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Port Royal is for the birds

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By Molly Ingram

Photos by SK & Associates

Mother Nature, as she is wont to do, threw the 30 or so volunteers at this year’s 3rd Birthday for the Birds event, a serious little rain storm that started about 8 a.m. when we all arrived to set up, and stopped about 8:58 a.m. giving us all a whopping 2 minutes to get ready for the crowds that were slowly materializing out of the puddles. We are talking a serious downpour where you could hear people mutter over the deluge comments like, “Maybe we should wait to plug in the popcorn machine so we don’t accidentally electrocute someone…” Good idea.

But the sun came out and from then on, it was a lovely day for the 300 or so nature lovers to stroll around the rare Bald Cypress Wetlands with its ½ mile of walking trail. Here you could see many shore birds including Snowy Egrets with their yellow feet, Large White Egrets with their yellow bills, Great Blue Herons, Tri-Colored Herons, Cattle Egrets, White Ibis, and who knows what other ducks, cormorants, or visiting birds you just might come across. And should you have questions, there were Master Naturalists stationed around the walk to answer questions or to point out things you might have missed.

This wonderful idea of celebrating baby birds is the brain child of the Fripp Audubon Club in conjunction with the Town of Port Royal. Bill Richards, President of the Fripp Audubon Club said, “Watching our community come together to celebrate the birds and the nature at the Port Royal Wetlands was just wonderful. These Cypress Wetlands are a treasure and one of Beaufort County’s most unique natural resources.”

The Port Royal Elementary students produced delightful artwork that was displayed throughout the trail. And the children who came each received a scavenger hunt card that encouraged them to identify different types of birds, trees, lizards and even alligators should one be sunning himself as they walked the trail. Then as you sat and dried out at the head of the trail, you could enjoy music by Billy Drysdale.

Bridget Lussier, a professional biologist, reported that the water quality was terrific in the wetlands and that there had been no further drop-off in numbers of birds that found a home in the Cyprus Wetlands. All good news.

Now that the formal part of the ceremony was over, the children (and most of us adults) sang Happy Birthday to the new fledglings with the accompaniment of a Kazoo. If you have never heard a Kazoo rendition of Happy Birthday, don’t knock it. It is wonderful. Who knows what the birds thought of it, but there didn’t seem to be a mad dash for the exit by the Snowy Egrets.

And of course, what is a birthday party without a cake? Besides the popcorn, and hot dogs, everyone enjoyed some really delicious cake which made the celebration complete.

From listening to comments as families wandered off to their next scheduled event, I think that next year will bring many more families to celebrate this wonderful resource right in the heart of Port Royal. Many thanks to the sponsors of this great event: Applied Technology & Management, Beaufort County, Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce, Drysdale Entertainment, Coastal Kingdom, Eat Sleep Play Beaufort, Friends of the Spanish Moss Trail, Fripp Audubon Club, Fripp Island Golf & Beach Resort, Hilton Head Island Audubon Society, Historic Port Royal Foundation, The Island News, Lowcountry Bicycles, Lowcountry Master Naturalists, Murr Printing, Old Village Association, Port Royal Sound Foundation, Sun City Hilton Head Bird Club, Town of Port Royal, YMCA.

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