Subtle changes signal a change of seasons and Fall in the Lowcountry.
Here in the Lowcountry, October is a month of gentle transition. As the seasons move slowly from the warm cloak of summer to the cooler, crisper temperatures of fall, all around us nature is beginning that last dance before heading into winter dormancy. While our seasonal transition may not be as flashy as further north, there are many subtle changes in which we can delight.
You may catch sight of a spectacularly colored butterfly bobbing and weaving its way from point A to point B. These winged creatures reach peak migration during late September and early October. Residents of Hilton Head Island can spot breathtaking cloudless sulfurs, gulf fritillaries, swallowtails and monarchs passing through on their way to Florida.
You can help support these stunning pollinators in their journey. Try planting passionflower, cassia and native milkweed in your yard or garden. Monarchs need native milkweed for laying their eggs. The nectar from passionflower and cassia help fritillaries and sulfurs with reproduction.
Another subtle sign of the changing season is the salt marsh’s gradual shift from green to gold.
This is a result of the Spartina grass dying back. In addition to this beautiful color change, as the cord-grass reaches the end of its growth stage, it begins to flower and go to seed. These flowers and seeds are essential food sources for migrating birds.
Fall in the Lowcountry brings several rare types of pipers, plovers and avocets to our area.
You’ll see all species of birds taking a short layover, as they head for warmer climates for the winter. Keep in mind that some of these birds may fly as many as 10,000 miles before their travel is complete. When birds are spotted feeding in the surf or foraging in the pluff mud, they are doing an important refuel and getting some much needed rest. Please keep dogs and children from chasing birds. Burning too much energy could make the difference in a bird surviving a long migration.
And, let us not forget about fall oysters.
From May to October, we are deprived of the opportunity to indulge in the deliciousness that is our Lowcountry oyster. The warm water and air temperatures of spring and summer raise bacteria levels and can make them unsafe to eat. That, coupled with the fact that summer is their breeding season. This leads to an unpleasant, mealy texture, keeps our local oysters off any summertime menus. But now, once the DNR deems our waters cool enough, oyster harvesting season will open. We can once again savor that briny goodness.
While we may not have fiery foliage or nose-nipping nights, there are still plenty of joys to be found in our autumnal environment.
Visit outsidehiltonhead.com and discover all the cool-weather adventures we offer. Let our guides introduce you to the wonders of October in the Lowcountry.
By Anneliza Itkor, Outside Hilton Head
To book an outing with Outside Hilton Head, call (843) 686-6996 or visit outsidehiltonhead.com.