Wildlife Viewing Guide

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Wildlife Viewing > Colonial Coast > Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge

Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge

Description: Blackbeard Island is a true barrier island, separated from neighboring Sapelo Island by Blackbeard Creek and an expanse of salt marsh. Geologically, the island is made up of a series of parallel dunes, each of which was once the Atlantic shoreline of a younger island. The 5,618-acre refuge includes a 3,000-acre National Wilderness composed of salt marsh and pine forest on the south end of the island. The north end of Blackbeard is thickly vegetated with palmettos beneath a canopy of live oaks and other hardwoods. Two freshwater impoundments on the north end concentrate ducks in the winter months and wading birds, including the federally endangered wood stork, in the summer. These ponds are populated year-round by great numbers of American alligators.

Viewing Information: Blackbeard Island is open to the public daily during daylight hours. Most visitation occurs along the island's 7 miles of beach. The beach is always alluring, having a wide variety of beach and marine wildlife throughout the year. During winter months, bald eagles and peregrine falcons are often seen from the beach. In the summer, flocks of black skimmers, terns, and brown pelicans congregate along the beach front. A network of roads and trails throughout the interior of the island provides hikers with scenic paths ideal for nature study. Warblers and other songbirds abound in the woodlands. The colorful painted bunting is a regularly-seen summer resident.

Directions: Blackbeard Island NWR is accessible only by boat. Arrangements for trips to the refuge can be made in the town of Shellman's Bluff. From Savannah, travel south on US Hwy. 17 for apx. 51 miles to Shellman's Bluff on the Julienton River. A public boat ramp on Harris Neck NWR (Barbour River Landing) may also be used as a launching site for trips to the island.

Management: U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Savannah Coastal Refuges, 912-652-4415

Closest Town: Darien, GA

Additional Information: Contact the refuge office in Savannah to obtain dates for hunts during which the refuge would be closed. Refuge maps, bird checklists, and brochures are available from the Savannah Coastal Refuges office: Dock is for loading and unloading only. Parkway Business Center, Suite 10, 1000 Business Center Drive, Savannah, GA 31405.

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