Sapelo Island Travel Guide

  • Sapelo Island
    by swfeken
  • Sapelo Island
    by swfeken
  • Sapelo Island
    by swfeken

Sapelo Island Things to Do

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    by no1birdlady Written Jan 26, 2006

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    Birding in the winter is excellent on this island. On the beaches we see Gr. Black-backed Gulls, Gannets diving, Black, Surf and White-winged Scoters out in the ocean as well as Scaup, Buffleheads and Red-br. Mergansers. There are also Royal, Caspian and Foster's Terns in the winter and thousands of shorebirds including Marbled Godwits, Oystercatchers and Piping Plovers. In the Maritime forests there are huge Live Oaks festooned with Spanish Moss that hold flocks of little birds including the Blue-headed Vireo, Yellow-throated Warblers, Brown-headed Nuthatch, and many others. The marshes hold Sedge and Marsh Wrens, Clapper Rails, White Ibis and Wood Storks. Grassy areas such as the pasture and airport hold Henslow's Sparrows who winter here. It's not unusual to see close to 100 species of birds in a day. Our Christmas Bird Count this year totaled 116 species.
    I have not birded on the island in other seasons so I cannot advise about that.

    A Snowy Egret displays his golden feet. Part of our group on the ferry.
    Related to:
    • Birdwatching
    • Eco-Tourism

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    by no1birdlady Written Jan 26, 2006

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    When we were here, the sunrises and sunsets were breathtaking from the south end of the island. You have to get up early to see it, but when you are doing a Christmas Bird Count on the island, you are up early anyway looking for and listening for owls.

    Sunset from south end of Sapelo Island
    Related to:
    • Photography
    • Eco-Tourism
    • Birdwatching

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    by no1birdlady Written Jan 26, 2006

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    When we come to the island to do the Christmas Bird Count, we stay in the apartments where student stay at the University of Georgia's Marine Institure. We pay a fee for staying there but must bring our own food for the time there. There is a kitchen where you may prepare your food. You also bring your own towels but linens for the bunk beds are provided. It is rather spartan accomodations used by the students when they come here to do marine studies. They are on vacation during Christmas when we are here. The Marine Institute is located on the southern end of the island.

    Apartments  at the Marine Institute
    Related to:
    • Birdwatching

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Sapelo Island Transportation

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    by no1birdlady Written Jan 26, 2006

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    One of the biggest obstacles to really seeing Sapelo Island is the lack of transportation here. When we do the Christmas Bird Count here, we are allowed to use trucks and mules owned by the University of Ga. Marine Institute. Many of these are in questionable shape but recently they have acquired a nice mule which is good for going on the beach. The roads are mostly dirt or sand. In 2005 several of the roads were closed because of trees that had fallen across them or the water filled potholes were so deep, they were impassible. The road up to Cabretta beach was closed so we had to get there another way. That other road had about 20 huge potholes in a 3 mile stretch which made navigating it a real challenge. Cemetary Road was washed out when the culvert fell in creating a gap about a car length wide.
    I understand that there are a few residents of Hog Hammock, the small settlement here, who will rent a car but be aware that all of the cars I've seen on the island are old. It costs a lot to get a vehicle to the island and the salt air and water leads to lots of rust so there's not that much incentive to have nice new vehicles on the island.
    We do a lot of walking while on the island but it's a large island so it would be hard to see all of it just by walking.
    When you come to the island for a tour, they have a bus that takes you around the island.

    New University of Ga. Marine Institute mule Another view of the mule on the beach.
    Related to:
    • Birdwatching
    • Eco-Tourism

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Sapelo Island Off The Beaten Path

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    by no1birdlady Written Jan 26, 2006

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    Christmas Bird Counts (CBC) began in 1900 with just a few counts. Today there are thousands of them not only in N. Am. but all over the world. A person who decides they want to run a CBC, sets up a 15 mile diameter circle. Then he recruits people to help count the birds. These must be good birders who are able to identify birds although a lesser experienced person might go with an experienced one as they are learning. Teams are organized who try to count all of the birds inside that circle. On Sapelo Is. we usually have 6-7 teams of 2 persons per team, who go out and count the birds within a specifically assigned area. We count individual birds and tally them as to which species they are. In some cases there are thousands of a species such as Scaup who winter on the ocean or Dunlin, a small brown shorebird who winters on the Ga. coast in large numbers. In other cases there are only a few such as 2 Marbled Godwits. The count is run on one day and covers all birds seen or heard during the 24 hour count period. A compiler who runs the count selects a date between Dec. 14th and Jan. 3rd. This year we saw 116 species of birds on the Sapelo count. Once the compiler puts in the numbers, results are displayed on the Christmas Bird Count website for that year as well as previous years.

    Anne and Calvin birding in the dunes.
    Related to:
    • Birdwatching

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