July 19, 2015 - So begins the next installment of Birds and Brews, at the Whole Foods on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I'm ...

Birds and Brews - HHI, South Carolina

July 19, 2015 -

So begins the next installment of Birds and Brews, at the Whole Foods on Hilton Head Island, South Carolina. I'm at the beer tasting event on a Tuesday afternoon and Susan, the beer and wine buyer for Whole Foods is serving the new offerings from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company. While they were all good, that is not what this post is about...

Westbrook's Gose - The can says it all!
Susan was a very nice lady, so my brothers and I were talking to her about all sorts of beers. I had mentioned that I liked sour beers, and she disappeared, only saying that she would be right back. Susan reappeared with a can of Westbrook Brewing Gose from Mt. Pleasant, SC, just outside of Charleston. Since this wasn't a part of the beer tasting per se, I was slightly confused, but I figured I would go with the flow, especially since this meant free beer. Though I don't really have to mention this to anyone that knows me, beer is good, but free beer is great.

Upon trying a sample of the Westbrook Gose, I knew it was something that I really liked. For those unfamiliar with the Gose style, they are generally lighter beers with a salty and slightly sour taste. While it might be an acquired taste to some, I find them to be amazing. The Westbrook was the best Gose I had ever tasted. I left with some bound for Ohio. It seems that Susan saw it coming and that she only needed to give me a sample to get me to buy a lot more. Well played, Susan, well played.

Since I had entirely too many liquid calories at Whole Foods, I was in the need of a long walk with heavy camera gear, binoculars, water, my dad, etc... We decided to go on our annual trip to Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge. This island sits in close proximity to Hilton Head Island and is reached by turning off of the bridge from the mainland to Hilton Head Island a bit early. Speaking of a bit early, my dad and I arrived at Pinckney Island NWR at about 6:30AM. The light was just coming up and the humidity and temperature were already rising. I had some targets in mind including my South Carolina nemesis, the Wood Stork, and Painted Buntings which are always amazing to see.

Wood Stork
On the walk to Ibis Pond, a place where hundreds of White Ibis, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Black-crowned Night-heron and more birds nest, I was able to see the first of my targets. A Wood Stork was seen flying at a very long distance over the mussel beds at low tide. Despite the distance, I was still able to obtain identifying photos. Hiking further into the island, I was able to see the hundreds of nesting birds described above, a Bald Eagle feasting on them, and some bonus birds like Wood Ducks and Common Gallinules.

Given the Wood Stork, I didn't care if I saw any other new birds. But, I was still able to get great looks at cooperative Painted Buntings to finish off the day. In all, I saw 39 species that morning over the course of a few hours. Not bad for a small island that I suspect most people don't even notice as they are driving to Hilton Head Island for their summer vacation.

More Birds
White Ibis
Tricolored Heron
And More Beer!!
Sierra Nevada's offerings at Whole Foods

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