Old Santee Canal Park ...

by Russell Smith June. 03, 2019 219 views

While I was scrolling through images that I took earlier in the day yesterday I had a thought. I will try to get through the though in a somewhat liner manner. A challenge for me.

I think one thing that is important for me is to find a location close(ish) to the house that I can get out to multiple times a month at different times of the day. For me personally it is a spot in nature or that has a variety of wildlife/nature. Wait won't it make the spot boring and less special. Well there is that risk but to counter that risk I will go looking for one or two things or give myself a challenge Say walk 100 meters and take 6 shots or shoot blue things. While most of these shots go to live in the trash can or on a storage drive it is a fun challenge. When I lived in Aiken I had two or three spots that I haunted on the regular basis. Citizens Park (a ball field and open grass lands), A walk down a dirt road that went from town to country, and Hitchcock Woods (a 2100 acre woodland in town). If you ever get to Aiken and have more than one day to stay I would highly suggest going there for a few hours. Late Fall to Early Spring is best time temperature wise to go there. Anywho I am drifting onto a side thought so back to the main thought. For me here in Moncks Corner (just north of Charleston) my favorite close place is Old Santee Canal County Park. $3 an adult or $35 a year for a car +7 people.

Old Santee Canal Park is about 200 acres and has a small variety of habitat from swamp to lowland hardwoods. This brings in a variety of sites and wildlife. Being only about 2-3 miles from the house by road it is within walking distance if I want to go up there and my wife is not home. Being that this is more or less in a natural setting it fulfills my need to get nature therapy and my photography fix for the day. One major Con of this location is the 0900-1700 hours. During the winter this does give me afternoon light that is lovely but summertime it makes things a challenge but the forests will give me some shade and nice light.

Yesterday I went up with the sole purpose to find and make a good photograph of the Prothonotary Warbler and I gave myself 2-3 hours to accomplish this. While waiting on the warbler I did see a young Fawn. Unfortunately I got no decent shots of it or shots I would even think about posting. Once I saw that the warbler was not on the every few min. feeding cycle for the chick I poked around the boardwalk near the nesting box. Prothonotary Warbler is either the only warbler species or one of the very few that will nest in a box 99% of them only will build an open nest. One other fun fact is that they winter in South America and will return to the same area year after year. Most of the time to the same 1/2 acre or acre.

I did miss my intended focus point on this snake because it thought I might be a threat and move a bit.

I did miss my intended focus point on this snake because it thought I might be a threat and move a bit.

This guy is a Red Bellied Water Snake or also known as Plain Bellied Watersnake. A non poisonous snake that live in wetlands here. I suspect that with the vivid color on this snake it may have just shed its skin.

Here is another one of the same species. If you notice on this one the colors are dull and the eye looks a bit hazy. This is not a result of the light or a reflection of the sky in the snakes eye. This is the snake in the process of shedding its skin. The eye will cloud over to an almost opaque white. While this is happening the snake looses most of its eye sight so they can be a bit more defensive (often seen as aggressive).

You might be thinking why are snakes consistently hanging around this area. Well there is a virtual buffet of food close by.

Yepper frogs are on the menu for them.

Summer Tanager not a great photo because of the noise level in it but it is a document type shot. One that I took to show the bird. Same with the image below however it is a bit better of a shot.

I plan on getting better images of this species of bird in the near future. One for my hunting list. Also we saw a Yellow Billed Cuckoo a bird I have never seen let alone photograph. So yes I will stalk this bird too. I did say we because I was told I could join in a group that was doing a bird walk with an Audubon Guide who is a biologist studying the Warbler. As a thank you to the Biologist for his tips and knowledge I did send him the images of the first flight that I posted here . He is going to use that image on the SC Audubon Facebook page and also send it to the head of the park. For me this one was not about $$ for the image which he was initially concerned about but as a thank you and open a door for future opportunity.

Now if you ever get close to the Charleston area the 30-50 min trip up to Monck Corner is worth it especially if you like nature and wildlife. In addition to the Park there is also an Abbey , Lake, a National Forest, and part of the Palmetto Trail (if you like hiking). For more information about Old Santee Canal Park and the reason it has the name that it does. You can find that here. There is also a separate museum that you can visit while at the park and it is one of two buildings that has AC (a welcome thing after in the summer heat).

Do you have a favorite haunt close to you that fits with what you like to photograph? Have you ever thought about return trips to the same location?

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There are 25 comments , add yours!
Bethany Plonski 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Great set, and congrats on the Audubon pic! The summer tanager is beautiful. I have quite a few parks where I make repeat visits, but I still never know what I'm going to find there when I'm there. And I've gone to one park where there have been some yellow billed cuckoo sightings three different times without any luck. Hope your stalking will be successful!

5 months, 2 weeks ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Bethany Plonski 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Hopefully at least it gives me something to look forward to after all the first shot of the Prothonotary Warbler that I could see more than a yellow patch took me almost exactly a year to get. I love going to the same spot time and time again I tend to see more after a while because I am looking for different.

5 months, 2 weeks ago Edited
Radha Mistry 5 months, 3 weeks ago

What are you doing photographing snakes? You should be running fast in the opposite direction!

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Radha Mistry 5 months, 3 weeks ago

lol these are non poisonous so no real worries about them hehe.

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Heike 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Great photos and what a cool opportunity to do a bird walk with a biologist!

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Heike 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank you it was a great opportunity.

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Lynn F Medley 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Enjoyed the reading the info and your nature walks! Congratulations on getting an image posted for the SC Audubon group!

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Lynn F Medley 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank you :)

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Berckmans Peter 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Beautiful snake. We have only a few around here and rarely seen. Great info,thanks Russell

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Berckmans Peter 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank you. They are quite beautiful .

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Lee Santiva 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Great series with lots of information!  you have a lot of scary looking wildlife near where you live!

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Lee Santiva 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Most of it is only scary looking. There are a few that are dangerous but with a bit of common sense they are non threating. Thank you. I try to throw a bit of relative info into the posts when I can.

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Jay Boggess 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Nice work, Russell! I love wild animal captures!

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Jay Boggess 5 months, 3 weeks ago

Thank you. I love watching them and the way the interact with the world around them.

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Russell Smith 5 months, 3 weeks ago

My pleasure!
I grew up in the south Texas brush & cactus country, where I was always out looking for critters....

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Jay Boggess 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I grew up around the swamps of Fla and then my 10th  grade to graduation the hills of Eastern Panhandle of WV. In Fl. we kept an eye out for critters plus I was a hunter when I was younger I guess I am still now just using a Canon instead of a rifle hehe.

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Russell Smith 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I was a hunter too! 
Same here, now only use a camera, too.....not so messy......right??? 
I was born in Parkersburg, W. VA.

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Jay Boggess 5 months, 3 weeks ago

I graduated from Hampshire High School (Romney) WV.

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Russell Smith 5 months, 3 weeks ago

They moved me from West Virginia to San Antonio, TX, when I was only 2, so I'm really a Texan with Hillbilly blood (((GRIN)))

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Jay Boggess 5 months, 3 weeks ago

San Antonio is close to one of my favorite areas of Texas the Hill Country.

5 months, 3 weeks ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Russell Smith 5 months, 2 weeks ago

I spent many of my younger years hunting deer in the Hill Country, around Fredericksburg & Boerne...

5 months, 2 weeks ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Jay Boggess 5 months, 2 weeks ago

For a number of years my father would hunt in the hill country during the season and during the summer he would take me out to help out fix some things on the ranch and fix up the blinds. One of those summers I saw the biggest copperhead I have ever seen. It is a beautiful country. Also it was where I first had the soda Big Red and discovered humming birds will try to drink it before you do lol.

5 months, 2 weeks ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Russell Smith 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Ahhhhh Yes! Big Red.........tasted just like liquid bubble gum, as I recall.......Yep, In Texas, in the warm months, you really have to watch where you are walking and what you handle. Lots of surprises await the unwary.....no??? As a kid, out in the brush country, I would wander around looking for holes where critters might be and overturn rocks and brush piles where I might find creatures, making sure I had good high-top boots  & gloves.....

5 months, 2 weeks ago Edited
Russell Smith Replied to Jay Boggess 5 months, 2 weeks ago

Sounds like my childhood except I was in the swamp and well some days shoes were better not worn because it gave a better sense of what we were stepping on in the water and also caused us to slow down and look more.

5 months, 2 weeks ago Edited
Jay Boggess Replied to Russell Smith 5 months, 2 weeks ago

That makes sense!

5 months, 2 weeks ago Edited
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