I’m back from my first week camping in the Congaree National Park outside Columbia, SC. It was the first of two weeks I will spend in the swamp searching for the Ivory Billed Woodpecker. And while I am not sure I can recommend camping for a couple of weeks in the middle of January, if you can, you really should visit the Park. It is the largest remnant of old growth flood plain forest in North America and the birding and wildlife viewing was wonderful. The park has a healthy population of wild pigs and I’m not sure who jumped highest each time I came across one in the woods, me or him. Although I didn’t get too close to one, evidence of their presence is everywhere. They are constantly rooting around for food so walking through the forest was like walking across a newly plowed field. And between that and the cypress knees that were everywhere, you really had to watch where you were going. Each night we were serenaded by Barred Owls and with overnight temperatures in the 20’s and 30’s, it was hard to get out of the warm sleeping bag but the team was up and on our way to our search sites well before dawn each day. Sitting quietly as the sun rose was a wonderful way to witness the swamp waking up. From otter, to pigs, to birds of all types, the wildlife viewing was spectacular. Draped in camo from head to toe, I blended in well enough to watch as the activity level increased the wildlife greeted the new day. On Wednesday night, it started raining and rained well into Thursday, but once it stopped, I could move much more quietly in the woods because the leaves were wet and muffled each step. I will be heading back down soon for a second week and will be posting a video on some of the sites, sounds and wildlife you can see in the swamp. So stay tuned and start planning a trip to the Congaree soon!
In Spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.” Margaret Atwood
Camping in January, Part 1