South Carolinas piedmont region has excellent sites for bird watching. The regions lakes and woodlands provide habitat for a wide variety of birds. In the spring and fall months many species of migrating birds also make the South Carolina piedmont their temporary home. Here are some of the regions best bird watching sites.
An excellent place to start is the Enoree Waterfowl Management Area and surrounding parts of the Sumter National Forest, near the town of Newberry. Bird watchers will find a variety of waterfowl and wetland birds during the months of February and March. Birds to observe in the area include Canada geese, wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, great blue herons, egrets, and belted kingfishers. During the spring and fall it is common to see many migrating birds including ospreys, spotted sandpipers, and several varieties of warblers.
Another birding site near Newberry is Lynchs Woods Park. This area of mature hardwood forest adjacent to Cannon Creek is home to many migrating birds in the spring and fall. Other birds that may be observed there include red-headed woodpeckers, barred owls, warblers, tanagers, and American goldfinches. Lynchs Woods Park is located on Hwy 76 just east of Newberry.
Birders may want to visit Lake Greenwood State Recreation Area near Greenwood, South Carolina. The mixed pine and hardwood forests along the lake are good places to observe waterfowl such as ducks, egrets, ospreys, and gulls. It is also common to see pine warblers, woodpeckers, eastern bluebirds, and brown-headed nuthatch. Another excellent birding site is nearby Ninety Six National Historic Site. The mix of forest, meadow, and lake habitats provide homes to a variety of birds. Many ducks are seen in the winter and there are large numbers of warblers in the fall.
The parks and recreation areas around Lake Murray offer many places for bird watching. Dreher Island State Recreation Area and Lake Murray Dam Park are two popular birding sites. In the winter months it is common to see grebes, loons, gulls, and ducks. In the spring and fall there are many migrating warblers. During the spring and summer months cliff swallows breed under the nearby bridges. A large number of purple martins, members of the swallow family, spend the summer months around Lake Murray. Nearly one million of them arrive in June and stay into September, before flying to South America for the winter. The birds roost on Doolittle Island (or Lunch Island), which has been designated an official purple martin sanctuary. The birds are a welcome sight to area residents because they eat insects and help control the mosquito population. Excursion boats out of Ballentine and Irmo take visitors out onto the lake in the late afternoons to watch the purple martins roost in the evenings.
Additional sources of information on birding in the South Carolina piedmont include the Carolina Bird Club and the South Carolina Audubon Society. Both offer birding field trips and related events throughout the year.