I'On Swamp is one of my favorite birding hotspots in Charleston County. This low country wilderness provides undisturbed habitats that attract a diverse population of birds throughout the year. In the spring time there are a variety of colorful songbirds that inhabit this wonderful wilderness.
I’On Swamp is ranked #36 on eBird with 176 bird species recorded.
I set out to explore the I’On Swamp on a warm spring morning. The mosquitos were in full force especially when I dared to enter any wooded areas. This trip was focused on I’On Swamp Road, the I’On Swamp Trail and a portion of Forest Service Road 228-A.
I drove along I’On Swamp Road with the windows open listening for songbirds. I heard birds singing and calling all along the road. I parked near a section of the road that has wetlands on both sides. Walking the road a plethora of songbirds filled the air with beautiful songs. Red-eyed Vireos were singing their whistled four phrased song: here-I-am, in-the-tree, look-up, at-the-top
I could hear several Northern Parulas with their rising buzzy song ending with a sharp note: zeeeee-up
Stunning bright yellow Prothonotary Warblers were singing sweet sweet sweet sweet sweet.
I headed further into I’On Swamp and turned down a forest service road. I heard Northern Cardinals, White-eyed Vireos, Yellow-throated Warblers and Hooded Warblers! The Hooded Warbler prefers the forest undergrowth and breeds in the bottomland hardwood habitat. These magnificent looking warblers have a loud musical song: wheeta, wheeta, wheet’eo.
I made it to the I’On Swamp Trail continuing to look for more wonderful birds. As soon as I stepped out of the car and I could hear the familiar song of another very cool warbler. The Ovenbird sings a loud teacher, teacher, teacher. These attractive warblers are white underneath with dark brown streaks, they have an olive back and a rufous crown-patch on their forehead. And if you are curious about why they are called ovenbirds they make a covered nest with a side opening that looks like an old fashion oven.
I entered the trail and continued to hear a variety of songbirds singing away. Listen to the wonderful bird ensemble below.
I spotted another captivating Prothonotary Warbler singing high in the tree canopy. Two Red-eyed Vireos flew to a nearby branch offering a closer look. Further down the trail a large brown bird was flushed by a group of hikers and perched in a perfect viewing spot. It was a Barred Owl! The Owl was weary of the group walking down the trail and eventually flew off into the wilderness.
I walked the 2-mile picturesque loop of the I’On Swamp Trail. Throughout the walk I could hear numerous Prothonotary Warblers, Northern Parulas, Red-eyed Vireos, and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.
It was a wonderful trip finding 7 Warbler species, 3 Woodpecker species, 2 Vireo species and a Barred Owl! If you haven't visited the I'On Swamp Trail I would definitely recommend a visit, it is not just for birders but for anyone that loves the outdoors!
The day yielded 28 bird species in 2 hours 33 minutes. I covered 7.31 miles by car and foot. eBird Checklist: https://ebird.org/checklist/S132978406