Each July and August, on little Lunch Island in the middle of Lake Murray (old-timers call it Bomb Island for its role as target practice for Doolittle’s raiders), nearly a million purple martins gather to rest on their way south for the winter. Each day that they’re here, before dawn and after dusk they fill the skies to chow down on mosquitoes and gnats.
It’s quite a beautiful, almost stunning display, and it’s the largest natural roosting sanctuary in North America. Note that September’s too late to see them.
The 65-foot Southern Patriot (803/749-8594, www.lakemurraytours.com , $27) offers three-hour evening tours specifically to observe the purple martins during summer.