Wildlife: As We See It…

Welcome to the Kiawah Island Nature Program’s wildlife sightings page. 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 site will get you excited about the amazing and diverse wildlife found on Kiawah. Get outside and share your photos and stories with us at Kiawah_Recreation@KiawahResort.com.

 

July 15th, 2017~ American Avocets

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American Avocets spotted today during a Back Island Birding Tour. These peculiarly billed birds typically breed in salt-flats in the western United States and are not commonly seen in South Carolina during the summer. They do visit the state in larger numbers during winter and spring, but are rarely ever seen on Kiawah Island. Avocets use their long legs to wade through shallow waters, sweeping their up-curved bill from side to side with the tip of the bill just below the water. Photo taken by Naturalist Jake Zadik.

July 8th, 2017~ Reddish Egret

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Kudos to naturalists Juliana and Jake for spotting this reddish egret at the east end of the island. The reddish egret is known for its bizarre feeding behavior: running through the tidal pools in long strides, leaping across to stalk their prey, and raising its wings to help reduce the glare on the water. This comical dance is one of a kind and a true treasure to see! Join us on a Back Island Birding van tour to learn more!. Photo taken by Naturalist Jake Zadik.

July 1st, 2017~ Eastern Hercules Beetle

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One of our Recreation Specialists found this male Eastern Hercules Beetle in the back parking lot of the Nature Center. Another common name is the Rhinoceros Beetle due to the male’s two horn projections which he will use to most likely fight off other males. Larvae will snack on rotten trees for up to 2 years before becoming a rotten fruit-loving adult. Photo taken by Naturalist Jake Zadik

June 8th, 2017~ Oystercatcher Parent and Chick

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Oystercatchers most commonly nest on shell rings found through marshes of South Carolina. However a few oystercatcher pairs opt for nesting on the dunes. When the young oystercatchers are big enough to move around, the parents will generally take them to the edges of tidal pools, teaching them how to forage and survive on their own. This photo, taken by naturalist Jake Zadik, depicts this behavior. The photo was taken on the far east end of Kiawah, where the people are few, the tidal pools are rich, and the dunes are protected (for shorebird nesting!).

May 30, 2017~ Spadefoot Toad

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Spadefoot Toads (Scaphiopus holbrookii) are a very common amphibian on Kiawah Island. Have you ever seen one? They are incredibly tough to spot due to their fossorial nature (they like to be underground). Noted and subsequently named for the hard keratinous ‘spades’ on their feet, they can quickly scrape away ground and become invisible in seconds. The photographed Spadefoot was found trapped in a pool pump room by Naturalists Juliana and Kristen. Photo taken by naturalist Jake Zadik.

February 8, 2017~ Beach Critters
While on a beach walk yesterday, my group and I stumbled upon a really large club-finger sponge. The sponge itself was really cool – probably one of the biggest I’ve ever seen on Kiawah, and bright orange – but it was what we found on the sponge that was so exciting… hiding in the branches of the sponge was a new find for me: a spineback hairy crab! As the name suggests, these little crabs are sparsely covered with tiny little hairs on the carapace (back) and black-tipped chelipeds (claws), and a few spines on each side. They top out at about 1.5 inches wide, but our little girl was only about an inch wide. After having a quick photoshoot with our spiny friend, we placed her back on the club-finger sponge, and left them both to be taken back by the tide. Winter Wonders Walk!

– Naturalist Ally

January 5, 2017~ Fly by at Mingo

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Captain Brad snapped a photo of a hawk flying by the Mingo Point shack with his iPhone! Despite the not-so-red tail feathers on this bird, this is a young Red-tailed Hawk. Red-tailed hawks can look very different from one another based on age, location and time of year. However, the easiest way to identify a Red-tailed Hawk is from the “comma” marks on the wrists of the wings (circled in red).

There will be lots of hawks and other birds of prey flying around this winter. Stay curious and happy birding!