ancient maritime forest

2.19.24 ~ Driftwood Beach, Jekyll Island, Georgia

It’s been so long since I’ve seen the ocean
I guess I should

~ Counting Crows
♫ (A Long December) ♫

It rained for the first two days of our three-day visit with our son and daughter-in-law in Georgia. But our spirits were not dampened and we packed a lot of fun in in spite of it. When the sun came out on day three we headed for the magical Driftwood Beach. The name of it doesn’t make a lot of sense because these ancient twisted tree trunks and branches are what remains of a maritime forest after years of erosion from the sea.

least sandpiper with shadow and reflection

Surprisingly, I only saw one gull there. But, the last thing I expected to see was a pair of woodpeckers! A new life bird for me!

Pileated Woodpecker, #82

The Pileated Woodpecker is one of the biggest, most striking forest birds on the continent. It’s nearly the size of a crow, black with bold white stripes down the neck and a flaming-red crest. Look (and listen) for Pileated Woodpeckers whacking at dead trees and fallen logs in search of their main prey, carpenter ants, leaving unique rectangular holes in the wood. The nest holes these birds make offer crucial shelter to many species including swifts, owls, ducks, bats, and pine martens.
~ All About Birds website

As we were leaving, walking towards the sun, I started to notice some of the shadows on the sand… and then an egret fishing in a little beach pond along the path back to the parking lot.

great egret

It was so good being near the ocean again, even if just for a few hours. More vacation pictures coming soon…

24 thoughts on “ancient maritime forest”

    1. I knew Woody looked different than all the kinds of woodpeckers I often see but I never made the connection until I saw these up close and in person.

  1. A great get-away! The mysteries of wave currents and erosion, creating the end for those trees. A few more years and they will be returned to earth. Congrats on your newest lifer… they are amazing to see, so big and what a call!

    1. Thank you, Eliza! It was a little startling to see how big those pileated woodpeckers are in person. When I think of the storms and hurricanes that must have torn away at that beach… The sea can be so healing and yet so destructive.

  2. Fabulous shots, Barbara! The driftwood scenes are stunning, including that long shadow shot. Congrats on the lifer, woot woot!! How crazy is that to find those woodpeckers there, I love it!!! Great job on your photos of them too, the lovely pair may be shopping for Spring real estate! 😍

    1. Thank you, Donna! I couldn’t believe my luck that day! The woodpeckers were pecking away at those trees with gusto, covering the sand with large rectangular wood chips. I should have gotten a picture of the chips. In most of my pictures their heads were in a blur of motion. 🙂

  3. The number three tree from top looks scary – like some kind of skeleton that cannot really surrender to being dead

    1. It seems to be the root system of a tree, standing perpendicular to the earth. My guess is that it somehow got severed from the tree it leans against. And how is that tree standing up without any support from its roots? Very mysterious!

  4. A visit to the sea again must have been like a breath of fresh air for you both, Barbara! And seeing a woodpecker, even if in a photo, is a treat for me as well – I have never seen one before, except in cartoon-form.
    The shadows across the sand look like a maze of the underground root system of the tree. You made many special ‘finds’ during your visit. 🙂

    1. It was a wonderful trip, to see the ocean again, to spend so much time with our son and daughter-in-law, and to encounter so much wildlife. My whole being is still bubbling with gratitude and happiness. Walking along that beach, seeing how the forces of nature felled and twisted and bleached all those ancient trees, filled me with awe. 💕

        1. The North Carolina shoreline is three and a half hours away from us. (Closer than Georgia’s!) That may be our next destination. 💜

  5. It felt like old times for you and Tim I’m sure, especially seeing and photographing the seagull. And how lucky you were seeing the Pileated Woodpecker – and not one but two, that posed wonderfully for you! The Driftwood Beach photos were amazing – everything else lively, like the seagull, sandpiper and jellyfish, plus the waves, then all that dead wood. I follow a Michigan blogger who visited that same beach a few months ago. She took some still shots and a video (a drone video if memory serves me right) of Driftwood Beach. I’ll look forward to seeing the rest of your vacation photos Barbara.

    1. It was wonderful seeing that solitary ring-billed gull! The beach had a much different feel than the ones we had in New England, but it was the ocean and it was wonderful smelling the salt air again. The pileated woodpeckers were amazing! I would never have guessed in a million years that they would be the new bird I would find at the seashore. I bet there are a lot of blog posts about Driftwood Beach out there — it’s pretty famous, widely advertised, and very easy to get to. I bet it would be even more hauntingly beautiful at sunrise or sunset, but it was good we got there at low tide.

      1. I can imagine how you felt – you really like your gulls, as do I. And that salt air smell! I will look and see if Sandra’s photos are at night or early morning. She also has a channel on YouTube. I had planned to catch up on here again and maybe write next week’s post but we are having severe weather Tuesday morning, parts of the day and possible tornadic activity Tuesday night. I hope they are wrong.

          1. Thanks Barbara – I am concerned as we spiked to 73 today. We smashed all kinds of records, but now we will have this storm event come in after midnight, so I will stay up if it is still packing a punch. And we are having rain tomorrow, a fast freeze, then snow. The weather is crazy these days.

  6. This Driftwood Beach is very eerie to me. It actually gives me the creeps. Yet I can see its beauty too. I’ve never seen anything like this. It doesn’t feel scary like the swamps with alligators. But it feels creepy like Halloween creepy. I wonder what it smells like, oddly enough? Because of the decaying forest, does it stink? I suppose there’s the salt air smells in the mix. And seeing the beach birds and sea life helps take away my wicked fears, and then I can breathe again.

    What an incredible new life bird or birds for you! I’ve never seen a Pileated Woodpecker. And the third photo of the pair is National Geographic quality, I say. Very cool.

    1. Thank you, TD! Seeing those woodpeckers was such an unexpected treat! To me the beach felt prehistoric, like the trees were ancient unearthed fossils from another geologic time period. I felt a little like a time traveler. The only smell I detected that day was the saltiness in the ocean air. I imagine when high tide comes in and covers some of the tree skeletons, the salt water would keep things like mosses and fungi from growing on them. I don’t think the trees are decaying the way they wood in the forest. They seem well preserved and only getting worn away slowly by the action of the waves.

      1. It certainly is a very unique landscape. I could see how it would feel like time travel into a prehistoric venue! I’m glad you could smell the salty sea air. Your observations of the trees are very interesting to me. I looked up to see if those trees are still alive or dead. It said the trees are dead and slowly eroding by the waves. Interesting place!

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