Naturalist Calendar

  • A couple of White Ibis in flight

Every Season Is Spectacular On Little St. Simons Island!

With every month and new season across this rare natural sanctuary come fascinating changes in wildlife activity, bird sightings, plant species, landscapes and other natural phenomenon. Based upon past observations by our team of naturalists, the following is a brief and general look at what you might expect to see, encounter or experience during your visit to Little St. Simons Island.

January

• Very rarely Pilot Whales have been spotted off of Main Beach
• Adult Bald Eagles are visible on nests, incubating during the first week of the month
• Christmas bird count reveals over 100 species spend the winter on the Island, including White Pelicans, Red Knots, Wilson’s Plovers and Piping Plovers. Northern Gannets can be spotted on the horizon diving into the ocean
• Yellow-rumped Warblers are everywhere. Chipping can be heard from every Wax Myrtle shrub
• Bald Eagles are common, both resident nesting birds and larger northern birds overwintering
• Cedar Waxwings show up in large flocks, feeding on holly berries
• Bald Eagle nest shows signs of hatched chicks!
• Great Horned Owls continue to incubate their eggs at nest
• Mars is brilliant right now and at its closest approach to Earth–a great time to view

February

• Purple Martins spotted on martin house. Scouts come back and begin to search out suitable nest locations. Yellow-throated warblers can be heard singing late in the month
• Carolina Jessamine blooming all along beach road; earliest wildflowers begin to bloom
• Great Horned Owl chicks seen sitting on top of its mom in the nest
• Bald Eagle chicks are more active, moving around and very visible
• Organic garden is flourishing! Winter crops like kale, collards, radishes and carrots are regularly incorporated into guest meals
• Many ducks spotted at Myrtle Pond, including Blue and Green Winged Teal, Bufflehead, Scaup, Gadwall, Mottled Ducks, Mallards and Pied-billed Grebe
• Owl chicks grow larger and likely fledge

March

• Coral-root, a delicate saprophytic orchid is now in bloom
• As days warm up, alligators are frequently seen sunning on banks
• Ruby Crowned Kinglets and Robins seen around the compound
• Eagle chicks getting larger; stretching and flapping their wings and keeping the adults busy
• Black-necked Stilts forming pairs, common in Myrtle Pond and North Pond
• Bird song fills the forests- Parula, Pine Wablers, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers and Vireos
• First Oystercatcher nests can be found on the beach
• Leopard frogs seen on the path to Norms Pond

April

• Painted Buntings return (often seen at the feeder near the Main Lodge)
• Bald Eagle chicks fledge
• Fallow bucks sport new antler growth
• Squirrel Treefrogs, Green Treefrogs, Southern Leopard Frogs and Southern Toads are heard calling and seen mating. Listen for the roaring bellow of male alligators as mating season begins
• Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Tri-colored Herons in courtship displays around ponds
• Horseshoe Crabs emerge by the thousands, then retreat to the sea as mating season begins on beaches
• First Roseate Spoonbills and Ruby-Throated Hummingbirds of the season
• Prickly Pears flowering and Magnolias in bloom
• Spring tides offer great beachcombing discoveries
• Spring migration peaks with excellent opportunities to view songbirds, shorebirds, birds of prey and rare birds
• Fishing activity picks up (Red Drum, Black Drum, Spotted Sea Trout, Sheepshead). Surf fishing, too, with sharks being caught

May

• Lovebugs are out, especially at the gazebo. Their arrival means its truly spring on the island!
• Dewberries ripe along Beach Road
• Loggerhead Sea Turtle nesting season begins. (Join in an evening, naturalist-led turtle walk!)
• Osprey chicks in nest; juvenile Bald Eagles likely seen
• Baby Southern Toads all along Beach Road
• Owls and Chuck-Will-Widows heard at night
• Deer fawns observed
• Coral Bean in bloom
• Shorebirds are feeding heavily on Horseshoe Crab eggs and other marine resources
• Fishing for Red Drum and Spotted Sea Trout is becoming more productive in Mosquito Creek; off the main dock, too
• A great month for birding! This is the height of shorebird migration seen at Sancho Panza Beach and Myrtle Pond
• While kayaking in the creeks, look for baby striped burr fish swimming about–a type of Pufferfish very abundant this season

June

• Baby Armadillos and baby Marsh Rabbits out and about all along Beach Road
• New Loggerhead Sea Turtle nests observed and recorded
• Spanish Bayonet blooming along Beach Road
• Large Alligator populations active in ponds and tidal marshes
• Snowy Egret and Great Egrets chicks likely seen at Norm’s and Stag ponds
• Look for fuzzballs at the beach! American Oystercatchers, Wilson’s Plovers and Willets all have chicks
• Pulling the seine net is a great way to see the abundant ocean life just off of Main Beach. This time of year is very productive and the diversity is great!
• Diamondback Terrapins laying their eggs
• Evening Turtle Walks, led by naturalists, are a favorite summer evening adventure
• Warmer waters mean good fishing: creek, surf, dock or pond. First Tarpon of the season are often hooked
• The sky is crowded in June! Sightings likely of: Willet, Osprey, Wood Stork, White and Glossy Ibis, Painted
Bunting, Reddish Egret, Bald Eagle, American Oystercatcher, Belted Kingfisher, Black Skimmer,
Roseate Spoonbill and more

July

• Roseate Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Cattle Egret, Black-necked Stilt, Yellowlegs, Black-crowned Night Heron and alligators at Goose Pond
• Barn Swallows nesting
• Blossoming Railroad Vine all over beach dunes; Sea Oats are fresh and green
• New Loggerhead Sea Turtle nests (and false crawls) observed and recorded; nests are beginning to hatch
• Alligators are nesting
• The beach is calling: go sunning, shelling, biking, surf fishing. Seining with our naturalists is a discovery-rich family event!
• Fallow bucks with full antlers and young fawns all getting larger
• Birds rules the beach! Least Tern, Reddish Egret, Piping Plover, Marbled Godwit, Whimbrel, Sanderling and Black Tern
• Pond environs lively with dragonflies, tadpoles, and frogs
• Pickerelweed and marsh hibiscus flowers are in full bloom at Willow Pond and other freshwater wetlands

August

• Warm summer days get the creatures stirring, including raccoons, armadillos, turtles, frogs, deer and more
• Loggerhead Sea Turtle hatching season reaching its peak. Spotting a baby turtle hatchling is rare, but possible
• Female alligators patrol this year’s nests, with last year’s young swimming nearby
• Horsemint in is bloom; Beauty Berries are bright pink
• Adult and immature Bald Eagles, as well as Osprey and Red-tailed Hawks patrol the skies
• A naturalist-led pond tour will likely spot Black-crowned Night Heron, Glossy Ibis, Anhinga, Common Moorhen, Least Bittern, Blue-winged Teal and Roseate Spoonbill
• Crabbing usually good off the main dock and the beach ponds
• Red Knot, Long-billed Curlew and Marbled Godwit start returning to Sancho Panza beach
• Tarpon can be found by lucky fishermen in deep water holes in Pine Creek or the Hampton River

September

• Beach seining with a naturalist may yield pompanos, pogies and shrimp
• Gulf Fritillary butterflies likely everywhere
• Tree Swallows, by the thousands, begin to gather in Sancho Panza area and near Main Beach
• Alligator nests begin to hatch
• Green Fly Orchid in bloom around the compound and in the maritime forest
• Loggerhead Sea Turtle nesting season slows (join a naturalist on a nest excavation)
• American Avocets can be seen at Myrtle Pond
• Bull Redfish are on the move and may be caught during fall surf fishing
• From the dock, shore or a skiff, this is a good month for trout in Mosquito Creek
• The early fall weather is perfect for a bike or kayak adventure
• What a month for bird lovers! Likely spottings include: Black-crowned Night Heron, Long-billed Curlew, Black-bellied Plover, Black-necked Stilt, Piping Plover, Reddish Egret, Caspian Tern, Royal Tern, Glossy Ibis, Marbled Godwit, American Oystercatcher, American Bittern, Marsh Wren, Greater Black-backed Gull, Nighthawk, Osprey, Brown Thrasher (our state bird), Ruby Throated Hummingbird, Yellow Warbler, American Redstart, Eastern Kingbird, Blue-winged Teal, Bald Eagle, Northern Harrier, Red Knot, Anhinga and many more

October

• Sweetgrass and Goldenrod in full bloom; marsh plants are many shades of yellow, red, and orange
• Bountiful butterflies on the Island, including Zebra Longwing, Long-tailed Skipper, Gulf Fritillary, Monarch, White Peacocks and Little Yellows
• Reptiles are very active including snakes, skinks and lizards
• Fall warblers, countless swallows and other passerines moving through during migration
• Fishing luck may include Bluefish, Tarpon, Reds, Spotted Sea Trout and Flounder
• Great Horned Owls and Eastern Screech Owls calling in the Lodge compound
• The Island is alive with birds this month. Large numbers of shorebirds getting ready for migration and a huge numbers of Peregrine Falcons migrating through
• Turtle nesting season concludes. Nest excavation on the last few nests are going on now

November

• Dolphins feeding in Mosquito Creek
• Bald Eagles begin nesting at their traditional Island locations
• Clouds of Tree Swallows swarm the Wax Myrtle trees, eating the berries before they continue to move south
• Alligators out, soaking up the autumn sun and foraging deer often seen
• American White Pelicans can potentially be spotted at the beach
• Bald Eagles return and may be seen rebuilding nests to be ready for the upcoming breeding season

December

• Excellent fishing for Sea Trout, Redfish, and Flounder on artificial lures
• Great Horned Owls busy nesting
• Good month for spotting ducks around the Island's ponds and tidal creeks including Mottled Ducks, Hooded Mergansers and Buffleheads
• Bald Eagles begin to incubate their eggs