Charleston SC – Audubon Swamp

BAllen-47One of my favorite places at Magnolia Plantation is the Audubon Swamp. The name comes from John Audubon, who visited there to find bird specimens for his drawings. Audubon came to shoot birds, so that he could paint them. Most wildlife artists, pre civil war, would draw or paint stuffed birds. Audubon used fine shot to kill the birds and wired them in position in natural settings. This produced more realistic paintings. It is much easier to shoot birds with a camera.

The swamp was formerly fresh water rice paddies built by slaves. There are a series of paths and wooden bridges to walk through the various areas of the swamp. It was mating season for birds and I was able to photograph this egret trying to impress the egret in the background. Usually a heavy and expensive lens is needed to photograph birds, but this one was only about 12 feet from me and I was able to get a decent shot with my less impressive lens.

The late afternoon sun created lovely abstract patterns with shadows of cypress trees. The swamp has been filling in with natural debris over the past few years. One of the paddies has completely filled in. There seem to be less birds than past years. It also makes it more difficult to photograph when the natural world is so cluttered.

BAllen_01-38The swamp also has alligators. Never having seen an alligator that wasn’t at a zoo, i was a little apprehensive walking around close to the water.

BAllen_01-36Here is a version of the Magnolia Plantation history from the perspective of the Black culture: