The REAL Hilton Head Lighthouse

Here’s a trivia question for people who have visited Hilton Head Island – Where can you find the Hilton Head lighthouse?  If you answered Harbour Town, you are only partly correct.  The well known Harbour Town Light was privately built as part of Harbour Town Marina and Sea Pines Plantation.

untitled shoot-5584
Harbour Town Light

There is another lighthouse on Hilton Head that most people don’t know about.  Officially, it is called the Hilton Head Range Rear Light  and it is located on Hole 15 of the Arthur Hills Golf Course in the Leamington section of the Palmetto Dunes Resort.

untitled shoot-5563
Leamington Light and Oil House

It is quite an unusual and historic lighthouse but is out of the way and so, not very well known.  The remaining structure is the interior cast-iron skeleton of what was once a wooden-clad tower that would look more like the traditional lights that we are used to.  The tower is called the “Rear” light because there were originally two towers.  The front light no longer exists but when operational, ships would line up beams from the two lights to give them an exact location when navigating the channel of Port Royal Sound.

The rear tower still stands along with the original brick Oil House.  The keeper’s house was moved and now is in Harbour Town near the more famous of Hilton Head’s lights.

 

To get to the lighthouse, you need to gain entrance to the Leamington neighborhood with is gated and requires special permission to enter.  We were staying in the Palmetto Dunes resort and got a pass to get in and view the light but we wouldn’t have known it exists if we hadn’t read about it.  The light is not on the shoreline and is not visible from a distance.  We actually drove right by it when we first went in so, you really have to know where to look in order to find it.

Hilton Head Range Rear Light
(a.k.a. Leamington Light)
Arthur Hills Golf Course
Palmetto Dunes – Leamington
Hilton Head Island, South Carolina

Nikon D7100
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
38mm @ f/11 – 1/200 sec – ISO 200

Snakebird

I first saw this bird sunning on a branch along the edge of Woody Pond at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.  It was not a familiar species to me and I initially thought it was a cormorant.

untitled shoot-5344
Anhinga sunning at Woody Pond

The Anhinga’s name comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird. The origin of this name is obvious when the bird is swimming. It swims with the body submerged and just ‘s long, slender head and neck the above the water so the bird looks like a snake ready to strike.

untitled shoot-5362
The “snake bird” with catfish

The Anhinga pictured above had just caught a catfish and was swimming back and forth with the prey speared on the end of its beak.  At first, the fish was flapping about but the bird held it and waited for the wriggling to stop.  The Anhinga then flipped the fish up quickly to release it from the beak. After a little juggling to re-position, the fish was quickly swallowed whole.

This was quite a process to watch.

 

North American Anhinga
(Anhinga anhinga leucogaster)

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Townsend, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
420mm @ f/9 – 1/80 sec – ISO 320

Blue Heron on the watch

On a more serious note, yesterday’s post was a juvenile tri-colored heron which was an awkward and humorous bird to see.  This blue heron is much more representative of the beautiful birds that adult herons are.  I also loved the patterns in the driftwood that provided a nice spot for this one to stand and enjoy the morning.

It is a great adventure to watch and capture images of the beauty and diversity that nature has to offer.  Time to get out and enjoy it!

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Townsend, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/9 – 1/100 sec – ISO 320

Pink Dragonfly

I think this is a Roseate Skimmer Dragonfly (Orthemis ferruginea) but I’m not sure about that.  Anybody out there an expert on dragonfly identification?

I was told by Mike Moats that the best time for Dragonfly images is early on a cold morning.  He said those conditions cause the insects to be very slow-moving which allows you to get in close and not spook them off.  It seems that hot and humid may not be too bad a combination either.

untitled shoot-5407

While we were at Harris Neck NWR in Townsend, Georgia, the butterflies and dragonflies flitted about the rim of Woody Pond but when they landed, they stayed in place for quite a while.  This pink specimen was sitting at the end of a reed and didn’t seem to be bothered at all by my photography.  It probably helped that I was using my long lens and was not all that close but he didn’t move at all, even when the wind occaisionally picked up.

Roseate Skimmer Dragonfly
(Orthemis ferruginea)

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Townsend, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/9 – 1/125 sec – ISO 320

Eastern tiger swallowtail

On our trip to Harris Neck, I got a couple of bonuses when looking for bird images.  One was the presence of some cool insect life around Woody Pond where the bird rookery was.  Another, was to discover that my Tamron 150-600 works equally well for relatively close shots as it does for distance.

There were some neat butterflies and dragonflies at the pond’s edge enjoying the wildflowers and sunshine.  I certainly couldn’t blame them since this was a beautiful morning to be out enjoying nature and all it has to offer.

I guess I have to go back to work now but, I can always dream of the next opportunity to see beauty like this and capture more images to share.

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Townsend, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/9 – 1/200 sec – ISO 320

Shelter Cove Harbour

There was a beautiful sunset at the Harbor across from Palmetto Dunes.  We had gone out to dinner and saw the color start to tint the horizon and went over to see what it looked like.  At first, we thought we had missed it but then the sky turned orange and things were really nice.  It was a great way to spend our last evening on Hilton Head.

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 16-300mm F/3.5-6.3 Di II VC
16mm @ f/13 – 1/5 sec – ISO 400

Heron fishing

I believe this is a Green Heron who was fishing along the edge of Woody Pond at the Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.  I watched as this bird was concentrating hard and would periodically thrust his beak into the water and come back up with a small fish.  They must have amazing eyesight because I certainly couldn’t see anything through the reflections coming off the water.

Harris Neck is a beautiful wildlife refuge just south of Savannah, Georgia.  The peninsula was once the home of an Army airfield which was abandoned after World War II.  The area was taken over as a National Wildlife Refuge in 1962 and is home to a wide variety of  birds and other animals such as alligators.  The alligators were definitely out and about when we were there.  We saw some small ones and could hear the adults bellowing in the swampy areas.  You do need to be aware of your surroundings out here.

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
McIntosh County, GA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
500mm @ f/9 – 1/640 sec – ISO 320