Trip Report


Francis Marion National Forest SC

April 12, 2015


Swallow-tailed Kite by Jane Holt



Michelle Combs and I had a pleasant day afield in the Francis Marion National Forest on Sunday, April 12th, 2015. Since the Francis Marion is so vast, we concentrated our time in the I'on Swamp area, a particularly birdy section of the forest close to our meeting location and providing a nice combination of cypress-tupelo swamps and longleaf pine savannas. 


We started off the morning being serenaded by Hooded Warblers, Northern Parulas, Yellow-throated Warblers, and Red-eyed Vireos. We also got a quick look at an Indigo Bunting high in a tree - a somewhat early migrant that was a pleasant surprise to us both!

We made our way slowly down I'on Swamp Road, stopping at the first cypress-tupelo slough we encountered. This area paid off, as we were treated to a good look at a Prothonotary Warbler, as well as quick but impressive looks at two soaring Swallow-tailed Kites.

We made our way slowly into the upland areas composed mostly of Loblolly and Longleaf pine. We stopped and photographed several Palamedes and Tiger Swallowtail butterflies which were feeding on roadside thistles. After birding slowly along the road for a while, we finally heard the characteristic sound of the Red-cockaded Woodpecker. We got out immediately and were treated to a small family group foraging close to the road - providing good viewing and photographs!

We backtracked to I'on Swamp Road and walked a short way down the I'on Swamp Interpretive Trail, where we again had good looks at Prothonotary Warblers, including one male starting to build a nest. We then halted for lunch - enjoying a nice meal at the historic SeeWee Restaurant in Awendaw.

After lunch, we returned to a different part of the I'on Swamp area, where we were able to get good looks at Prairie Warblers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, and heard a Black-throated Green Warbler (a great find for the SC coast!). We also got better looks at both Prothonotary Warblers and Swallow-tailed Kites.

We finished our trip up around 3:00 pm. In total, we had 42 species for the day.


Matt Johnson




Birds seen or heard on our Venture to

Francis Marion National Forest SC

April 12, 2015


Species encountered (42)

Great Blue Heron

Great Egret

Black Vulture

Turkey Vulture


Swallow-tailed Kite

Accipiter sp.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-tailed Hawk

Laughing Gull

Belted Kingfisher

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

Red-cockaded Woodpecker

Great Crested Flycatcher
White-eyed Vireo
Yellow-throated Vireo
Red-eyed Vireo
Blue Jay
American Crow
Fish Crow
Tree Swallow
Carolina Chickadee
Tufted Titmouse
Brown-headed Nuthatch
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Brown Thrasher
Prothonotary Warbler
Common Yellowthroat
Hooded Warbler
Northern Parula
Pine Warbler
Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler
Prairie Warbler
Black-throated Green Warbler
Eastern Towhee
Summer Tanager
Northern Cardinal

Indigo Bunting