Quick Trip to Donnelley and Beidler

Alligator B&W
Alligator at Donnelley Wildlife Management Area

I did it. I pulled the trigger on a new super zoom telephoto lens for my camera. I have a very old Celestron C90 telescope that I can use with my camera and a T-Mount. The magnification is amazing, but it’s almost impossible to focus properly, and I have to put my camera in full manual mode. That makes it difficult to use for wildlife photography.

Nikon D50 attached to Celestron C-90

About this time last year I had rented a Tamron 200-500mm lens and we made a rainy trek down to the ACE Basin and Beidler Forest. Even though it rained most of our trip, I got some great shots that weekend, and enjoyed using the longer lens. I started saving my pennies so that I could get one.

I didn’t get the Tamron, but found a Sigma 150-500 that I liked that also had image stabilization. It arrived last week.

New lens - Sigma 150-500mm

Since it was the start of Laura’s spring break, we decided it was time for another Lowcountry birding trek to get the new lens a trial run. We repeated our trip almost exactly except without the rain, visiting the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area in the ACE Basin on Monday and the Francis Beidler Forest on Tuesday. Continue reading “Quick Trip to Donnelley and Beidler”

Edisto River – The Jacksonboro Passage

Edisto River 11

This trip was supposed to have been last week. The second Saturday of the month is when our Lowcountry Unfiltered group normally hits the trail. However, an event last weekend involving most of our group caused us to postpone the trip. That freed me up to participate in the Tame the Tyger Race last weekend.

So, this weekend rolled around, and our group headed down to the Edisto River. This time we were headed to a new stretch that ended just shy of the ACE Basin. We were going to do a thirteen mile stretch from Martin’s Landing to West Bank Landing through the historic district of Jacksonboro.

I loaded up the boat and gear Thursday night and headed down as far as St. George after work Friday. The weather wasn’t looking promising, but I decided to take the chance. When I got up Saturday to head down to the river a thick fog covered the area. However, it looked like it was going to burn off later. Driving through this historic area I wanted to just stop and photograph everything, but knew I’d need to get on down to our rendezvous at the take-out. I drove on through Jacksonboro, and turned at the old Wesley United Methodist Church onto Hope Plantation Lane.

Wesley United Methodist ChurchHope Plantation Lane Continue reading “Edisto River – The Jacksonboro Passage”

Old Dorchester and ACE Basin

Old Dorchester-037

I’ve been able to take off on a few excursions over the last couple of months, but Laura really hasn’t had a chance to get away. With her mom in Florida, and since we had at least one day in common for this spring break, we decided to escape down to the Charleston area. However, we weren’t interested in the city itself, but the outlying areas to do a bit of bird watching. Our goal for the first day was the ACE Basin, and Beidler Forest for the second day.

Driving no the interstate was pure madness. It seems that everyone was out for a weekend away. We decided to get off of the interstate and explore some of the side roads. Laura’s comment was that “South Carolina is much prettier once you get off the interstate.”

We drove into Orangeburg, then headed south. On Highway 61 we saw a sign for the community of Sixty-Six. I’d never heard of it before, so we decided to check it out. It was an old railroad community that didn’t turn out to be much. I may have to do some further research. We did drive through Branchville, which has “the oldest railroad junction in the world.” Laura wasn’t sure about that claim, though, so I filled her in on the history of “The Best Friend” of Charleston, one of the first railroads in the US. Continue reading “Old Dorchester and ACE Basin”

The Curse of Boynton House

The Curse of Boynton House

Boynton House sits abandoned and forlorn in a remote corner of the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, part of the ACE Basin. It was once the main house for a vast rice plantation. Now the wooden filigree is falling apart, and bat guano fills several of the rooms. On this particular trip, we also found out that it is cursed.

Normally we do a paddling trip the second Saturday of each month with the Lowcountry Unfiltered group. This time we decided to do something different. One of our members, Rob Dewig, has a new job with the Colleton County Museum. We wanted to check out his new digs. We also planned to do a bit of bike riding in the ACE Basin.

I got up far too early on Saturday morning and drove on down to the Lowcountry. Five other hearty souls joined me at the main kiosk for Donelley. It sounded like a disciples convention – Thomas (me), Matthew, James, John, James, and a young guy whose name starts out C-h-r-i-s-t. (Christian, Jimmy’s son). Yeah, we were in for trouble of Biblical proportions. Continue reading “The Curse of Boynton House”

ACE Basin

Donelley House

Our visit to Beidler Forest only took up half of the day, and we were ready to see more wildlife. Therefore, we cut across the country down toward the ACE Basin and the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area. Donnelley is only one small section of the ACE Basin. To the east is the Ernest Hollings National Wildlife Refuge. However, we prefer Donnelly because it’s a bit easier access, and it tends to be a bit quieter.

We entered from Bennett’s Point Road and immediately got turned around. We were taking a different direction, but eventually wound up where we wanted – at the old farm house that serves as a landmark for the rice field hiking trails.

Continue reading “ACE Basin”