Jekyll Island Travelogue: 25 April 2012

(Part of a retrospective travelogue, day by day, with photos. It began here. PDF orientation map here. Click all images for larger views.)

25 April, Wednesday

Day five began early for us, up at 7 to meet friends Pat and Jerry at the north end at 9. We left the condo around 8:30 because we biked.

After happy hellos, we started by walking along “Driftwood” Beach. Actually, most of the tree trunks and limbs there aren’t driftwood but are trees that have died and fallen as their soil is eroded by the natural ocean movement around a barrier island, which carries land from north to south, accelerated for Jekyll by deep dredging between Jekyll and St. Simon’s Island to allow huge cargo ships to pass.

As we walked, Pat picked up litter, and we took time to look at the dead jellyfish, the dead sea turtle (which was called into the Georgia Sea Turtle center for pick-up), horseshoe crab molts and carcasses, “Swiss Family Robinson”-reminiscent shelters created by massive upturned tree root systems, and other evidence of life and death on the beach and its margins.

boneyard beach forms, JI, 25 April 2012 T and Jerry on north beach, JI, 25 April 2012

horseshoe crab shell, north beach, JI, 25 April 2012
horseshoe crab shell

large dead fish, north beach, JI, 25 April 2012
large dead fish

dead sea turtle, north beach,  JI, 25 April 2012
dead sea turtle

great egret, north beach, JI, 25 April 2012
great egret

From there, we walked back along the long and paved Clam Creek pathway to the car, looking along the way at marsh/wharf and fiddler crabs, periwinkle snails on the grasses, a 6-lined racerunner skink and baby skink, various animal paths through the marsh, and so on.

A short drive later and we were at the campground bird-feeding area, where I saw painted buntings, male and female, at the feeders, for the first time! Ever in my life! Also some house finches, which always surprise me with their colourful reddish purple look.  And cardinals and a bluebird.

male painted bunting, campground bird area, 25 April 2012
male painted bunting

female painted bunting, campground bird area, 25 April 2012
female painted bunting

Then, after we got our breath back, it was off to lunch at The Sand Bar and Grill at Oceanside Inn and Suites on Beachview, a casual restaurant we hadn’t been to before. Two of us had reubens, one had a burger, and I think I had corn fritters (very very excellent) and sides of broccoli and sugar snap peas. And lots of (unsweet) iced tea. Mmmm.

Fortified, we headed off to the high marsh along the Causeway — via the alligator pond (because you can’t visit too often, really). The marsh is a special place that Pat had visited before and wanted to show us. We finally, after almost 20 years of visiting the island, found out that the weird white thing we can see from the causeway is part of the St. Simon’s Island airport navigation system and not something aliens left behind when they visited. We walked out to it (hello, video surveillance cameras!) after checking out the marsh, the high marsh, JI causeway, 25 April 2012hammock and the pathway with prickly pear blooming abundantly alongside it and so many Great Southern White butterflies flitting about.

(This is when my 2nd  batch of camera batteries died, so we had to revisit the area later in the week.)

Pat and Jerry had another special place in store for us, where more alligators hang out, so we happily went there and saw another gator, some very large turtles (snappers?), a school of blue gills, a little blue heron, and a scarlet locust tree, which was beautifully in bloom.

alligator at new pond, JI, 25 April 2012
alligator at new pond

blue gills in new pond, JI, 25 April 2012
blue gills in new pond

scarlet locust bloom, JI, 25 April 2012
scarlet locust bloom

little blue heron, JI, 25 April 2012
little blue heron

By 3pm, we were back to our bikes and on our way home, with two new scarves Pat had made — a purpley one and a black-and-white one — in my knapsack. Thanks, Pat! (She also made a colourful Cinco de Mayo scarf for our dog, which I wore to a Cinco de Mayo party over the weekend :-))

After we rested a bit at home, and, more importantly, recharged some of the camera batteries, we drove back out to the new alligator pond and took some pics, then headed to the Glory Boardwalk at the Soccer Complex

Glory Boardwalk, JI, 25 April 2012
Glory Boardwalk

and walked on the beach to the Jekyll Point corner, enjoying the shore birds and the lovely beach.

South dunes beach, JI, 25 April 2012
South dunes beach

Wilson's Plover, South Dunes Beach, JI, 25 April 2012
Wilson’s Plover, South Dunes Beach

brown pelican, gills, skimmers, South Dunes Beach, JI, 25 April 2012
brown pelican, gills, skimmers

south dunes, JI, 25 April 2012
south dunes

Laughing gulls and royal terns, South Dunes Beach, JI, 25 April 2012
Laughing gulls and royal tern, South Dunes Beach

South Dunes Beach, JI, 25 April 2012
South Dunes Beach

Then, on our way to dinner at Gnat’s Landing on St. Simon’s Island, we stopped again at the Causeway marsh, and again, my camera batteries died! I got a few pics there but another trip was in the cards.

JI Causeway hammock, 25 April 2012

prickly pear bloom, JI Causeway, 25 April 2012
prickly pear bloom

grass stand on JI Causeway hammock, 25 April 2012
grass stand on JI Causeway hammock

Dinner at Gnat’s Landing in Redfern Village, one of our favourite places for outside ambiance and food, was the most disappointing thing about our vacation. We ordered grilled fish (wahoo and mahi) and both were as dry as shoe leather when delivered to the table. They were recooked, and though slightly better the second time around, were still dry and tasted like fish that had been re-frozen; that is, they were tasteless. How could the chefs not notice this? The cheese grits were good, as usual, and the crab balls, but we’re wondering if we will be visiting Gnat’s again on future visits. Catch 228, also at Redfern, was much better. But, there is the Gnat’s Landing bulldog to take into consideration (painted to match the old VW van that’s usually parked in front of Gnat’s Landing) …

Gnat's Landing bulldog, SSI, 25 April 2012

———————————————————

Animal count:

Deer: 2
Raccoon: 1 (marsh)
Alligators: 3
Skinks: two six-lined racerunner skinks (adult and juvenile, in marsh)
Turtles: one dead sea turtle; 3 large pond turtles
Birds: 2 painted buntings (male and female); 4 house finches; some cardinals; 2 small blue herons; great egrets; several brown pelicans; many royal terns, skimmers, laughing gulls, a Wilson’s plover, other plovers, sanderlings, and other shore birds; a blue jay; many grackles; and the usual mockingbird, red-winged blackbirds.
Crabs and sea animals: many dead jellyfish; many marsh, wharf and fiddler crabs; many periwinkle snails
Insects: lots of Great Southern White butterflies and red dragonflies
Plants: scarlet locust tree; many prickly pears in flower, sea oxeye daisy

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