Suggested Spring (mid-April to mid-June) walking tour of Dungannon Heritage Preserve
Nesting Wood Storks, Anhingas and Egrets.
Breeding Prothonotary Warblers, Kentucky Warblers, Hooded Warblers, Yellow-throated Vireos, Acadian Flycatchers, Wood Thrushes, Barred Owls and Summer Tanagers.
Migrating Warblers, Vireos, Tanagers and Thrushes.
This walking tour begins at the Dungannon Heritage Preserve parking area. To reach Dungannon, take US Highway 17 south from Charleston. 15 minutes south of the city limits (just after Rantowles Creek), bear left on highway 162 toward Hollywood, SC. Proceed roughly 5.5 miles and you will see a butcher shop named "Marvin's Meats" on the right. After a half mile, begin looking for a split rail wooden fence on the right. This fence encloses the Dungannon parking area.
There is a mailbox beside the gate across the entrance road to Dungannon. Look inside for a sign-in sheet, as well as some brochures with a map of the preserve. We have included an image from the map below, with added arrows indicating suggested birding routes.
Follow the tan arrows on the map image on the outbound leg of your journey and follow the purple arrows for the return section. This will take you through some nice habitat and it will pass the Wood Stork / Anhinga Rookery. A short route is denoted by light blue arrows - this route has some nice cypress swamp / bottomland habitat. A nice 2/3 day trip is to walk the long loop, return to your vehicle for a picnic lunch and walk the short loop for an hour or two after lunch.
Suggested Loop Tour:
Walk in the gate from the parking area. The pine woods on the left host SUMMER TANAGERS in the breeding season, as well as EASTERN WOOD-PEWEES. Continue on the road and soon you will come to a fork in the road, with a trailhead beginning near the fork. Follow the trail. ** Note: This area and most other open woodlands in Dungannon (with good leaf-litter on the ground) are excellent for CHUCK-WILL's WIDOWS around dusk. ** 50 yards down the trail, be alert for WOOD THRUSHES singing and flitting about. Soon you will come to the edge of a small bluff, with a nice swamp on the left. This swampy area is good for ACADIAN FLYCATCHERS, Pileated Woodpeckers and southern swamp warblers. This section of trail hosts KENTUCKY WARBLERS in some years and not in others. Before long, the trail rejoins the entrance road. Go left on the road to continue the tour.
Continue down the service road and be alert for Carolina Chickadee and Tufted Titmouse flocks. Migrating eastern Warblers frequently home in on local insectivores such as Chickadees and Titmouse, so be sure to bird areas holding these resident birds thoroughly. After a short while, you will come to a spillway beside an earthen dam. Here there is a large open swamp on the left side of the dam. A nice side trip is to take a short walk on the trail leading right of the dam. This trail follows a hillside along the swampy area.
As you follow the service road across the dam, look over the open swamp for ANHINGAS, WOOD DUCKS, PROTHONOTARY WARBLERS, and other swamp denizens. The little stream on the right side of the dam is a good place to look for migrating NORTHERN WATERTHRUSHES in late April and early May. The trees along the right side of the dam are good for Warblers, Vireos and Flycatchers. Continue on the service road after the dam and go straight instead of turning left at the road beside the bluebird nest box.
Before long you will see a secondary road leading left from the main service road. Follow this road for a short way and you will reach a big swamp with a short boardwalk. This area is very good for ANHINGAS, ACADIAN FLYCATCHERS and swamp Warblers. After enjoying the boardwalk views, retrace your steps a few dozen paces and proceed down the trail to the right (was the trail on your left as you first approached the boardwalk). This trail leads through some nice woods and eventually reaches the edge of the large, open swamp. Stand here and look out over the swamp and you should see lots of WOOD STORK nests in the big Cypress trees. In April, you will see WOOD STORKS sailing overhead and landing to collect branches for their nests. After enjoying the Wood Stork rookery, continue down the trail and explore the area where the trail intersects another trail / old service road. Views of additional WOOD STORK nests may be enjoyed here. Turn left to continue back to the main service road near the end of the long dam. Turn right on the service road and walk back across the dam.
On the far side of the dam, take the trail to the right. This trail leads through some nice habitat which has HOODED WARBLERS and a KENTUCKY WARBLER during some years. When the trail rejoins the service road, turn right to head back to the parking area. Stay on the service road until you reach the entrance gate. Ignore some of the junky property on your left and watch for birds in the transition habitat.
A nice short walking tour follows the light blue arrows on the map image (see above). Walk in the service road from the parking lot and take the left fork (by going straight instead of taking the road to the right). Soon the road comes to a nice Cypress-Tupelo swamp. Two small trails lead right - this area is good for spring migrant ground Warblers such as OVENBIRD and NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH as well as migrating Warblers, Thrushes and breeding Wood Thrushes. One of the trails leads to a nice view of the swamp where WOOD DUCKS, PILEATED WOODPECKERS and BARRED OWLS are often spotted. Returning to the road and following it left around the edge of the swamp leads one through some nice habitat. Long-term plans for the preserve include a boardwalk across the swamp at the far corner of the left-hand service road loop. This is the dotted line segment that is highlighted in yellow on the map image.
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