The Francis Marion National Forest, Tibwin Plantation is ranked #16* on eBird with 223 species of birds recorded. The trails cover hardwood bottomlands, Pine forest, tidal marsh, freshwater ponds and managed wetlands.
It was a warm winter day with sun and clouds. I headed down the center trail which is framed with a healthy stand of tall pine trees. I was immediately graced with an array of calls and songs from a variety of songbirds. Carolina Wrens, Cardinals, Titmice, Woodpeckers and Pine Warblers filled the air with wonderful natural sounds. Listen below to the various notes of a Tufted Titmouse vocalizing above me on the trail.
I approached a wetland habitat with several active woodpecker species. A Red-bellied Woodpecker called with its familiar kwirrr call while foraging along a tree trunk. Two Pileated Woodpeckers were making loud cuk-cuk-cuk calls as they chased each other from tree to tree.
Continuing down the trail I heard more and more songbirds. The most prevalent singers along the forested portion of the trail were the Pine Warblers. These year-round residents have a yellow throat and breast, two white wingbars and a white belly. The Pine Warbler has multiple songs, the song I heard most on the trail was a fast pulse trill. (Listen below)
Listening to the songbirds I noticed a familiar song in the distance. I moved closer to find this strikingly patterned bird with a bright yellow throat. The Yellow-throated Warbler is another year-round resident of the Southeast that sings a sweet series of whistles. They are typically high in the tree canopy creeping along branches foraging for insects. (Listen below)
While focused on the songbirds a small raptor quickly maneuvered between the Pine trees then briefly perched on a high tree branch before continuing further into the forest and out of sight. This awesome stealthy predator was a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
I made it to a large impoundment where there is a large enclosed overlook. As I slowly entered the structure I could see ducks on the water and I did not want to flush them. I cautiously peeked through the enclosure to identify the ducks. I could see a large group of Gadwall, a dozen American Wigeon and a pair of Bufflehead. I also observed a Pied-billed Grebe, a Little Blue Heron and a Great Egret. Over the impoundment a flock of foraging Tree Swallows showed flashes of violet-green.
While I was hidden in the lookout structure I noticed a Marsh Wren had popped up in the reeds below. The wren was super close allowing me to see the fine patterns of brown, black and white feathers. These wrens are usually easy to hear and hard to see so it was very cool to enjoy such a close view.
I proceeded further down the trail which provided some bottomland hardwood habitat. I heard another wren species making a repeated check check call. The Winter Wren is a small dark brown winter resident that loves damp shaded habitats. Two of these neat little wrens were foraging on the edge of the trail.
I made it to the seasonal trail which is not open until March 1st, this trail covers the outer impoundments and overlooks the vast tidal marsh that connects to the Intracoastal Waterway. I headed back down the center trail concluding my trip to Tibwin. This special hotspot provided a peaceful morning filled with nature’s sounds and beauty. The walk covered 2.8 miles in 2 hours and 42 minutes. I identified 52 species of birds with a total of 240 individual birds. eBird checklist: https://ebird.org/checklist/S128965533
*This trip moved Tibwin Plantation up on the eBird Hotspot List to #15.
The Winter Wrens found and recorded on this trip were the first sighting of this bird species at this hotspot!