It was a magnificent afternoon on Jan. 19 when I returned home and my husband Dennis said, “Come on, grab your camera equipment, I have a new place for us to go. It is a surprise.”
We drove down Hwy. 170 toward Beaufort to Widgeon Point Preserve, located on Lemon Island. It is the last right turn before the Broad River Bridge. You must slow down as soon as you see the bridge; if not, you will miss the turn.
The park opened Jan. 15. The Preserve is co-owned by Beaufort County and the Beaufort County Open Land Trust.
Since we moved here six years ago, we have driven by this spot many times and I have always told Dennis I would love to stop and discover this place, but the gates were always closed.
Upon our arrival to the parking lot, I knew this was going to become a place that I will visit often.
As soon as I got out of the car, I heard a crying noise from a bird. I looked and looked and finally, to my surprise, I looked up and there was a huge nest. I screamed at Dennis, “Do you hear? Do you see the nest?”
I was jumping up and down from my excitement. There were a couple of people there and they were looking me like I have lost my mind. I shared my findings with them. and they were as amazed as I was.
My thoughts were racing and I wanted to know: Is it an eagle’s nest? Is it an osprey nest? How many chicks are in the nest? How long ago did they hatch?
Dennis looked at me and smiled and said, “Come on, let’s discover the rest of the place. The nest will be here when we return.” But deep down, I didn’t want to leave. The birds’ cry for food and their parents was music to my ears. I could visualize the amazing photos I will be able to take and document their life.
We had just begun walking when we started to see other people from our community – we said hello while maintaining social distancing, but continued walking on to discover this magical place.
The Preserve is described on its website as “170 acres of forested habitats, salt marsh, and hummock islands on the Broad River in Port Royal Sound.” Some of its amenities include a picnic pavilion, a bird blind, restrooms and a rustic barn for event rental. A nature trail loops around the island alongside the river.
By the time we returned to the parking lot, we had the answer to my questions. It was an eagle’s nest.
When I went back several days later, I documented that there are two eaglets. In the next three weeks, the the parents stayed busy taking care of them while photographers enjoyed the show.
Sophia Schade is a nature photographer and resident of Sun City. Born in Athens, Greece, she loves the Lowcountry and is on a constant journey of discovering a world flooded with beauty.