A Visit to the Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area

To decompress after too many days of St Patrick’s Day happiness at work, I decided to take a trip to Charleston, SC to visit the Botany Bay Planation Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area in Edisto Island, SC on Sunday and Patriots Point in Mount Pleasant, SC on Monday. I’d never visited Botany Bay before and even though the weather wasn’t cooperative and the lightning not very good for photography with the big lens, I still enjoyed my visit.

KF4LMT Mobile at Botany Bay Heritage Preserve and Wildlife Management Area

Botany Bays consists of just over 4.5 acres of land that once comprised the Bleak Hall and Sea Cloud Sea Island cotton plantations, making it of interest to those interested in either wildlife and history (it’s a bonus if you happen to be both). There are remnants of both plantations to be seen along the 6.5-mile driving/cycling tour of the property. There is a variety of wildlife habitats: pine/hardwood forest, wetland, marsh, and agricultural fields. I saw a lot of Fox Squirrels, including some very large ones (Botany Bay has terrific Fox Squirrel habitat) and Blue Birds (quite similar to the nearby Donnelly WMA). I visited during the afternoon, so the timing wasn’t good for seeing any, but I’m guessing that there are a lot of deer and turkey at Botany Bay as well.

The structures above are the remnants of the Bleak Hall Sea Island cotton Plantation. The top left photo is of a gardener’s shed used by a Chinese gardener that was brought to the plantation after one of Admiral Matthew Perry’s expeditions in the 1850s. The ornate white structure that looks like a chapel isn’t a chapel, it was used as a carriage house, for drying crops, and as an ice house. In the top right photo, you can see the pit under the floor where blocks of ice were stored. The tabby structure on the bottom right was a barn (the roof was accidentally burned off during a controlled burn in the 1970s); it was also used by the Coast Guard during World War II to store feed for horses used to patrol Edisto Island’s beaches.

The two photos above are of the ruins of the Sea Cloud Plantation main house. The first photo is of what would have been the front of the house that looked across the marsh. The second photo is of what would have been the side of the house. It was reported to be quite luxurious; surrounded by a hedge and with gardens to the front and rear, the third floor was said to be completely taken up by a ballroom.

The 6.5 mile driving/cycling tour is on dirt roads that go through a variety of habitats including marsh, hardwood/pine forests, and wetlands, making for a beautiful scenic tour. You can also see agricultural fields, some of which are cultivated for dove hunting. The mix of hardwood and pine makes great Fox Squirrel habitat and as a result they are plentiful. There are also a lot of Blue Birds, particularly around the agricultural fields. The wetlands make great places to catch a variety of birds, including wading birds like Great Blue Herons. The combination of woods and fields appear to be great habitat for deer and turkey, I suspect if one visited early enough in the mornings are late enough in the evenings, they would be plentiful as well.

I’ll definitely be visiting Botany Bay again (and hoping for better weather and lighting for photography). I plan on making a future visit more of an early morning or evening visit in hopes of catching what I think should be a lot of deer and turkey in addition to a large population of Fox Squirrels and Blue Birds.

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