Coastal Master Naturalists...

Registration Open for Blue Wall Birding Festival

Fourth Annual Blue Wall Birding Festival, held in Upstate South Carolina, from May 3-6, 2018.
Landscape view of Table Rock Mountain
Table Rock State Park

This small festival is again being hosted by South Carolina State Parks, and is meant to showcase the great spring birding that the area has to offer, as well as the area’s fantastic state parks. Birders who attended any of the previous festivals or the Carolina Bird Club meeting at Clemson in 2015 can attest to the great birding that Upstate SC has to offer in the spring.

Festival field trips will include The SC Botanical Garden at Clemson, the Townville area, the Nine Times Preserve, Table Rock and Caesars Head State Parks, Lake Jocassee, and Lake Conestee Nature Park. New this year will be a workshop on birding by ear, and we’ll again this year include one butterfly-focused field trip. Participation will be capped at 50 birders. For more information, click the link below.

Species of Spring Island

This June field trip was led by Tony Mills, host of SCETV’s “Coastal Kingdom” and one of the lead instructors for the LowCountry Master Naturalist program. During this eventful day on Spring Island, a sea island in Beaufort County, twenty participants learned about the flora and fauna along the wooded trails, in the creeks and in freshwater ponds. By the end of the experience, participants enjoyed discovering over thirty-five species including birds, reptiles, amphibians, fishes and mammals. In the classroom, they were able to examine and identify various reptiles and amphibians collected by Tony Mills. Here is a species list for the day:

In the field:

  • Meadow beauty (Rhexia sp.)
  • Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)
  • Tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor)
  • Tricolored heron (Egretta tricolor)
  • Wood stork (Mycteria americana)
  • Ladyfish (Elops saurus)
  • Menhaden (Brevoortia sp.)
  • Spot croaker (Leiostomus xanthurus)
  • White shrimp (Penaeus [Litopenaeus] setiferus)
  • Mud fiddler crab (Uca pugnax)
  • Red-jointed fiddler crab (Uca minax)
  • Sand fiddler crab (Uca pugilator)
  • Eastern grey squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)
  • Fox squirrel (Sciurus niger)
  • Marsh periwinkle (Littoraria irrorata)
  • Common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
  • Yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta)
  • Snapping Turtle (Chelydra serpentina)
  • Banded watersnake (Nerodia fasciata)
  • Eastern garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)

That is a 16 lb Snapping Turtle

In the classroom:

  • Dwarf salamander (Eurycea quadridigitata)
  • Marbled salamander (Ambystoma opacum)
  • Mole salamander (Ambystoma talpoideum)
  • Spotted salamander (Ambystoma maculatum)
  • Tiger salamander (Ambystoma tigrinum)
  • Eastern [red-spotted] newt (Notophthalmus viridescens)
  • Diamondback terrapin (Malaclemys terrapin)
  • Yellow-bellied slider (Trachemys scripta scripta)
  • Eastern narrow-mouth toad (Gastrophryne carolinensis)
  • Southern toad (Bufo [Anaxyrus] terrestris)
  • Barking treefrog (Hyla gratiosa)
  • Green treefrog (Hyla cinerea)
  • Southern leopard frog (Rana [Lithobates] sphenocephala)
  • Eastern glass lizard (Ophisaurus ventralis)
  • Corn snake (Elaphe [Pantherophis] guttata)
  • Eastern kingsnake (Lampropeltis getula)
  • Rough green snake (Opheodrys aestivus)
  • Scarlet kingsnake (Lampropeltis triangulum)
  • Yellow rat snake (Elaphe [Pantherophis] obsoleta quadrivittata)

KW and Corn Snake


CMNA Annual Meeting and Pot Luck ~ Sunday January 12, 2014! 2-5pm

Enjoy an afternoon surrounded by your nature tribe full of like-minded individuals!  The event will go on rain or shine!

Bring your favorite dish to share and be prepared for a stroll around the grounds at Caw Caw.

Come mingle with fellow graduates of the Charleston Master Naturalist program and meet members of the Board of Directors for the Coastal Master Naturalist Association.

Bring your Name Badges for recognition and to arrange for your Jewels for your volunteer hours. Also, bring a check for $15 for your 2014 membership renewal(if you have not already renewed).


“New” Roxbury Park – Near Edisto

Recently opened to the public this 157-acre passive park along the Toogoodoo Creek offers nature lovers quite a treat.   Within Roxbury Park are eight unique ecosystems where birding and wildlife observation are excellent year round while hiking or biking along the well-maintained trails and/or canoeing or kayaking on the two large ponds or on Toogoodoo Creek.  This ecosystem diversity includes:  hardwood forest, loblolly forest, hayfield, brackish pond, freshwater pond, tidal creek with marsh and swamp.  For photos and information visit the website:  Recently spotted hanging around the ponds and creek were Roseate Spoonbills and White Pelicans.

Roxbury Park is owned and operated by the Town of Meggett, which purchased the land in 2011 from a developer who had planned 60 homesites on the property.  Charleston County Rural Greenbelt funding was key in preserving this land, as was Meggett Town Council leadership, in particular the vision of conservationist, Tom Hutto.  Improvements to the park are on-going:  The boat launching facilities will be completed in Spring 2014, after which time canoes and kayaks will be allowed in the park.

The park is located on a tract that was once a part of Roxbury Plantation, at the intersection of Toogoodoo Creek and Highway 174, between Charleston and Edisto Island.

Directions from the Charleston area: from Highway 17 South turn onto Highway 174 and proceed until you cross the bridge over Toogoodoo Creek.  Immediately after crossing the bridge the gate to Roxbury Park is on your left.

The park is open to the public at no charge on Saturdays and Sundays from 8 a.m. until 6 p.m.  Please read the detailed guidelines for park usage on the website, but here are a few answers to your questions:

Yes, dogs are allowed on leash only. Fishing is permitted in both ponds on a catch-and-release basis only. A porta-potty is provided in the designated parking area.

Some upcoming planned activities at Roxbury include a series of fungi walks led by park manager, Ken Carman, at 2:00 p.m. on Dec. 21, 22, 28, and 29 – sign up on the park website,  Also, the CMNA is planning an excursion at Roxbury for late February-early March – stay tuned for details.  In the meantime, go for a visit and explore the well-marked trails. And refer your friends to the website and Facebook for Roxbury Park, the newest addition to our wonderful network of passive nature parks in the Greater Charleston area.

UPSTATE Master Naturalist Trips (UMNA) that are open to the CMNA!

Monday, Oct. 28 – Fall Tour on Lake Jocassee

11am to 2pm – $20

Bring your lunch and come along to enjoy the beauty of fall on the lake.

Please contact Brooks or Kay to rsvp by email or by phone 864-280-5501


Monday, December 9th 9am  BRASSTOWN FALLS HIKE led by UMNA President Dan Whitten

Please email Seth Harrison, UMNA Vice President, with any questions!




Dewees Island Shorebird Count and Tour

IMG_2783It’s a field trip AND a volunteer activity!  On Thursday, October 17th, we’ll meet at 6:45 at the Dewees Island Ferry to ride over to Dewees for the island’s International Shorebird Study count/training program.  We will be an official site next year, but we are learning to identify, count, and enter information about shorebirds this year.  Along the way, the docks and oyster middens provide some great sightings of Oystercatchers, gulls, terns, and the occasional Whimbrel.

Meet at the Dewees Marina on 41st Street on the Isle of Palms.  (Here’s a transportation video that shows how to take the ferry.)  Bring lunch and snacks– there are no stores of any kind on the island (but Judy will make some coffee in a thermos.)  We’ll tour the island with Ecologist Lori Sheridan WIlson, get a sense of sustainable building practices, and check out nesting Bald Eagles, migrating warblers, native wildflowers, and butterflies.  Space is limited to 16 participants.  Click here  to sign up.

Is that hour too early for you?  There are four hospitality suites on the island and we can give you discounted rates to stay there if you are participating in an island project.  Call us at 843-882-5052 and leave a message that you are with Coastal Master Naturalists.  If Saturdays are easier for you, the Midlands Master Naturalists are coming on a scouting tour on the 12th of October, and we have about 4 slots available to come then: email Judy for more info.

Carolina Bay Field Trip by Carl W. Cole

On a recent Saturday, August 31st, seven Coastal Master Naturalists, led by Elise Wallace, went on a field trip to a Carolina Bay in the Francis Marion National Forest.  Along for their first CMNA field trip were Spring 2013 MN graduates Larry and Chris Hayden.  Also present were Ed Farnworth, Judith Kramer, Ann Truesdale, and I.  It was the same Carolina Bay adjacent to a power line right of way that MN classes have visited with Dr. Porcher. OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

This field trip was expressly timed to catch wildflowers blooming.  Judith consolidated a plant list (see below) with more than two dozen species, most of them blooming wildflowers.

We met at the Sewee Center – with the added treat of saying hello to MN Michelle Wrenn – then headed down forest service roads following part of a “Wildflower Driving Tour” on a map Elise provided.   We disembarked several times enroute to the Carolina Bay and walked the roadside identifying plants and other species.  Elise got some of the “herding cats” experience that’s typical of anyone trying to lead a group of Master Naturalists very far through the woods.  Several times, she’d say something like “Let’s move on” and get a couple of people headed to their vehicles only to look back and see a quorum of the group reassembled off the roadside somewhere.


In the power line right of way, the pitcher plants were magnificent!  They were mostly Yellow Pitcher Plants Sarracenia flava with a few Hooded Pitcher plants Sarracenia minor.  (A little later, in the Carolina Bay, Ann also spotted a clump of Sweet Pitcher Plant Sarracenina rubra.)  OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA
Larry, who retired from the Forest Service and still consults with the Francis Marion forest, expressed concern that the plants in the power company’s right of way may be at risk of herbicide treatment, rather than a prescribed burn (which Dr. Porcher told us the pitcher plants are evolved to survive). What a shame that would be!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAThe Carolina Bay, which was dry the last time I saw it, was nicely wet with more than ankle deep water in the center.  The field trip was expressly to see wildflowers but, knowing that I’ve been stalking dragonflies with my camera lately, Elise would point out any that she saw that morning.  Earlier, they’d all been cruising and too far away to catch with my camera but the Carolina Bay was filled with Little Blue Dragonlets Erythrodiplax minuscule mating and perching on the two-foot-tall grasses in the middle of the bay long enough for me to get some photos. (That’s how I knew it was ankle deep.)

Then, on the walk back out of the bay, Elise spotted a damselfly and a small dragonfly, both perched on low vegetation along the path.  What we first thought was a dragonfly because of its partially extended wings actually turned out to be a damselfly, one of the aptly-named spreadwings Lestes sp.  Once I got the close-up photos out of the camera, the slender body and widely separate eyes were damselfly clues, but these ancient old eyes of mine didn’t even see those features in the field.  I thought it was an adult female Southern Spreadwing Lestes australis or a Carolina Spreadwing Lestes vidua but Giff Beaton identified it as a Swamp Spreadwing Lestes vigilax.  I thought the small dragonfly might be a female of one of the pennants Celithemis sp.  but Giff Beaton identified it as an adult female Blue Dasher Pachydiplax longipennis.

As we walked through the right of way earlier, Larry commented how tough it is for forest service personnel to do growing season prescribed burns in such weather.  By about 12:30 – without burning anything – some of us had enough of the heat and decided to call it a day.  On the way back, several of us stopped at the Sewee Center again to eat lunch and chat in the cool shade of the covered picnic tables, a nice ending to a great field trip.

Thanks to Elise for leading the trip and to Bill Thielfoldt for facilitating the signup!

Plant List

Blazing Star  Liatris spicata

Vetches – and assortment

Meadow Beauty –  Rhexia

Orange Milkwort – Polygala lutea

Toothache Grass – Clenium aromaticum

Slender Seedbox – Ludwigia virigata

Yellow Fringed Orchid – Habenaria (Platanthera) ciliaris

Bitter Mint – Hyptis alata

Barbara’s Buttons – Marshallia gramminifolia

Eryngo – Eryngium integrifolium

Yellow Trumpet Pitcher Plant – Saracenia flava

Hooded Pitcher Plant – Saracenia minor

Sweet Pitcher Plant – Saracenia rubra

Blue Flag Iris – Iris tridentata

Giant White Topped Sedge – Dichromenia latifolia

Pipewort – Eriocaulon decangulare

Pond Cypress – Taxodium ascendens

Heal-All – Prunella vulgaris

Black-eyed Susan – Rudbeckia Herta

Bitter weed – Helenium amarum

Swamp Sunflower – Heleanthus angustifolius

Spreading Sunflower – Heleanthus divaricatus

Mist Flower – Eupatorium coelestinum

(apparently now Conoclinium coelestinum as per the Missouri Botanical Gardens)

Boneset – Eupatorium perfoliatum

Ironweed – Veronia

Fleabane – Erigeron philadelphicus

Club Moss – Lycopodium

Additional Reading

More Carolina Bay Information

Francis Marion Carolina Bays

Francis Marion Wildflower Viewing

(Notice that the Conifer Road Loop page has photos by Ricky Wrenn, MN Michelle Wrenn’s husband.  How cool is that!)

“Dragonflies and Damselflies of Georgia and the Southeast” by Giff Beaton

Field Trip to Botany Bay Scheduled April 6, 2013

Nan Salas has arranged for us to have a tour of Botany Bay: Saturday April 6th 10am CMNA field trip to Botany Bay WMA, Edisto Island.
Led by Master Naturalist and DNR Botany Bay employee Bill Johnston. RSVP to Nancy Salas.
We will meet at 10 am in the beach parking lot for walk and talk about marsh and beach ecology. There are lots of volunteer opportunities here; come learn about what’s available. The walk to Botany Bay beach is 1/2 mile long and we’ll be walking the causeway through wetlands and 2 hammock islands, so LOTS to see. Low tide that day- 11:45am, so great timing if it doesn’t take us 4 hours to get to the beach!
Nancy will be at the kiosk from 9-950am that morning to assist signing folks in as they arrive; Bill will be in the beach parking lot by 9:30am. for directions to Botany Bay.