to the marsh, up the lighthouse steps

2.19.24 ~ Jekyll Island
Tricolored Heron, #85 (see edit below)

Some pictures from the rest of our one sunny day… After leaving Driftwood Beach we stopped at an observation deck looking over one of Jekyll Island’s marshes. Lucky for me, I found another life bird. ๐Ÿ™‚

Little Blue Heron, #84

A small, dark heron arrayed in moody blues and purples, the Little Blue Heron is a common but inconspicuous resident of marshes and estuaries in the Southeast. They stalk shallow waters for small fish and amphibians, adopting a quiet, methodical approach that can make these gorgeous herons surprisingly easy to overlook at first glance. Little Blue Herons build stick nests in trees alongside other colonial waterbirds. In the U.S., their populations have been in a gradual decline since the mid-twentieth century.
~ All About Birds website

juvenile little blue heron

EDIT: I misidentified the first heron photo in this post as a Great Blue Heron, which Donna so kindly brought to my attention. And so I’ve added another life bird, the Tricolored Heron, to my list!

The Tricolored Heron is a sleek and slender heron adorned in blue-gray, lavender, and white. The white stripe down the middle of its sinuous neck and its white belly set it apart from other dark herons. This fairly small heron wades through coastal waters in search of small fish, often running and stopping with quick turns and starts, as if dancing in a ballet. It builds stick nests in trees and shrubs, often in colonies with other wading birds. Itโ€™s common in southern saltmarshes and was once known as the Louisiana Heron.
~ All About Birds website

Eventually we wound up on St. Simons Island for a late lunch and a visit to St. Simons Light.

The Lighthouse and Keeperโ€™s Dwelling were built in 1872 to replace the original lighthouse built in 1810 by James Gould of Massachusetts, the first lighthouse keeper. The original lighthouse was destroyed by Confederate forces in 1861 to prevent the beaconโ€™s use by Federal troops during the Civil War. The Lighthouse is one of only five surviving light towers in Georgia. The Lighthouse still serves as an active aid to navigation for ships entering St. Simons Sound, casting its beam as far as 23 miles to sea. Visitors may climb the 129 steps to the top to experience spectacular, panoramic views of the coast including Jekyll Island, the mainland (Brunswick), and the south end of St. Simons Island. The Keeperโ€™s Dwelling is a two-story Victorian structure that was the home of lighthouse keepers from 1872 until the 1950s. Today it houses the Lighthouse Museum, and includes interactive exhibits, rare artifacts, and period rooms that reveal the history of St. Simons Island and the life of a lighthouse keeper.
~ Golden Isles website

St. Simons Lighthouse Museum
Coastal Georgia Historical Society
image credit: Wikipedia

All four of us climbed up the 129 steps, stopping at each landing to catch our breath and take pictures out the windows. I think it worked out in such a way that there was one window facing in each of the four directions. There was a sign on the wall of each landing and window, indicating the number of step remaining to climb.

The view was amazing but Tim complained of vertigo so he didn’t get to walk around the balcony up top.

waxing gibbous moon

When we got back down we toured the keeper’s quarters…

parents’ room
children’s room

And then it was back to the vacation cottage for one last evening of conversation before we were to leave the next morning. It was a very long, wonderful day!

27 thoughts on “to the marsh, up the lighthouse steps”

  1. Love those views, Barbara, wow! Congrats on yet another lifer of the Little Blue! Woohoo!!

    Do you have the Tricolored Heron on your lifer list yet? ๐Ÿ˜‰ I am hoping not, lol, as your first photo is a Tricolored Heron. Fingers crossed!

    1. Oh my goodness, thank you for pointing the Tricolored Heron out to me, Donna!!! No, it wasn’t on my lifer list yet! It’s funny, I hesitated when identifying it as a great blue, and I should have done more cross checking. They’re so similar. ๐Ÿ˜‰ (Off to edit the post…)

  2. Another life bird for you Barbara – what a trip this was! I wondered why the heron had white feathers and then I found out why. Your herons posed nicely for you as well. I like the tour of the lighthouse – that looked fun. The one lighthouse I was in was very narrow and the steps were steep and there were no railings. That’s quite a view from the top you had and a lot of steps. That lighthouse was very tall. I liked seeing the living quarters of the lighthouse keeper which rooms were quite large. It reminded me of the movie I watched that you recommended to me “The Lightkeepers”.

    1. I guess I wasn’t noticing those white feathers, though I felt something might be off. I think a little part of me didn’t think another life bird would be possible on the same day. ๐Ÿ˜‰ I had a great time at the lighthouse and was so happy that the steps were reasonably sized. I was surprised that Tim decided to climb up with us in spite of his health problems and of course I worried about him the whole time. Worried about my son, too, as he is approaching the age Tim was when he had his near-fatal heart attack. But everyone was fine and I’m glad we could all share the memory. (Back in 2015 Tim refused to climb to the top of a castle turret with me in Germany.)

      1. So many birds out there to see and learn about – I can’t even find the simple ones like a bluebird, but one day hopefully I will. I am still hoping to see the long-eared owl at Lake Erie Metropark that people keep taking pictures of in the Metropark Photographers Facebook Group. Other photographers have asked to divulge where this owl is, but they are not saying.

        I can see you being worried about Tim and your son. Heart disease runs in my family. That’s part of why I started walking and that was before blogging and sitting extra hours in front of a computer. I sit too many hours between work, catching up on social media, watching the newscasts online and blogging. Walking helps and is a low impact exercise, so that’s good you and Tim do your walks routinely. The lighthouse steps probably seemed more stable than steps in a castle turret, so that was a plus.

        1. The trip was truly a birdwatching bonanza for me! I guess it pays to take a trip to a new environment to see new birds. I do hope you get to see a bluebird some day. We had a few in our yard yesterday. I’ve never had a chance to photograph an owl in the wild, although I’ve captured a few used in falconry demonstrations. The only wild owls I’ve seen have been swooping by too quickly to enjoy the sighting.
          Yes, the experts say “sitting” is the new “smoking.” Keep moving is my motto. ๐Ÿ™‚ You’ve got an excellent strategy for staying healthy, and you do a lot more walking than we do. ๐Ÿ˜‰

          1. You will be back visiting your son and daughter-in-law in Georgia more often given your great time and birding success. I had always heard owls are mostly out at night but these people are taking photos during the day. And, it was sad earlier this week to hear about the death of Flaco, the owl who escaped a zoo in NYC and has been at large for a year. There were multiple sightings of Flaco peering in office high-rise windows. Can you image looking out and seeing an owl looking at you?

            Yes, I sit entirely too much and right now I am shifting around from a long “sitting day” – I often get up and walk around during my work day, but today was the last day of business at the old office and lots of little details. My boss is now in two offices – half his stuff at his home office, half at a friend’s office. At least it will be warmer this weekend – I will venture out with a camera. Last week I went to Humbug Marsh – they were supposed to be demolishing the power plant “stacks” tomorrow morning and then in May imploding the power plant. I planned to take photos of each event standing in the same spot. So drove there Sunday – it was bitter cold. Yesterday they announced the demolition was cancelled without date, which I found interesting. They were supposed to clean up the debris and consider turning it into another riverside park.

          2. Before, after and during pictures of the power plant and its stacks would be a great photo op if you can catch it. But the best part would be the creation of a new riverside park. I’m not sure if too many trips to Georgia are in the cards for us, the traveling for this one was pretty grueling with our health problems, but it was worth it to see the kids. It’s more likely they will be coming here in the future. It must have been thrilling to see an owl peering into the window. Poor owl. I think I remember reading about that owl in the New York Times one Sunday morning.

          3. Well the birding adventure was the icing on the cake for your Georgia trip but the family is/was the most important reason for the visit. I am sure they will be glad to visit you in your new home. I would have liked to see that owl peering in at me too. I had heard about Flaco when it first escaped and it had a real fan base while alive and after it died, there was a memorial at a tree where it often perched. The City said it died from striking a building and I was reading an article yesterday that there was concern it might have eaten a poisoned rat and the poison in its system made it confused, thus crashing into the building.

          4. It’s too bad Flaco became such a tourist attraction. I was reading that because he hunted a night and he roosted during the day he was often disturbed by people getting too close and trying to get his attention for a photograph. Poor owl.

          5. That is sad Barbara. Flaco became a novelty and he just wanted to be a bird who enjoyed his freedom after being in captivity for so long. It’s too bad the vandals cut the protective netting in Flaco’s enclosure and he escaped. At the Detroit Zoo, someone let a baby wallaby out of its enclosure and it hopped away the Zoo suspects a hawk got the baby which was very small at the time.

  3. I absolutely love lighthouse, Barbara, so really enjoyed reading this post. Iโ€™m so glad you had the opportunity to climb to the top! I wrote a post many years ago about climbing to the top of Byron Bay lighthouse. I loved the experience! But when I made it to the top, I chickened out when it came to going out onto the top balcony. Your blue heron friend is very beautiful too. ๐Ÿ’•

    1. So happy to hear you enjoyed this post, Joanne! Where we used to live we could see four different lighthouses at the same time from Avery Point. I miss seeing them all the time. But there was never an opportunity to climb up any of them. So this was a new experience for me and I loved it, too! I found your Byron Bay Lighthouse post from ten years ago. Thanks for reminding me about it! ๐Ÿ’•

        1. It sure was! It would be fun to see a new post about your Byron Bay Lighthouse if you go, and maybe you’ll see a mountain goat next time. ๐Ÿ™‚

          1. I heard they removed the goats! Iโ€™m not sure why they did that, but I guess it was for their safety. The sleepy coastal town of Byron Bay became a famous tourist destination overnight when the likes of Paul Hogan and Olivia Newton John moved there and several other famous people joined them. The old Byron was far less touristy.

          2. Oh well, nothing lasts forever. Where we lived in Connecticut was already a tourist area so we are used to dealing with more people and traffic during tourist season. And then in 2013 Taylor Swift bought a seaside mansion 20 miles east of us in Rhode Island. So now the lighthouse cruise points it out along with the all the lighthouses…

          3. Oh dear, Rhode Island has Taylor Swift, Byron Bay has Chris Hemsworth and Zac Efron … these big stars have no idea what they do to our home areas! ๐Ÿ˜‰

  4. One good day of sun! The lighthouse views are wonderful!! Did you take that photo of the waxing gibbous moon? Smashing sight. Good thing they had the posters of stair count. I like that. I also enjoyed seeing the pictures of the museum.

    Thrilled for another life bird for you. Iโ€™ve never seen a little blue heron.

    1. Thank you, TD!! Yes, I took the picture of the moon with my zoom lens from the top of the lighthouse. I had my eyes on that day moon up in the blue sky all day. Maybe some day you will see a little blue heron. I looked at a range map and the coast of Texas year-round is included. Apparently some of them breed in Connecticut but I never saw one while I was living there.

      1. This morning I went to the โ€œall about birdsโ€ website to look up and listen to the little blue heron and also read about them on the Texas A&M website. They are here! I have been coming here since I was six years old. At 64 Iโ€™m so surprised that I havenโ€™t noticed them. Perhaps now I know what to look for, I will see them. I will admit that I havenโ€™t been to the marsh lands in years and thatโ€™s where they live.

        I also just noticed that you got to see the juvenile too! Lucky you!!

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