Photos by Jenn Clementoni
Wings Over Beaufort, an Ecotourism & Birding Festival happening September 21 – 23, has taken flight!
Working with Visit Beaufort, Jenn & John Clementoni are the creators of Wings Over Beaufort. They live on Harbor Island and co-own Birding Beaufort. Both are certified Lowcountry Master Naturalists and outdoor enthusiasts.
Jenn also sits on multiple boards (Fripp Audubon Club, SC Lowcountry Master Naturalist and Friends of Cypress Wetlands). She is a shorebird steward with Audubon SC, is on the Harbor Island Sea Turtle Team, and is consistently ranked in the Top 10 Ebirders in Beaufort County, with more than 200 Species sighted, including several rare species.
Wings Over Beaufort will feature a full 3-day agenda that encompasses speaking engagements, kayaking, presentations, and birding tours – at multiple locations including Hunting Island, Widgeon Point, Whitehall Park & Nemours Wildlife Foundation – as well as a boat tour to St. Phillips and a tour of the Port Royal Sound Maritime Center.
It was important to the Festival creators to incorporate unique and special opportunities for people.
“Mother Nature has done the work, we just need to bask in the beauty of it all, but in a safe & responsible way,” says Jenn. “ We have brought people into the festival that we admire or learned from, making it the perfect event!”
Keynote Speaker Craig Watson currently resides in Charleston County South Carolina, where he previously worked as a full-time migratory bird biologist for the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service. Now retired, Craig moved to South Carolina 33 years ago and began his career with the U.S. Forest Service managing Red-cockaded Woodpeckers, particularly after Hurricane Hugo decimated the habitat and population of the woodpeckers. Craig transitioned into his most recent position with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service 25 years ago, where his primary duties were securing funds for bird habitat conservation from North Carolina to Puerto Rico. His most recent collaborative effort is the newly released Black Rail Conservation Plan and working with partners on the Atlantic Coast for the conservation of Black Rail.
Kelley Luikey is a South Carolina based award-winning photographer who specializes in fine art bird images. Her photos consistently rank in the Top 100 Images for national and international competitions such as the National Audubon Society, North American Nature Photographers Association, and others. They have also appeared in numerous publications including the National Audubon Society magazine and the cover of Garden and Gun magazine. While the majority of her time is spent photographing the local species of birds that she loves, she does travel for her bird photography and enjoys the challenge and excitement of photographing birds in different locations. Kelley will also do individual instruction and mentorships for bird photographers who would like to learn to photograph birds with more intention and creativity.
Dr. Andy Jones is a lifelong naturalist with a passion for the biodiversity of the southeastern United States. He came to the Spring Island Trust as Executive Director in May 2022. He studied biological sciences at the University of Tennessee and completed his PhD on the evolutionary history of Philippine birds at the University of Minnesota. From 2006 until early 2022, he worked as curator of ornithology at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History. He also became one of the team leads on Lights Out Cleveland, a group working with building managers to turn lights off during migration as well as coordinating volunteers to recover injured and dead birds that collided with buildings. Along the way, Dr. Jones has been active in nonprofit leadership. He has served as a board member and on the research committee of Black Swamp Bird Observatory, as a board member of Winous Point Marsh Conservancy, and as Secretary of the American Ornithological Society. He has been recognized as a Fellow of the American Ornithological Society for his contributions to ornithology.
For tickets and a complete schedule of events for Wings Over Beaufort, please visit https://birdingbeaufort.com/tours/.