Monthly Archives: March 2016

Morris Island Lighthouse

What was once a beacon to ships out to sea now juts out of the Atlantic Ocean as a reminder of days gone by.

The Morris Island Lighthouse, a defunct lighthouse just north of Folly Beach on Morris Island at the entrance of the Charleston Harbor, stands just a few hundred feet off the coast. Its light never shines, but it remains a beloved historical site for both locals and vacationers.

The 161 foot lighthouse tower was completed in 1876 for $149, 993. A Fresnel lens powered by lard oil shone light out over the water to guide ships safely to shore. Although the sole function of the lighthouse was to provide safer navigation for ships and vessels, the lighthouse itself was frequently at risk.
During its run as a working lighthouse, it was partially destroyed by a cyclone in 1885. In 1886, an earthquake shook the lens of the main light out of position and cracked the tower. Though these incidents provided blows to the lighthouse, nothing threatened the structure as much as the rapidly encroaching water.

In 1876 the lighthouse stood 1,200 feet from the coast, but when jetties were created in 1889 to protect shipping lanes, natural erosion was intensified and the ocean crept closer and closer. By 1938, the erosion was so great that the lighthouse became automated. Less than 30 years later in 1962 the lighthouse was too close to the shore and state officials ordered it to close.

The Morris Island Lighthouse was replaced by Charleston Light on the north side of nearby Sullivan’s Island. Now the lighthouse is preserved by the State of South Carolina and is under a 99-year contract with Save the Light, Inc. to preserve the historical structure through stabilization, erosion, and restoration. Save the Light also hosts events to raise funds for the preservation of the relic. Currently, a cement barrier is being constructed to help further preserve the tower.

Posted in Charleston, Folly Beach, lighthouse, Morris Island Lighthouse, photography Tagged , , , , |

Golden Eagle

A few months ago I was able to spend some time with my eldest daughter in Statesboro, GA. She is faculty at Georgia Southern University. The University has a Center for Wildlife Education where (among other things) they provide a home for injured birds that would not be able to survive in the wild. When I visited they had a beautiful Golden Eagle. This gorgeous bird caused me to do a little research and here is what I found.

Golden Eagle

Golden Eagle

This powerful eagle is North America’s largest bird of prey and the national bird of Mexico. These birds are dark brown, with lighter golden-brown plumage on their heads and necks. They are extremely swift, and can dive upon their quarry at speeds of more than 150 miles (241 kilometers) per hour.

Golden eagles use their speed and sharp talons to snatch up rabbits, marmots, and ground squirrels. They also eat carrion, reptiles, birds, fish, and smaller fare such as large insects. They have even been known to attack full grown deer. Ranchers once killed many of these birds for fear that they would prey on their livestock, but studies showed that the animal’s impact was minimal. Today, golden eagles are protected by law.

Golden eagle pairs maintain territories that may be as large as 60 square miles (155 square kilometers). They are monogamous and may remain with their mate for several years or possibly for life. Golden eagles nest in high places including cliffs, trees, or human structures such as telephone poles. They build huge nests to which they may return for several breeding years. Females lay from one to four eggs, and both parents incubate them for 40 to 45 days. Typically, one or two young survive to fledge in about three months.

These majestic birds range from Mexico through much of western North America as far north as Alaska; they also appear in the east but are uncommon. Golden eagles are also found in Asia, northern Africa, and Europe.

Some golden eagles migrate, but others do not—depending on the conditions of their geographic location. Alaskan and Canadian eagles typically fly south in the fall, for example, while birds that live in the western continental U.S. tend to remain in their ranges year-round.

Posted in Birds of Prey, Eagle, outdoor, photography Tagged , , , |