Entries by John Grego

Big Persimmons

February 18, 2014.  This day promises to be one of the first warm winter days we’ve had in a long time; it’s 44º at 8:30 AM with an expected high of 70º.  I’m still shocked at all of the tree damage from the ice storm. Walking down the Sims Trail, which has lots of tree […]

Ice Storm

February 15, 2014.  As I approach the park this morning, I start seeing indications of ice damage from a storm that passed through the southern Midlands on Wednesday, February 12. We barely had a limb down in Columbia, but only ten miles south the damage is widespread and heavy. The park has only recently re-opened […]

A Big Opening in the Forest

February 6, 2014.  This morning is clear with seasonal temperatures. A cardinal is singing its cheery song, reminding us that the days are getting longer and, for the most part, warmer. I see no holly berries on any of the trees I pass. A good number of holly leaves appear munched on and skeletonized by […]

Winter Birds, Conclusion

Five years after my first winter bird survey, I operated a banding station, using mist nets for capturing birds, at the census/survey plot for a single season in the winter of 1991-92. Banding and census/survey work are two entirely different approaches for determining the number of species and their abundance on a particular site, and […]

Essay: Winter Birds, Part 1

One very cold but sunny Christmas day back in the early 1980s, I visited the park for a few hours of birding and to hopefully work off a few holiday calories. After a period of walking, I stumbled across an impressive display of bird numbers, enough to make me forget the cold: hundreds of noisy […]

Snow in the Swamp, Conclusion

January 29.  Today is a rare opportunity to see snow in the swamp. The white stuff came in last night for several hours with about two-and-a-half to three inches of accumulation. Roads are drivable by noon, and I arrive at the park at 1:00 PM. There are six cars in the parking lot, and I […]

Snow in the Swamp, continued

January 28.  It’s 9:00 AM, and I’m running late this overcast morning. The temperature is around 40º, but with the wind, feels more like 30°. Snow is supposed to be on the way by early afternoon. I’m walking the boardwalk loop, about two and a half miles. The swamp is drying out from recent floods, […]

East atop Buckeye Ridge

East atop Buckeye Ridge 18 October 2018 Neal Polhemus Congaree is a special place unlike any other natural space in South Carolina – where the ebb and flow of river and rain water dictate more than any other factor the extent to which one can interact with the towering giants of the old-growth floodplain forest. […]

Snow in the Swamp

January 4, 2014 I roll into the parking lot at 7:00 AM. There has been a hard freeze this morning, down to around 24º, and I’m hoping for some sun to warm things up, but it’s 100% overcast. Fortunately there is no wind. I walk down the low boardwalk as far as I can go […]


I have spent more than 40 years exploring the wonders of Congaree National Park. Much of my early exploration was devoted to learning the “lay of the land,” a difficult task in a trackless forest with few landmarks. Later exploration became somewhat more focused – searching for and measuring big trees, studying the park’s flora […]