Monday, December 8, 2008

Sapelo Island and shorebirds

What are those shorebirds eating? With this and a lot of other questions floating around in my head I joined Marge Inness, and John Galvani Saturday to go to Sapelo Island. We were taking part in shorebird workshop. There were educators from all over the state of Georgia to learn about our coast. We were invited to help them with the identification of the shorebirds. But for me I was going to dig in the sand see what these shorebirds were eating. The ferry dock on Sapelo

Sapelo Island is rich in history. The stories of the people who have lived out here is full of tragedy and success. The only way out to the island is by boat. There is a small community on the island, Hog Hammock. Here is what the Sherpa Guides to Georgia website by Richard Lenz says about Hog Hammock, “The Gullah village, with its unique cultural, artistic, and linguistic traditions, is without a doubt the most unusual community in Georgia. Old timers speak geechee, a colorful creole that blends English with a number of African languages, primarily from the western coast.” This village was created by R.J Reynolds who owner most of Sapelo at the time.
The Reynold's Mansion today

After his death the rest of Reynolds’ holding were sold to the University of Georgia’s Marine Institute and the Sapelo Island National Estuarine Research Reserve. To learn more about Sapelo here the link:
We caught up with the teachers and Brooke Vallaster our workshop leader at the Reynolds Mansion. What a place!
We took a peek inside at the mural painted by Athos Menaboni.
Once we all gather it is off to the beach for shorebirds.
We were in luck there were Willets, Red Knots and Dunlins right at the entrance of the beach. The birds were concentrating in the runnels on the beach so we started there. Armed in kitchen strainers and jars, we scooped up coquina clams and Zooplankton. We took these with us back to the lab. On the way to the lab we stop by the community dock to take a dock sample of what kind of creatures might be there. It is some much fun to be with folks who are eager to learn. We were laughing and looking thru microscopes at a tiny world that sustains us and those amazing shorebirds.
Coquina clams beach sample and small shrimp from the dock sample

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