2023 Wildlife Sightings: Incredible Findings and Photos

Welcome to the Kiawah Island Nature Program’s 2023 wildlife sightings. Here you’ll find postings from our Naturalists and island biologists, showing you what is currently in the field, as well as an archive of observations from throughout the year. We hope this archive will get you excited about the amazing and diverse wildlife found on Kiawah Island. Share your photos and stories with us at Kiawah_Recreation@KiawahResort.com.

January 20, 2023 ~ A pond of baby alligators

When our Naturalists participated in the 2023 Winter Bird Count, we were tasked with spotting and identifying birds across Kiawah – specifically, we surveyed the Kiawah River and the Ocean Park area. However, among one of the coolest sightings wasn’t any bird, but a local alligator nest one of our Naturalists stumbled upon! This nest is incredible; we totaled 12 alligators in an extremely small area. There was one large alligator (presumably the mother) and a group of her babies! Mother ‘gators lay clutches of up to 50 eggs and stay with their young for around two years. This particular mom found a wonderful spot to hide them, as she was well hidden within a forested area, but not too far away from a larger pond for her to gather food.

Naturalist Cheyenne recently decided to come back to this spot and see if she could get any good pictures. Of course – she found some incredible angles. Still, these ‘gator babies can be tricky to spot. Can you see all of them in the picture? There’s more than one!

January 18, 2023 ~ Red-tailed Hawk

While on a Back Island Birding tour, Naturalist Cheyenne was lucky enough to come across a gorgeous red-tailed hawk! This beautiful bird of prey was perched nicely on a tree, ignoring her tour completely as it scanned the surroundings for some food. At the requests of her tour, Cheyenne managed snap some great photos of the show! During this Back Island Birding adventure, Cheyenne and her group managed to find four different birds of prey – not to mention tons of shorebirds, herons, and others.

Such an amazing shot!

January 17, 2023 ~ Pretty pretty bluebird

Regardless of the season, eastern bluebirds are a common sighting along the island. Looking at this picture it is easy to see why – they’re absolutely stunning! Males sport a bright blue back, an orange chest, and a white belly. I always fine them on early morning walks; they are particularly common in grassy areas near the canopy. Similar to yellow-rumped warblers, you can find them all across the ground picking up early morning snacks. If you ever fine a sunny spot, keep an eye out! They love to fly around, and you might get yourself a beautiful view like this one 🙂

Happy Birding!

~ Naturalist Stephen

January 13, 2023 ~ Blue crab

A common sight around Kiawah, the blue crab is a beautiful (and delicious) crustacean with colorful blue claws and legs. I found this one in one of my usual birding spots, but definitely look out for crabs in any of Kiawah’s muddy, or shallow water areas. You’re bound to find some of these beautiful fellas!

~ Naturalist Stephen

January 10, 2023 ~ A killdeer, you say?

If you’ve seen my posts before, you would know that I’m a huge fan of our shorebird population! While at the Ocean Course admiring the diving pelicans and gorgeous beach, I found quite a treat!

Killdeer are a gorgeous, small group of plovers that nest in the upper banks of beach and marshland – farther up than most shorebirds prefer to go. While they’re small, they’re beautiful black rings and bright red eyes make them an easy spot (if you are lucky enough to find them out in the open)!

Killdeer have an incredible characteristic they employ to protect their young. If a predator approaches their nest, the mother will fly a safe distance away from the nest, before chirping loudly to attract the predators attention. More so, the mother killdeer will even taunt its wing to the predator as if it were broken. Said predator might ditch the nest in favor of an easy treat – but that is just what the killdeer wants! It will continue to lure potential danger away using this “broken wing” method until its nest is safe and sound. Talk about smart 🙂

~ Naturalist Stephen

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