I often forget how privileged we are in the Lowcountry to live around so much water, from the massive ocean to tiny creeks, all brimming with life.

Maybe I should go inland more often.

Because of the aquatic abundance, it's appropriate that one of our 130-plus road races is dedicated to water.

On Saturday, the students in the College of Charleston's Masters of Environmental Studies Students Association will hold its 12th annual 8K for H2O race on Folly Beach with proceeds going to an important cause: Water Missions International and its efforts to provide clean water to victims of Typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines.

Over the past decade, MESSA has donated more than $40,000 to local water-related causes, mainly environmental ones such as Lowcountry Earth Force, Charleston Waterkeeper and Friends of the Edisto. The race typically draws 200 to 300 registrants.

Saturday's race will be at 9 a.m. on Folly Beach. The fee is $25. All current students at the college, the Medical University of South Carolina, The Citadel, Charleston Southern University and Charleston School of Law will get a $5 discount when presenting a valid identification.

Pre-registration packet pick-up starts at 7:30 a.m. Saturday and late registration starts at 8 a.m.


Backyard birding

Heading into late winter is a great time to have bird feeders up and filled with seed and other food.

And next week, local backyard birders will be able to participate in a massive "citizen science" project, the Great Backyard Bird Count. This year's count will be Feb. 14-17.

Launched in 1998 by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and National Audubon Society, the count helps collect data on wild birds, and because it's an online effort, results are posted in near real time.

In Backyard Bird Count was the first online citizen-science project to collect data on wild birds and to display results in near real-time. Since its inception, more than 100,000 people have participated in the annual snapshot of bird life.

In 2013, Great Backyard Bird Count participants in 111 countries counted 33,464,616 birds on 137,998 checklists, documenting 4,258 species - more than one-third of the world's bird species,

All it takes is at least 15 minutes on one or more days of the count.

Why count birds? Scientists use information from the Great Backyard Bird Count, along with observations from other citizen-science projects, such as the Christmas Bird Count, Project FeederWatch and eBird, to learn about to bird populations and get clues on climate change and bird diseases.



More ecology-oriented lessons are offered by Charleston County Park and Recreation Commission year-round, but February is often conducive to taking advantage of these opportunities because, frankly, the weather is.

Among them are bird walks, such as one held on Folly Beach, 8:30-10 a.m. Tuesday, starting from the fishing pier. The walk will focus on the ocean for a variety of ducks, seabirds and shorebirds. The event is free.

On a more practical level, the commission's "Stewardship Series" workshop on backyard composting, will be 10-11 a.m. Saturday at James Island County Park. Experts from Charleston County Environmental Management will share what can be composted, how to create a simple composting structure, and how to prepare and maintain a practical composting system. The fee is $7-$9.

For a complete list of events for this weekend, go to www.ccprc.com. Many events require advance registration, which can be done by calling at 795-4386

Bridge Run camp

Though many training camps for the Cooper River Bridge Run have started already, one kicks off on Saturday morning.

Wilson Coaching's eight-week Bridge Run group workouts will be held at 9 a.m. Saturdays, concluding March 29. The workouts start from the Mount Pleasant Memorial Waterfront Park.

Lauren Wilson says the camp is designed to get runners "out of their comfort zone and give them the push they need to become more efficient and faster" for the April 5 race.

"Too often I hear runners say they do not incorporate speed work into their training program," says Wilson, who was the top female finisher in last year's Kiawah Island Golf Resort Triathlon. "Each 60-minute workout will focus on strength-oriented hill repeats or anaerobic threshold conditioning."

The cost is $60 for the program or $10 for drop-in.


Reach David Quick at 937-5516.