Brickyard (Meridian/Merry) Ponds
Located near downtown Augusta, Georgia close to the Savannah river, clay for brick manufacture has been mined in this area for nearly a century. The ponds are water-filled, abandoned clay mining pits. The clay mines were operated for many years by the Merry Brick Company and are known locally as the “Merry Ponds.” Meridian Brick company now operates the Brickworks.
The main attraction of the brickyard ponds is the large numbers of migrating ducks that arrive in fall and winter. American Eagles are commonly seen in the area.
To reach the Brickyard Ponds take the Gordon Highway (1) and turn South on Doug Barnard Parkway (56). Turn left immediately ( approximately 100 yards) on Brickpond Road. This road can also be reached by taking Doug Barnard Parkway North from the Bobby Jones Expressway (I-520) for about 2.9 miles. You must register with the attendant at the small brick building (aka Fish Shack) on Brickpond Road. There is a $4.00 charge per person to bird at this site. The fee is primarily to fund road maintenance.
There is a restroom at the brick Fish Shack. The old Fish Shack at the North end of the ponds has been torn down.
Years ago, bricks were made in North Augusta along the Savannah River. To get material for brick making, clay soil was dug out of the ground, leaving depressions that filled with water. These isolated wetlands exist on about 20 acres of property within the Hammond’s Ferry development along the Savannah riverfront. The wetlands have now been preserved as an attractive educational park with boardwalks, trails, a gazebo and more. The Brick Pond Park is the newest addition to the North Augusta Greenway Trail.
To reach the Park From I20 take Martintown Rd. to West Ave. Turn right on West and go to Buena Vista. Turn left on Buena Vista. From Augusta take the 13th street bridge to North Augusta and turn right onto Buena Vista. On Buena Vista turn right just past the old municipal building (there is an emergency light at the building) onto Shoreline Dr. Stay on this road until you see a traffic circle almost below the 13th street bridge. Turn right onto the road under the bridge and there is a small parking area marked for the Brick Pond Park.
Augusta Levee and Lover’s Lane
Following severe flooding in 1908 and 1915, a 15-20 foot high levee was constructed from the head-gates of the Augusta Canal to Butler creek. The Southern portion of the levee is undeveloped and ideal for viewing migrating passerines. From the roadway on top of the levee trees can be scanned from a relatively elevated position that helps prevent “warbler neck.”
An unpaved portion of Lover’s Lane runs to the levee. It passes through floodplain hardwood forest, cypress-tupelo swamp, and grassy fields offering excellent habitat for migrants.
To reach Lover’s Lane and the Levee take the Bobby Jones Expressway (I-520) to Laney Walker Boulevard. Turn right on Laney Walker Boulevard and then immediately right again (0.1 mile) onto Columbia Nitrogen road. Soon after turning onto Columbia Nitrogen road you will see a swampy wetland on the right (Columbia Nitrogen Swamp) which is a good area to view wading birds, shorebirds and ducks in season. Continue on the paved road about 2 miles to where the pavement ends. Continue on the unpaved road until you reach the Levee.
Alternatively, you can turn left on a dirt road where the paved road ends and drive directly to the Levee. The property adjacent to Lover’s Lane and the Levee is private and some of it is posted so birding should be confined to the roadways.
Operated by the PHINIZY CENTER FOR WATER SCIENCES, Phinizy Swamp Nature Park is located on 1,100 acres just South of the Augusta, Georgia metropolitan area. A central feature of the Nature Park is an extensive series of constructed wetlands. In addition, beaver ponds, lakes, natural swamps, creeks, and mixed deciduous-pine forests are found in the Park. These diverse habitats attract a wide variety of passerine songbirds, wading birds, raptors and seasonal migrants. In addition, wild turkey, beaver, river otter and muskrat are commonly seen. Access to the park is via well-maintained trails and an extensive boardwalk.
Detailed descriptions of the birding venues and directions to the park can be found on their Website (linked above).
Silver Bluff Audubon Center and Sanctuary
Located near Aiken, South Carolina and Augusta, Georgia, Silver Bluff Audubon Center and Sanctuary, situated along the Savannah River contains 3,154 acres of upland pine forest, hardwood bottom-lands, fields, lakes and streams, it is typical of much of the Coastal Plain of Georgia and the Carolinas.
The wide variety of habitats contained within Silver Bluff offers spectacular wildlife viewing opportunities. For the birdwatcher, Silver Bluff boasts a checklist with over 200 species, including endangered Wood Storks!
Silver Bluff is actively managed to provide income from its forest products. The property has been certified as a producer of environmentally sustainable timber products by SmartWood under the Forest Stewardship Council system.
The Silver Bluff Audubon Education Center is a good starting point for birding the refuge. The address is 4542 Silver Bluff Road. Jackson, South Carolina 29831.
To reach the Education Center, proceed to the intersection of South Carolina Highways 125 and 302 (approximately 4 miles southeast of Beech Island, SC on Hwy 125). Turn Southwest on Silver Bluff Road. Travel 1.8 miles and you will come to a stop sign. Continue straight, crossing Old Jackson highway. After 1.1 miles you will cross a set of RR tracks. Travel a short distance and the paved road will become a sand/clay road. From this point, proceed approximately one mile and you will see the education building on the right side of the road.
Please respect all posted signs and gates. Wildlife, plants, and artifacts at Silver Bluff are protected by Federal and State Law and by the National Audubon Society.
This park in Columbia County has boardwalks over wetlands, concrete sidewalks, interpretive signage, and an interpretive center.
The park is located just behind Zaxby’s restaurant, across from the West Lake subdivision and next to the Forest Creek subdivision, off of Fury’s Ferry Road in Martinez. To get there, from Washington Rd, go north on Fury’s Ferry Road. and turn left on Park Lane which dead ends in the park.
The Augusta Canal was built in 1845 to provide water power for local industry. It is still in use for its original purpose and is Georgia’s only designated National Heritage Area. Birding the canal involves walking along its 8.5 miles of towpath and waterway (motorized vehicles are not allowed). Birding habitat includes the canal waterway, the Savannah River and patches of bottom-land hardwood forest.
The canal can be accessed from either end. Detailed directions to the canal can be obtained at the Augusta Canal website. A free self-guide tour map is available at the Interpretive Center 1450 Greene Street in Augusta.
Crackerneck Wildlife Management Area and Ecological Reserve
On the Old Jackson Highway in Jackson, SC, go past the post office and then at the ball field, turn right and drive until you see a sign pointing to the left where the road turns dirt. Turn here to reach the area.
Hitchcock Woods is a 2,000 acre Southern forest located in the midst of urban Aiken, South Carolina. It is owned and managed by the Hitchcock Foundation, a non-profit organization established by Thomas Hitchcock and his daughter, Helen H. Clark in 1939. There are 65 miles of marked, sandy trails throughout the 2,000 acre woods. In addition to the upland forest, Hitchcock woods offers additional interesting bird habitats that include wetlands, streams and rivers.
Hitchcock Woods is open daily from dawn until dusk. Due to its size, it is advisable to obtain a map. These are available at the seven main entrances or by mail – Hitchcock Foundation, PO Box 1702, Aiken S.C. 29802. Further details and a downloadable map can be obtained at the Hitchcock Woods Website.
This 1,067 acre park is located 16 miles East of Aiken, South Carolina. It was formerly called Aiken State Park. It contains four spring-fed lakes and the South Edisto River. Habitat includes riverine swamp and dry sand hills. There is a 3 mile nature trail and other hiking venues in the park. See the website for directions and more information.
Super Sod Farm
The main attraction of the Sod Farm is migrating shorebirds in August and September. These include Pectoral, Upland and Buff-breasted Sandpipers and American Golden Plover. Horned Larks are easily seen on the sod. Species can vary from morning to afternoon. The best birding is usually along Super Sod Boulevard but you should check all around. Stay on the roads while in the sod farm and do not walk on the sod fields.
To reach the sod farm proceed to the intersection of I-26 and highway 301 approximately 6 miles east of Orangeburg, South Carolina. Turn West on 301 (toward Orangeburg). In 0.7 mile you will see the office and entrance road to the Super Sod Farm on your left. If the office is open, be sure to stop and let them know you are birding.