Southern Living says Huntington Beach is best birding site on East Coast
Birdwatchers, take note! A recently published article by Southern Living will point you directly to South Carolina’s Hammock Coast!
Headlined “The Best Spots for Birdwatching in South Carolina,” the article highlights five “can’t-miss” birding spots in the Palmetto State. Huntington Beach State Park, a birders’ paradise on the Hammock Coast, is at the top of Southern Living’s list.
“As Americans’ appreciation for the outside world continues to grow amid the isolation and uncertainty of the coronavirus, so does interest in the age-old hobby of birdwatching,” Meghan Overdeep wrote. “Nationwide, downloads of bird identification apps have soared, and sales of bird feeders, nesting boxes, and birdseed have spiked. But in South Carolina, the birding trend is nothing new.”
Indeed, along the Hammock Coast — the tourism moniker for Georgetown County, South Carolina – birders’ binoculars have easily spotted hundreds of species, everything from marsh and shore birds to songbirds and American eagles. One of the best spots — but certainly not the only one on the Hammock Coast, Huntington Beach State Park is a birders’ dream come true anytime of the year.
“With more than 300 species sighted in the park’s 2,500 coastal acres,” the Southern Living article notes, “this renowned state park is considered by many to be the best birding spot on the East Coast. Huntington Beach is particularly known for migratory birds in search of the warmer waters of South Carolina. Tanagers, orioles, pelicans, oystercatchers, wood storks, and white egrets all call this expansive park home.”
Huntington Beach State Park is located in Murrells Inlet, one of four beach communities that make up the Hammock Coast. Other communities include southern Garden City, Litchfield Beach and Pawleys Island – all of which offer their own birding opportunities. The 2,500-acre park features three miles of pristine beach, 173 campsites, and, most famously, Atalaya Castle, a national historic landmark and once the winter home of Archer and Anna Hyatt Huntington. World-famous Brookgreen Gardens, also established by the Huntingtons, is across Ocean Highway from Huntington Beach State Park, and it’s another great place for birders.
Bryan Stevens, who’s published the blog “Our Fine Feathered Friends” and a weekly newspaper column in Tennessee, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina for more than two decades, says Huntington Beach State Park is a must-stop for birders of any skill set.
“Huntington offers something for everyone,” Stevens said. “From painted buntings, which can often be seen visiting feeders around the park, to occasional sightings of rosette spoonbills, the state park comes alive in all the colors of the avian world. It’s really a special place, and because it has marshes, forests and beaches, you can see a large variety of birds in one place. It’s really not to be missed.”
The park offers tips on where and how to bird here. Park admission is $8/adult; $5/ S.C. senior; $4/youth age 6-15; Free for children 5 and younger.
— By Mark A. Stevens, director of tourism development, Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce