Don’t let the ‘swamp’ in the name discourage you. The Audubon Swamp Garden has some of the most stunning natural beauty and dazzling wildlife in the whole of South Carolina. Located near Magnolia Plantation in Charleston, it served originally as a reservoir for the rice fields in the plantation. But with time the reservoir was covered, cypress and tupelo trees sprang up and the black water swamp came into existence. But far from being another mosquito-infested swamp where reptiles roam free, this wetland is crisscrossed with trails, dikes, and boardwalks. At the back, there’s a paved path which makes the swamp more accessible for tours.
A Festival of Birds
Bird lovers would be thrilled to learn about the wading bird rookery right at the heart of the swamp. It becomes most active and populated during the spring. But it’s not just the wading bird that makes a home of this wetland, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Anhingas, Great Blue Herons, and Little Blue Herons also favor this part of Charleston. You can see their nests on the trees with the Great Blue Herons always preferring the higher branches of the trees so you’ll need a good pair of binoculars to spot them. While the Snowy Egrets and Little Blue Herons take to the thick bushy trees which makes them harder to watch.
Critters Step Gingerly
Taking your eyes away from the trees and focusing on the ground is a good idea. While the White-eyed Vireo and the Northern Parula are busy with their singing competition, reptiles slither in the thick undergrowth and alligators watch you closely with their wide eyes. Turtles too ample along or just take up the sun on the platforms. But they’re rather shy and would slip back into the water when they see you approach. The same applies to marsh rabbits. You’ll really have to be extra quiet in order to get close to them without scaring them off. But if you do startle them they would jump right into the swamp and float away submerged alligator-like with only their eyes breaking the surface.
Audubon Swamp Garden Hiking and Photography
Hiking and photography are two activities you’ll want to do in the Audubon Swamp Garden. You’ll need a powerful camera though to capture the birds high up in the trees or the white-tailed deer who are camera shy and would dart away among the trees as soon as they see a bipedal snapping pictures. As for hiking, the trails cover most of the hotspots in the swamp and you’ll enjoy a hearty walk.