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 daylight hours.
  • No fees at this Town of Hilton Head Island park.

Facilities

  • Parking.
  • Informational kiosks.
  • Boardwalks over the saltmarsh.
  • 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.

Background

  • 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 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.
  • 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. A scope is desirable.
  • The better shorebird viewing is to the right of Mitchelville Beach on the mudflats near Fish Haul Creek.
  • It is important not to disturb the shorebirds on their feeding and resting grounds.
  • 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.
  • 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.

Key Birds

Resident

Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Snowy Egret, Little Blue Heron, Tricolored Heron, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Yellow-crowed Night-Heron, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Bald Eagle, Osprey, Clapper Rail, King Rail, Willet, 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.  The endangered Piping Plover may also be spotted.  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 Mitchelville area is one of the best places for all vireos.

Summer

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

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.