Fog-shrouded Beachwalker
at Midway Swash

By Henry H. Mitchell, December 17, 2008.

Bird at Midway Swash, Myrtle Beach

A Great Blue Heron (?) in the dense gray fog at Midway Swash.

Today at Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, a dense fog came rolling in to blanket the area on an otherwise sunny, clear afternoon. Visibility along the beach dropped to less than 200 feet.

Even though the temperature was warm (around 70 degrees), the beach was almost empty of human presence. A few surfers, an occasional jogger, one patient and determined Vermont sharks'-tooth hunter — that's the extent of this afternoon's beach population as we encountered it in the Myrtle Beach State Park area. Within the fog bank, we had the sensation of walking from room to room, and only occasionally finding an occupied one.

As we moved northward, past the Springmaid Pier, we spotted, at the limit of visibility, a wader in Midway Swash. Moving a few feet closer, it became evident that the wader was a tall bird, feeding in the rushing water of the swash as it met the ocean. As we approached, the bird shyly retreated, staying just barely visible to us. It seemed to stand about chest high, with dark feathers (at least not white).

I am not an expert on waterbirds, but my best guess is that the bird was a Great Blue Heron. As you can see from the accompanying photograph, we could not get close enough for a clearer view through the fog.

Assuming that it indeed was a heron, that was my second surprise-sharing-of-private-space with a Great Blue Heron — the first having been about twenty years earlier at a remote Native American fish weir on the Banister River in Pittsylvania County, Virginia (see the fifth photograph in Visual Reminders of Pittsylvania County's Native Americans.).

This guide to Myrtle Beach is sponsored by Mitchells Publications.