The Lowcountry is full of subtle surprises in the fall season.
Ah, fall! This favorite season conjures up images of vibrantly colored leaves. The nip in the air makes us yearn for hot spiced cider and s’mores and being bundled up around a toasty fire. We pull out our jackets, sweaters, hats, mittens and boots to prepare for Mother Nature going full Frosty on us.
That is, unless you live in the Lowcountry.
In the Lowcountry, fall is a season that is so subtle, some would swear it doesn’t exist. With November temperatures hovering around 70 degrees and no vivid fall colors to herald in the seasonal change, it feels downright weird to see Thanksgiving and Christmas decorations begin to pop up around town. However, if you know what to look for, late autumn in the Lowcountry is a fascinating time of year that features a host of natural treasures and beckons you outside.
With the slight drop in temperatures and significant drop in humidity, late fall offers the perfect weather for hiking and biking and is the perfect time to discover the subtle changes of the season on foot or by bike.
While hitting the trails, be sure and look to the trees.
While our semi-deciduous live oaks and evergreens may not offer fiery autumnal foliage, they are home to multitudes of birds that enjoy spending the colder months here as much as our human snowbirds. American Goldfinches, Baltimore Orioles, Belted Kingfishers and Ruby-crowned Kinglets are just a handful of the winged jewels taking to our trees in the late fall and winter.
The noble Bald Eagles also become more abundant as they return from summering up north to reconnect with their mates and start restoring their enormous nests. If you have ever spotted what you suspect might be an eagle’s nest, keep a watchful eye, as eagles return to the same nest year after year to expand their feathered family.
For a more dramatic look at seasonal changes, grab a kayak or a standup paddleboard and tour the tidal salt marshes.
Here you will see our Spartina alternaflora, locally referred to as cordgrass, morphing from its vivid summer green to straw gold, as it goes to seed and begins to die back. Tailing Redfish abound and you can watch young Sharpnose and Bonnethead Sharks feeding in the grass.
This is also the only time of year when you can spot Hooded Mergansers and Buffleheads, ducks that are delightfully unique in their plumage. Other water birds — like Willets, Piping Plovers and American Oyster Catchers — are more abundant and easier to spot in the coming months.
We may still be wearing flip-flops and tank tops in November here in the Lowcountry. But signs of fall and the coming winter are all around us.
To book an outing with Outside Hilton Head, call (843) 686-6996 or outsidehiltonhead.com.