Officials from Wingard's Market in Lexington are providing an easy way for locals to view an annual summer spectacle on Lake Murray.
Many living on or near the lake know of the sight that attracts hundred of boaters to Bomb Island from around June to August each year. Nearly one million purple martins migrate to the small piece of land and can be seen flying around the island at dusk each night.
Zach Steinhauser, Wingard's Naturalist, will be offering boat tours for guests to view the birds throughout the summer. Steinhauser is a licensed United States Coast Guard Captain who has been across the nation and Brazil to study the bird.
“I have lived in this area since 2005 but visited here all my life and became fascinated with the purple martin at a young age, and I often wondered why this bird chose to stop here every night over the summer,” Steinhauser said. “It is the perfect layover to rest as they are making the journey south to spend the winter in South America. This island is the largest roosting site in North America, and I love sharing my knowledge with people interested in this phenomenon. Every night for me is almost like a new experience.”
While not endangered, the purple martins have faced about a 40 percent decline as a species in the last 50 years because people have steadily stopped putting up housing and provided nesting habitat for the birds to bring in future generations.
“One of my goals for these trips is to raise awareness to people about bringing purple martins back to South Carolina,” said Steinhauser.
Tours will be offered Mondays through Fridays from July 5 to Aug. 27, departing at 7 p.m. Guests are encouraged to arrive by 6:30. There will also be four Saturday morning sessions, leaving at 5:30 a.m. Tickets for the evening tours are $40 per adult and $35 for children, and morning tours are $60 per adult ad $55 for kids. The boat departs from Jake's Landing in Lexington.
Those interested can book tickets HERE.