While there are plenty of attractions and activities in Bulloch County, one of the great things about living here are that there are many more that can make for an easy, leisurely day trip.
And for anyone interested in nature and wildlife, one of those destinations is little more than an hour away, east on I-16, then south on I-95. I've made that trip several times this past winter and this spring, lugging my camera equipment along, hoping for a few photo opportunities.
And I haven't been disappointed.
Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, one of seven components of the Savannah Coastal Refuges Complex, is a beautiful and peaceful plot of protected natural habitat that features ponds and islands that are home to many different species of animals, fauna and flora.
Made up of six man-made freshwater ponds and salt marsh, the forested wetlands provide a diverse and important resource for many species of migratory birds. According to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, 342 species of birds have been spotted on the refuge, while 83 species breed there.
Roseate spoonbills, several species of herons, ibis, egrets and many different species of ducks are regulars at the refuge. Wood storks, the only storks that breed in the United States, can be found in abundance in the rookeries on the islands and near the shores of the ponds. Anhingas can often be seen perched on protruding stumps in the ponds, their wings spread wide as they dry their feathers after a dive for a meal.
American alligators also make a home there, often sunning on logs in the ponds or even on the dikes that are part of the walking trails. Turtles, such as pond sliders, also take advantage of sunny days by sitting atop stumps and partially submerged branches, stretching their heads toward the warmth offered by the sunshine.
Of course, there are also songbirds and butterflies flitting among the maritime forest, as well as many other smaller creatures that call the refuge home.
So, if you enjoy the outdoors and feel the need for a quick getaway, Harris Neck is just down the road. Just be sure to wear your walking shoes and take your camera.
You won't be disappointed, either.