New Year’s Day At St. Marks

New Year’s Day At St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge
By Phyllis Hiers
Posted January 28, 2013

Three Razorbills near the St. Marks lighthouse on January 1, 2013.

An album of photographs from this event are available here.

On January 1st Christ Church nature (and food) lovers, along with some families and friends, met at St. Marks National Wildlife Refuge for our 28th annual New Year’s Day adventure. A caravan of 15 left the church parking lot at 8:30 a.m. but that group had expanded to 40 by noon. We walked along the Gulf coast near the lighthouse enjoying a variety of wintering ducks, shorebirds, and wading birds. We felt especially fortunate to find a friendly Tallahassee birdwatcher who shared his birding scope to show us rare visiting Razorbills, penguin-like Arctic birds rarely seen from shore and then seldom further south than New York.

At noon we gathered in the picnic area to pool the lunch items each person had brought. There were hot black-eyed peas for luck and wealth in 2013, sandwiches, meats, salads, cookies, cakes, chips, nuts, candies. Two bald eagles flew overhead as we picnicked, and a contingent of our little girls had the unforgettable experience of seeing an eagle drop its lunch prey near them. After lunch folks walked further into the refuge to spot the eagles’ nest, wandered over to a nearby pond for birdwatching, or sat in the picnic area and visited.

By mid-afternoon, a slightly smaller group (many of them checking the score for the UGA/Nebraska game) headed to nearby Wakulla Springs for a boat ride along the Wakulla River, where they had close-up views of the manatees, anhingas, alligators, ducks, turtles, and wading birds who call Wakulla Springs home during the winter.

As evening drew nigh, 16 happy travelers drove a few miles to Spring Creek Restaurant for a delicious seafood meal and more good fellowship before the drive home.

Come join us next January 1st. It’s a great way to start the New Year.