Every month our Coastal GEMs receive a Photo of the Month in their inboxes. We hope you enjoy these photos that capture this incredible place we call home and what we work to protect.
During a recent staff outing to Brays Island, we spotted patches of our state flower, the vibrant Carolina Jessamine, or Yellow Jasmine. This bright flower, indigenous to every part of South Carolina, was adopted by the General Assembly as the official state flower back in 1924. You may find the small, yellow, tubular, sun-loving clusters blooming in late winter/early spring (a great indicator that warmer weather is near!) climbing up trees and fences with it’s evergreen vine.
*Although beautiful and fragrant, this Carolina Jessamine is poisonous if ingested and can even cause allergic reactions if touched!
I’m not very good at making flower jokes.
But thistle do.
During my recent trip to the Upstate, Greenville Bill (the long-lost relative of Punxsutawney Phil) scurried out of the bushes on the banks of the Saluda River to say hi. I don’t know if he saw his shadow, but he did see me and quickly retreated back into his burrow.
Does anyone know a good groundhog joke?
(I keep hearing the same one over and over again)
We are starting January off with a colorful representation of the Lowcountry. I spotted this vibrant Tricolored Heron wading in the quiet, shallow water at the Caw Caw Interpretative Center–likely searching for some little fish.
Thanks for joining the fight to help protect our critters and natural landscapes–we couldn’t do it without you.
Why did the heron always navigate through the river carefully?
(It wanted to ‘heron’ the side of caution)
The sky was especially illuminating this past Friday night during an adventure with Coastal Expeditions to Bulls Island at Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. After watching the sunset on Boneyard Beach, the dark quickly rolled in and showcased a cloudless night sky crowded with millions of stars untouched by light pollution. When I looked straight up, the Milky Way galaxy was clear in sight. I snapped this photo as I stared at a shining Jupiter – but nothing can compare to seeing it in person.
How many shooting stars can you spot?
Why couldn’t the star stay focused?
(They kept spacing out)
The fall equinox has passed, and the weather is cooling down – I hope you are enjoying this time of year in nature as much as I am!
This month, we are happy to share two photo submissions, courtesy of Coastal GEM Jane Yousey, and Coastal Stewardship & Engagement Manager Rachel Hawes.
One photo was taken in Botany Bay Heritage Preserve and the other was captured near Penny’s Creek on Johns Island, can you guess which is which?
Why is it so easy to trick a leaf in October?
(They fall for anything!)
During a recent afternoon walk at Caw Caw Interpretive Center, I captured this observant Osprey high above me on a nesting structure. We stared at each other for a moment before I walked along.
Besides winning staring contests, Ospreys also excel at fishing. Did you know they even have a unique reversible outer toe which allows them to better grasp their prey?
In the 1950s and 1960s, populations severely declined in North America due to pesticide poisoning. Now, Ospreys are protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty Act and are abundant in many areas.
What do you call an Osprey who can play the piano?
(A talon-ted musician!)
During a recent visit to the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve, our Marketing and Events Coordinator, Darienne Jordan, snapped this photo of carnivorous pitcher plants, which use their tubular leaves to lure, trap, and digest insect prey. Lewis Ocean Bay is an oasis for native flora and beautiful landscapes–it’s home to endangered plants (like Venus flytraps and pitcher plants), forests of longleaf pines, and a unique assemblage of Carolina Bays.
Why do Sarracenia play major league baseball?
(Cause they’re pitcher plants!)
On a recent hot summer’s day, I captured this puffy dandelion blowing softly in the wind during a walk at the ACE Basin National Wildlife Refuge. We’ve all seen these yellow flowers that bloom nearly year-round in the Lowcountry, whether in a backyard, field, or even a crack in the sidewalk. You may remember blowing on a dandelion as a kid, making a wish and hoping it would one day come true!
Did you know that dandelions are entirely edible and have been used for their medicinal properties for thousands of years?
What did the flower say when it wanted a second chance?
(I’ll grow on you)
Is there anything more aesthetically pleasing than a perfectly round, red cherry tomato? It’s tomato season and this beauty came straight from my backyard pickings. I may be biased, but bounty from my own garden always tastes better! Be sure to follow along with GrowFood Carolina to receive updates and learn how to support our local farmers. And click here to sign up for updates about food boxes filled with in-season produce available for purchase!
Why did the tomato blush?
(Because he saw the salad dressing)
During a visit to Northbridge Park last weekend, I was looking for shark teeth and instead got distracted by the plethora of Marsh Periwinkle snails. I captured the one above delicately hanging on to a sliver of marsh grass illuminated by the early morning sun. Throughout the day, they move up and down the stalks of the grass–down during low tide to feed on prey and up during high tide to escape underwater predators.
What happens when two snails get into a fight?
(They slug it out)
This month, I challenge you to a game of I-Spy. I spy an Eastern Meadowlark perched somewhere in the vibrant colors surrounding Fort Moultrie–can you spot it? Afraid to get any closer and scare it off, I snapped this shot from afar during a morning walk at the monument last weekend.
How can you tell the weather is getting warmer?
(There’s a spring in people’s step)
During a stroll through Charles Towne Landing this past weekend, I was reminded about my favorite time of the year in Charleston. Spring brings forth the warm sun (providing some much needed Vitamin D), greener landscapes, and blooming azaleas bursting with color–which I had to stop and take a picture of. I may be sneezing a bit more this month, but it’s worth it!
What did the flower tell the other flower after she told a joke?
(I was just pollen your leg!)
As I walked through the cypress swamp at Caw Caw Interpretive Center, I snapped this photo of cypress knees shooting up from the marsh, growing from the tree’s roots. The swamp-thriving baldcypress tree often dispays these budding structures, which are thought to help the roots get oxygen and anchor the tree in muddy soil.
If you look closely, you may see what I see–the shape of a family of three huddled together formed out of the rising cypress knee in the center of the shot.
Why was the tree stumped in math class?
(It couldn’t get to the root of the problem)
I snapped this image of a vibrant lemon tree spotted at Hampton Park on a rainy morning before the temperatures dropped throughout the region. Looking into the new year, be sure to follow along with GrowFood Carolina to get the best in-season, farm-fresh, and delicious produce. Click here to sign up for updates about food boxes from our local farmers for purchase!
What do you give a sick lemon?
This month, we are excited to share our first submitted photograph–a perfectly perched young Black Crowned Night Heron at Charles Towne Landing, courtesy of Jane Yousey.
These Muscovy Ducks in a row were sitting pretty at Hampton Park during a nature walk with Conservation League’s Senior Project Manager and Master Naturalist Betsy La Force last month. You’ll see them trotting around in the park, but these domesticated ducks are actually not native to South Carolina.
What time do ducks get up in the morning?
(At the quack of dawn)
These vibrant swallowtail butterflies took a quick pause from fluttering around just long enough for me to snap this photo at the Lewis Ocean Bay Heritage Preserve.
Why couldn’t the caterpillar get into the butterfly garden?
(Because it didn’t have enough change)
While peering through the tree trunks and clusters of drooping Spanish moss at the historic Magnolia Cemetery a couple of weeks back, I captured an anhinga peacefully perched on a low-hanging branch.
Watching in awe on a boat a safe distance away, I snapped this quick photo of a Royal Tern gliding off the coast of Crab Bank bird sanctuary. For the first time since 2017, this restored island is thriving with nesting birds from oystercatchers to black skimmers and more, making for a beautiful and busy sight!
A Yellow-billed Kite soars through the trees and over heads during my recent visit at the Center for Birds of Prey in Awendaw, while seemingly striking a pose for my camera. The second largest kite species in the world and a native to Sub-Saharan Africa, this bird of prey snatches food mid-flight and enjoys its meal in the air.
What type of bird works at a building site?
Illuminating sun rays peek through a shaded canopy of live oaks at the Santee Coastal Reserve, showcasing a vibrant green undergrowth.
Do you want a brief explanation of what an acorn is?
(In a nutshell, it’s an oak tree)
With brown and yellow skin and attitude filled eyes, this agile anole lizard spotted at the Caw Caw Interpretive Center sat still for a quick second, allowing this photo to be captured.
What do lizards put on their kitchen floors?
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