Highlights: Sensational view of the Savannah River; brush and field birds edge and grassland birds; cultural history.
Length: 3 Miles
e-Bird: Silver Bluff Audubon - Quail Trail
The first quarter-mile of this walk features regenerating pine and brush habitat that is good for Prairie Warbler, Indigo Bunting, and Blue Grosbeak in Spring and Summer. House Wren (Winter), and Eastern Towhee and White-eyed Vireo (year-round) are found here. This trail is excellent for Yellow-breasted Chat in spring and summer--it’s not unusual to encounter several. The pine plantations forests are good year-round for Brown-headed Nuthatch. In spring and summer, listen for Northern Bobwhite--you might get a look at a male calling from a low perch in the pines.
Approximately half a mile along the trail you will encounter a 100-acre field managed for grassland birds. Song, Swamp, Savannah, White-throated, Field, Vesper, Grasshopper, LeConte’s, and Henslow’s Sparrows all have been observed here; Chipping and Fox Sparrow can be found in the brushy edges. Common Yellowthroat are residents, and this is a reliable spot for Palm Warbler except in summer. Eastern Bluebird is common, due to a well-maintained nest box trail. Scan the tops of saplings in the field for Loggerhead Shrike, Eastern Meadowlark, American Kestrel, and Blue Grosbeak. Northern Harrier can be seen gliding low over the fields in winter. In later winter, American Woodcock may be heard calling soon after dusk.
The bluff overlooking the Savannah River provides a scenic view, worth checking out. Spotted Sandpiper can be seen along both shores and Red-shouldered Hawk may be visible. In Summer, watch for Mississippi Kite. Rough-winged Swallow often nest in the bank. The mature pines along the bluff are reliable for Red-Headed Woodpecker and Yellow-throated Warbler. Look and listen for Painted Bunting in the trees and scrub between here and the Galphin archaeology dig, next along the trail.
Continue along the trail for a quarter mile and you’ll be on the shore of the Savannah River, surrounded by tall bottomland hardwoods. The springtime early-morning warbler song here is impressive. Swainson’s, Hooded and Prothonotary Warbler can be heard here in spring and summer. In winter, scan the sweet gum and sycamore balls for American Goldfinch and Purple Finch, as well as flocks of Cedar Waxwing. There can sometimes be large numbers of American Robin here. Listen for Wood Duck in the sloughs along the river.
The trail back to the Campus is an easy walk on a dirt road. In winter, watch for Ruby and Golden-crowned Kinglets. Wild Turkey may be seen on any of the SBAS trails.