Fish Haul Creek Park and Mitchelville Freedom Park

Fish Haul Creek Park and Mitchelville Freedom Park

Overview

Area name

Fish Haul Creek Park and Mitchelville Freedom Park

Area Location

North Island. The entrance to Fish Haul Creek Park is towards the end of Beach City Road, 2.4 miles from the stoplight on Hwy 278; Mitchelville Beach Park is at the end of Mitchelville Road near Barker Field.

Area Map

Access

  • Open in daylight hours.
  • No fee.
  • Town of Hilton Head Island park.

Facilities

  • Informational kiosks.
  • Parking.
  • Restrooms in parking areas, with showers at Mitchelville Freedom Park.
  • Walking trails to beach – the trail to Mitchelville Beach is shorter and is wheelchair accessible.
  • Boardwalks over the saltmarsh.

Key Birds

Resident

Great Egret, Snowy Egret, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Clapper Rail, King Rail, Willet,Great Blue Heron, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Yellow-crowed Night-Heron, Barred Owl, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Brown Thrasher, Pine Warbler, Sedge Wren (uncommon).

Spring

Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, American Oystercatcher, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Red Knot, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Dunlin, Dowitchers.  Reddish Egret, Red-necked Phalarope, Wilson’s Plover and other uncommon shorebirds are possible.  Ring-billed Gull, Laughing Gull, Forster’s Tern, Royal Tern, Sandwich Tern, Black Skimmer, Chuck-will’s-widow, Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow American Redstart, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Palm Warbler, Painted Bunting.

The endangered Piping Plover may also be spotted. The Mitchelville area is one of the best places for all vireos.

Summer

Chuck-will’s-widow, Painted Bunting. Nesting Willets are visible and vocal.  Yellow-crowned Night-Herons are likely to be seen during the day.

Fall

Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, American Oystercatcher, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Whimbrel, Red Knot, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Dunlin, Dowitchers, Ring-billed Gull, Laughing Gull, Forster’s Tern, Royal Tern, Black Skimmer.

Sandwich Tern, Black Tern, Least Tern and Common Tern all come through in large numbers.  Tree Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, warblers in migration, Palm Warbler.

Winter

Black-bellied Plover, American Oystercatcher, Marbled Godwit, Ruddy Turnstone, Whimbrel, Red Knot, Sanderling, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Dunlin, Dowitchers, Herring Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Laughing Gull, Forster’s Tern, Royal Tern, Black Skimmer, Eastern Phoebe, Brown Thrasher, Palm Warbler, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow.

Background

  • The parks are part of the Port Royal Mud Flats area, one of the best sites on coastal South Carolina for viewing shorebirds from late summer through mid-spring.
  • There are trails from the parking areas through maritime forest to the beach.
  • Fish Haul Creek Park’s trails are particularly good for Painted Bunting, songbirds and warblers in migration.
  • The best time for sighting shorebirds is two hours before or two hours after high tide. Check the local papers or published tables for daily high/low tides.
  • Horseshoe crabs nest on the beach in April – optimum time is during a full moon and high tide. Shorebirds then arrive to feed on the eggs, notably the endangered Red Knot.
  • It is important not to disturb the shorebirds on their feeding and resting grounds.
  • The better shorebird viewing is to the right of Mitchelville Beach on the mudflats near Fish Haul Creek.
  • Mitchelville has great historical significance as in 1862, shortly after the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation, the people of Mitchelville were the first to have a self-governed settlement for freedmen in the United States.
  • A scope is desirable.

Birds To Watch