Downing Musgrove Causeway
The nine mile stretch of road connecting GA State Highway 17 to Jekyll Island is the Downing Musgrove Causeway, also known as the Jekyll Island Causeway. Two small ponds flank the first part on the causeway, each displaying a Jekyll Island sign. The road then goes between two Spanish-styled towers before running straight east and creating your gateway to Jekyll Island. To either side of the road you will see saltwater marsh, often with egrets, roseate spoonbills, and hawks hunting for a meal. There are several turn-offs that provide views of the marsh and the Sidney Lanier Bridge. Jekyll Sandpiper renters who appreciate nature will not get tired of driving the causeway. On your next drive you might see Kingfishers, a Bald Eagle, rabbits or a flock of ibis.
Sandpipers are a number of species in the large family of shore birds known scientifically as Scolopacidae. Since different species of sandpipers can have different bill lengths, they don’t tend to compete for the same food. So they can coexist in the same areas. Nerve receptors in the tips of their bills let many sandpipers find their prey through touch, odor, and pressure changes and gives them the ability to hunt at night. You can frequently find them at the water’s edge, pecking for a meal.
The following are some species of sandpipers that are common to Jekyll Island.
Horton Pond – Alligator Mecca
Across Beachview from the entrance to the Villas lies the access road to Horton Pond. A short walk takes you to the wheelchair-accessible viewing stand, from which you’ll almost certainly see turtles. Multiple varieties of turtles swim throughout the pond, including the larger Florida Softshell Turtles, the largest softshell turtles in North America. And you can frequently see turtles sunning themselves on the man-made platform in the middle of the pond. If you’re lucky, you might also see an alligator or two lying on the platform or swimming slowly through the pond. Although the reptiles and fish are the pond’s main attractions, you might see such birds as Roseate Spoonbills, Pied-Billed Grebes, Belted Kingfishers, or herons. While you might feel an urge to throw food to the animals, that’s not a good idea.
St. Andrews Beach
Walking from the St. Andrews Beach parking lot to the southernmost point of Jekyll is one of our favorite hikes on the island. On this walk you’ll see Little Cumberland Island, gorgeous stretches of Georgia beach, the mast of a buried shrimp boat, and you’ll likely see many shore birds. The round trip from the parking lot along the beach to the shipwreck and back is a little over a mile. But you might want to increase the distance of the hike by walking further along beach.
The St. Andrews Picnic Area parking lot is located off of Riverview Dr. on the southwest side of the island. Our usual route has us heading to the beach and turning left or south. Follow the coast until you see mast of the sunken shrimp boat. You can also take a short detour north from the parking lot to a lookout tower that provides a nice view.