Strangers in a Strange Land

So there is more to holidays than food. We also had hikes to take, birds to watch, shells to collect.

As I mentioned before, we had rented a house on Edisto Island, near the town of Edisto Beach. The back of the house faced on to a tidal creek and salt marsh.

The dock on the tidal creek behind the house.
The dock on the tidal creek behind the house.

In the front, we had a vista of palmettos and dwarf palmettos, a dirt road, more salt marsh, the beach, and the Atlantic ocean.


It was a very unfamiliar landscape, and waterscape (though spellcheck indicates this is not a word), for us Midwesterners. We had heard that this was a great area for bird watching, and we were not disappointed, though our time for bird photography was rather limited due to Short Ones restlessness.  (I should explain here that the title Short Ones is ironic. Short One the Elder is about 6′ 1″, Short One the Younger is 6′ 3″. I am 5′ 11″. So we spend a good deal of time accusing each other of being short. One of our favorite songs is Randy Newman’s Short People.)

We were especially interested in all the aquatic  birds that we had never seen before. We saw plenty of Great Egrets, just as Les at A Tidewater Gardener had assured us that we would.


We also saw Great Blue Herons.

Great Blue Heron

It was fun watching the Brown Pelicans diving for fish.

Brown Pelicans

Then there were the Sanderlings, little shorebirds that were very comical to watch. Over and over, they would chase the surf as it receded, then run away as it flowed back again, each time with a kind of manic energy, as if in a panic. There were many ibis, with their odd curved beaks, but we couldn’t get a good picture.


We were most excited to see a Kingfisher, a handsome fellow that we had not expected to come across. Sadly, we did not get a picture, so I’m cheating by borrowing one from


In addition to the marshes and the beach, a great place to look for birds was the live oak behind our house, a very popular tree for winged creatures. We saw Northern Cardinals, many woodpeckers, and other birds I couldn’t identify.

Live Oak

We also went hiking at Edisto Beach State Park, which includes forests of live oak dripping with spanish moss. These don’t look like any woods back home.

Live Oaks, Edisto Beach State Park

Of course, we spent lots of time at the beach, though it was colder than normal and not exactly beach weather. Sadly, houses have been built all along the edge of the beach in town, which bodes ill for the future of both the beach and the houses. We spent most of our time walking at the beach closer to our rented house, which was about a mile away. There were no houses or other man-made structures, and often we were the only ones there.

Edisto Beach
The Short Ones and I walking on the beach. I am furthest left.

This area is one of the best in the world for collecting sea shells, and we especially liked the whelks and sand dollars. A couple of times Judy and Short One the Elder picked up whelk shells that were still inhabited, and these quickly though briefly became flying whelks.

Edisto Beach
Sea shells by the sea shore.
Whelk shell, still occupied.

In addition to all of the above, we had a good deal of time for sitting on the dock and watching the sunset. Next post: Savannah and Charleston.

Edisto Beach sunset

30 Comments on “Strangers in a Strange Land”

  1. I love this post! Now I have a serious case of holiday envy! In my other spare time I am a bit of a bird watcher and when I first saw your kingfisher I was like NOOOO WAAAAAY, then I saw that you had borrowed the photo – which is cool and I am still totally impressed you saw one. We don’t have the black & white fellas over here. Closest we got to those was in India and I *think* (like to think) I saw one. Your vacation sounds and looks fab. Looking forward to the next installment 🙂
    p.s. the short ones don’t look that short 😉

  2. Ah I felt like I just took a little vacation while reading this post. Some of my youth was spent on Carolina beaches and it’s nice to know they still exist in an unspoiled nature. Surprisingly, a coast away, Great Blue Herons and Kingfishers are at home too, in the Pacific Northwest (and numerous), though always a treat to see them. Sounds like your vacation was well spent. Can’t wait to read about your impression of Charleston, one of my favorite cities in the U.S.

  3. You really saw a lot of different birds! I like to vacation where the landscape is different than what I usually see. So much in this world to experience. I appreciate you sharing your photos. This is a type of beach that I have not been to before.

  4. So many birds to see, sounds like a divine vacation to me. Although I don’t spend much time bird watching these days it used to be one of my favourite past times. You reminded me of a time when I was much younger, picking shells on the beach I put one in my pocket. later on, pulling it out it looked like there was some dirt inside. Turns out it was a hermit crab. Scared the living daylights out of me, probably no better for him either.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: