, bobcats, turtles, and deer. These critters meander daily throughout the coastal marshes. Even the “once a year” tourist (like myself) stands a great chance to view them all with the exception of the bobcat which I have only been fortunate enough to spy once in my previous eleven trips to South Carolina. Hopefully this year I will spot one again.

Alligators are typically found sunbathing on the various golf courses next to the water hazards. They appear pretty docile unless approached closely. If one is startled, he or she may begin to hiss or growl and turn their bodies. If you shank golf ball on one of the Kiawah fairways close to an alligator, best to let it alone and give yourself a free drop somewhere safer. Also keep your eyes open when trekking down the bike paths; I had to take a bike trail detour by Night Heron when one of the gators was camped out on the bike path right in front of a bridge crossing. I have also spotted these large reptiles swimming in the various lagoons on the island. As menacing as these gators appear, I find their prehistoric demeanor fascinating. My kids also enjoy them, from a distance. Small gators can also be found during a visit to the Night Heron Nature Center.

Herons can be spotted throughout the numerous lagoons and salt marshes on Kiawah and Seabrook. They have a pretty white or gray coat and stand about three to four feet high. The snowy white egrets (or small white heron) are also found in these areas. The American crow also is found throughout the island and can be distinctively identified by its “uh-oh” call. These birds are pleasant to watch and hear during a morning cup of coffee on the patio.

Turtles are spotted in the various lagoons. They are usually perched upon rocks and large fallen trees that emerge out of the water. They can also be found sunning themselves on some of the golf courses. For being labeled a slow creature, they can move remarkably fast when started and will jump into the water upon surprise.
There are a handful of bobcats on Kiawah. I w as shocked to learn that the bobcat is not really that large of a cat as its weight out at about 30 pounds and do not stand much taller than the domestic tabby cat. They have a pretty leopard pattern on their coat. Several of these bobcats have been tagged by local conservationists and their population is being constantly monitored. I hope to see more of these critters soon.
Deer are prevalent on Kiawah. Where you spot one, you may usually spot many others not too far behind. Take extra caution when driving down Kiawah Island Parkway early in the morning and late at night. These mammals are busy out and about. They are not as timid as they deer we have back here in Illinois. Some deer on the island will venture very close to homes and villas. My kids always seem to spot them before I do.
The coastline and inlets of Kiawah and Seabrook will occasionally be a good place to spot dolphins. These animals are sometimes mistaken for sharks given the grey appearance and similar body size. I have spotted these playful creatures a handful of times during afternoons on the beach. One also stands a good chance of spotting a dolphin during a kayak or canoe trek down the Kiawah River.

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