Knowles Island
Birding the Lowcountry
With its salt marshes, abundant forests, coastal estuaries and diverse wildlife refuges, South Carolina’s Lowcountry is an ideal destination for both birds and birders alike.
Rating (5)
Program No. 20959RJ
6 days
Starts at
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6 days
5 nights
14 meals
5 B 4 L 5 D
Getting There
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Check-in, Registration, Orientation, Welcome Dinner
Palm Key community of cottages
Palm Key community of cottages

Activity note: Activity Notes Check in, settle in, and meet the scholars sharing your cottage or lodge. An orientation to the week's activities will follow dinner.

Afternoon: Arrive at Palm Key between 4:00-5:30 pm to check in and pick up program materials. Once you are settled into your room, meet the others who are sharing your cottage and enjoy a chat on the back porch. At 5:30 pm, meet and greet other participants at a little party before dinner. Please note that Indicated times are approximate. Program activities, schedules, and personnel may need to change due to local circumstances including weather and seasonal hunting restrictions. In the event of changes, we will alert you as quickly as possible. Thank you for your understanding.

Dinner: You are probably hungry after traveling, so enjoy the first of our sumptuous lowcountry dinners, served at 6:00 pm. Join other scholars to compare notes about previous programs and follow up on earlier conversations. Don't miss the dessert buffet!

Evening: After dinner, join us for a short orientation as the instructors share specific plans for the week and answer any questions you have about the program and facilities. We'll also talk about some of the birds you might expect to see this week and have a preview of the places we'll visit. But we know you're tired from traveling, so we'll be sure you get to bed at a reasonable hour!

Birding at Savannah National Wildlife Refuge & More
Palm Key community of cottages
Palm Key community of cottages

Activity note: What a great day! Put on your walking shoes, grab your binoculars, Sibley's Guide, and sunscreen, and plan to see some really neat birds.

Breakfast: Breakfast served at 8:00 am. Fuel up on our sumptuous low country breakfast--you'll have an active day! Will it be grits and eggs? Or is it an oatmeal day? Come dressed for birding.

Morning: OK, breakfast over, it's time to get down to the business of birding. Appropriately dressed, well equipped with binoculars, bird ID book, and your water bottle, you're ready to visit several wildlife refuges. Be prepared to spend some quality time in the van discussing the birds we see. In addition, instructors will highlight the day's likely sightings: Grebes, Coots, Green Herons, and Bitterns, await you. Alligators and turtles, though not on your bird list, are still exciting to see!

Lunch: Lunch is a picnic, prepared by us from the delicious lunch buffet at breakfast. Did you make a sandwich out of whole-grain bread? Or choose trail mix, nuts, and fruit? Or both? Whatever you fixed, you'll enjoy it while we talk about what we've seen and what we hope to see.

Afternoon: Enjoy the beauty of the refuges as we bird from one place to another. Everyone's eager, but we're being polite and letting everyone take a look through our spotting scopes. Pinckney Island Wildlife Refuge is a former plantation made up of a wide variety of land types: salt marsh, forestland, brushland, fallow field and freshwater ponds. These habitats support a diversity of bird and plant life. On Pinckney, we have the opportunity to see waterfowl, shorebirds, wading birds, raptors, neo-tropical migrants, white-tailed deer, and alligators. The area is rich in white ibis, herons, and egrets. If you want help extra help with bird ID, just let our instructors know--they are always happy to help and share their knowledge!

Dinner: Back on site, showered, and relaxed, it's time to enjoy a leisurely lowcountry dinner. Will it be rosemary chicken and brown rice? Or long-simmered roast beef with salad? Or savory southern barbecue? Whatever the menu, you'll surely enjoy it!

Evening: After dinner, join us for one of our popular evening programs. We always try to offer you the opportunity to use your brain cells after supper--as well as relax, have some fun, and learn more about the lowcountry.

Birding at Bear Island Wildlife Management Area & More
Palm Key community of cottages
Palm Key community of cottages

Activity note: We'll take the van to more wonderful birding sites today--these complementary sites will give you a chance to hone your bird-identifying skills.

Breakfast: Start the morning out right with a delicious low country breakfast at 8:00 am. Is today the day you'll try grits? Or is fruit and toast more your style? Be sure to fill your plate: you'll need energy for today's outing! And don't forget, you'll want to pack your lunch before making your final preparations for the morning's birding extravaganza.

Morning: We're visiting some gems today: Bear Island is recognized as one of the best birding areas of the state. Besides a wide variety of year-round common and migratory species who are regularly here, Bear Island and Bennett’s Point have been known to host a number of rare birds: Roseate Spoonbill, Black Rail, American Avocet, Hudsonian Godwit, etc. Who knows what birds we might see?

Lunch: Today we enjoy a bag lunch--did you bring a boiled egg and craisins or a turkey and cheese sandwich? We hope you picked up a homemade cookie at the buffet this morning!

Afternoon: This afternoon is a continuation of the morning--birding by foot, by eye, by ear. Keep a snack out of your lunch to enjoy during the mid-afternoon--you'll be glad you did!

Dinner: At 6:00, we'll enjoy another lovely lowcountry meal--maybe fish tonight, with black-eyed pea salad! Swap stories about the day's adventures with your table-mates, and don't forget the dessert!

Evening: This evening, join us for a program on South Carolina's lowcountry and its history and culture. The LifeTides Institute is known for its engaging presenters and interesting programs. Whatever it is, you don't want to miss it.

Savannah NWR, Tupelo Trail and More!
Palm Key community of cottages
Palm Key community of cottages

Activity note: We've all been seeing some great birds--and today will be no exception! What new birds will make their way to our group list today?

Breakfast: As always, be sure to fuel up with a delicious lowcountry breakfast. Don't forget to prepare your bagged lunch for later!

Morning: Load up the van! It's time to head out to the Savannah NWR. We will stop at the visitor center for an orientation as well as drive the Tupelo Trail, stopping along the 4 mile loop to bird along the way. Listen up when the instructors review what birds we're keeping an eye out for today.

Lunch: We'll have a healthy picnic lunch on our outing. Was it turkey today? Or organic peanut butter? Soy nuts or craisins? There's something for everyone.

Afternoon: After lunch we'll continue our field trip at the Savannah NWR, exploring the Tupelo Trail and other access points at the Refuge.

Dinner: This evening, we'll meet for another lovely lowcountry meal--maybe shrimp and grits, or barbeque ribs and the fixings. You will have worked up an appetite today!

Evening: This evening, join us for a program on South Carolina's lowcountry and its history and culture. The LifeTides Institute is known for its engaging presenters and interesting programs.

Webb Wildlife Center & More
Palm Key community of cottages
Palm Key community of cottages

Activity note: Webb Wildlife Center is the home of the Red Cockaded Woodpecker, which nests in the Longleaf Pines there

Breakfast: What will it be this morning? Ham and eggs? Homemade bread? Or maybe a bowl of fruit? But don't be late: we have a busy day ahead! (Don't forget to pack your lunch.)

Morning: After breakfast we all load up in the van and travel to Webb Wildlife Center. Why would we want to go there? Well, Webb Wildlife Center contains longleaf pine forest, the preferred habitat of the Red Cockaded Woodpecker, a jewel in this program’s crown. This morning, Scholars will bird in hardwood forest, blackwater swamp, and the aforesaid longleaf pine forest.

Lunch: Once again, we'll picnic on our outing--what did you choose today? Whatever it is, it's sure to be healthy and delicious.

Afternoon: We continue the fun into the mid afternoon. This is a full and active day, but it's not over yet.

Dinner: Dinner begins early tonight with an old-timey Oyster Roast! Come join us at 5:00 as we steam fresh, local oysters over an open fire. Don't know how to open oysters? You can learn by doing--and eating. And then--it's time for another lowcountry dinner!

Evening: After dinner, you won’t want to miss the wrap-up party. This is our last evening, and we can’t let it go by without doing it up special. Everyone will find something to enjoy as we share highlights from the week over dessert (if you still have room). You don’t want to miss this--but to tell you more right now would be to spoil it! If you brought one with you, do bring your musical instrument to our gathering spot.

Program Concludes
Palm Key community of cottages

Activity note: Our final breakfast together--if you haven't tried grits yet, this is the day! Make plans to come back to see us. Please return your name tags and lanyards so that we can reuse them.

Breakfast: Breakfast at 8:00, and your last chance for grits! If you haven’t tried them yet, you just have to have some today. You’ll want to eat hardily, as today you will be packing up and leaving us for wherever your road takes you. (Please return your name tags and lanyards before you leave us.)

Morning: This morning, after telling parting stories, asking questions, issuing invitations, or listening to one more joke from you-know-who, it’s off to pack up and prepare for departure. We hope you’ll stay in the area and do some more exploring—and/or birding--ask the staff for recommendations and directions. We’d love to share more of South Carolina and the lowcountry with you!