27 December 2014

Sat 27 Dec 2014 survey

Sat 27 Dec 2014


   I was fortunate today to be joined by three great birders for the waterfowl/shorebird survey on Bulls Island: Wil Christenson, Cathy Miller, and Carl Miller. Carl's original plans changed late thus allowing him to make his own reservation with Coastal Expeditions for the ferry and, thus, join us for the day. 

   As I had silently predicted, there were many folks showing signs of cabin fever between the holidays, extended families present, and the recent rains; a terrific cure for such ills is a trip to Bulls Island on the CEX ferry. There were about 70 people who showed up for the ferry, including us. Captain Wil, currently on sabbatical from CEX, was conscripted back into service to pilot a second boat over to Bulls and back. Thanks, CEX, for your continued enthusiastic services in hauling us out to Bulls and back. 

   Our time on Bulls was more restricted than usual because I had forgotten that CEX's winter schedule departs at 10:00 AM (not 9:00 AM) and returns at 3:00 PM (not 4:00 PM). Nonetheless, on our foreshortened survey we tallied 45 species on the survey proper and 84 on the whole day's outing. Cathy graciously and conscientiously kept then shared eBird lists on the day; our shared checklist for the island is appended below, FYI. There were no particularly outstanding sightings, but birds of some interest included good numbers of Gadwall, Ruddy Duck, Dunlin, American White Pelicans, Red-breasted Merganser, Redhead, and Peregrine Falcon along with small numbers of Sora, Piping Plover, and Least Sandpiper. In smaller-than-expected numbers were Lesser Scaup, Black Duck, American Wigeon, and Green-winged Teal.

   Upper Summerhouse Pond was, again, very ducky with about 700 waterfowl. The water level there has risen, I assume due to the recent rains, and as a possible result there were fewer shorebirds there than seen recently. I'm sure that when they put in a new trunk to replace the one lost they will also put in a new water level gauge. The salinity there was 29 ppt--not too bad since it was fully tidal for some weeks back in the early fall. Jack's Creek, however, remains particularly salty at 35 ppt (full seawater is 35 ppt).

   Non avian sightings were limited to the expected American alligators, a few Monarch butterflies, and deer tracks. 

   Looking ahead at the tide calendar suggests the following dates to consider for our next survey:

Th 8 Jan 2015 high tide 5.1 ft at 9:27 AM
Fri 9 Jan 2015 high tide 4.9 ft at 10:03 AM
Sat 10 Jan 2015 high tide 4.7 ft at 10:40 AM
Mon 12 Jan 2015 high tide 4.3 ft at 12:05 PM

Stay tuned for further plans.



Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, US-SC
Dec 27, 2014 10:43 AM - 4:13 PM
Protocol: Traveling
19.999 mile(s)
Comments:     Participants:  David McLean, Wil Christenson, Carl Miller & myself.  This was part of theshorebird/waterfowl survey that David McLean conducts for the Fish & Wildlife Service.  This list represents birds sent from boat to & from Bulls Island as well as birds seen on island in & near Jack s Creek and near & on Upper Summerhouse Pond.   Submitted from  BirdLog NA for Android v1.9.6
77 species

Gadwall  540
American Wigeon  8
American Black Duck  2
Northern Shoveler  42
Green-winged Teal  25
Redhead  64
Lesser Scaup  53
Bufflehead  70
Hooded Merganser  7
Red-breasted Merganser  10
Ruddy Duck  300
Common Loon  3
Pied-billed Grebe  27
Horned Grebe  11
Wood Stork  1
Northern Gannet  2
Double-crested Cormorant  83
Anhinga  1
American White Pelican  50
Brown Pelican  7
Great Blue Heron  10
Great Egret  12
Snowy Egret  37
Little Blue Heron  9
Tricolored Heron  11
Black-crowned Night-Heron  19
White Ibis  28
Black Vulture  4
Turkey Vulture  4
Osprey  1
Northern Harrier  2
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Clapper Rail  3
Sora  2
Common Gallinule  15
American Coot  420
American Oystercatcher  48
Grey Plover  23
Semipalmated Plover  110
Piping Plover  2
Spotted Sandpiper  2
Greater Yellowlegs  3
Willet  31
Ruddy Turnstone  13
Sanderling  30
Dunlin  1150
Least Sandpiper  2
Western Sandpiper  4
Short-billed Dowitcher  40
Ring-billed Gull  10
Herring Gull  6
Forster's Tern  16
Belted Kingfisher  7
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Northern Flicker  2
Merlin  1
Peregrine Falcon  2
Eastern Phoebe  3
Blue Jay  8
Tree Swallow  24
Carolina Chickadee  3
Tufted Titmouse  1
Marsh Wren  1
Carolina Wren  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  5
Eastern Bluebird  3
Northern Mockingbird  5
Pine Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  20
Eastern Towhee  8
Savannah Sparrow  3
Song Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  1
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  25
Boat-tailed Grackle  20

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S21050371

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

11 December 2014

Th 11 Dec 2014 survey

Th 11 Dec 2014


   I was joined today by Wil Christenson and Steve Moore for the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. We joined the USF&WS maintenance crew, Greg and Alex, for a quick ride over to the island. There was ice on the deck of the boat as we climbed aboard for a bracing ride through the marshes. Once on the island we quickly warmed up and enjoyed beautiful, cool, sunny weather with light winds. The fall archery hunts for deer have concluded and the Coastal Expeditions Ferry is running regular service on Saturdays only, so Bulls Island in full refuge mode now. It was a pleasure being there knowing that so few other people were about.

   We tallied 47 species on the survey proper and 80 species on the day's outing. Our eBird checklist is appended, below, FYI. Upper Summerhouse Pond (USP) continues to impress. We estimated about 1300 waterfowl there with Gadwall, American Wigeon, Northern Shoveler, and Ruddy Ducks making up the bulk. Across the island White Ibis, Ruddy Duck, and Hooded Merganser species were in high counts. One large flight of Dunlin in the oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek was estimated to be 1370 individuals. We also saw a pair of putative Norther Pintails, but never got an absolutely confirmatory look. Other avian sightings that we enjoyed included American Kestrel, Peregrine Falcon, a Worthington's form (subspecies, type, race?) Marsh Wren, and first-of-season (for me) Cedar Waxwings (sorry you missed those, Wil, they flew over Garris just after you drove off).

   While we were scoping the waterfowl on USP a Cooper's Hawk flew over at the same time that many of the ducks flushed. That left us wondering if a Cooper's Hawk would ever attempt to take waterfowl, i.e., did the waterfowl have reason to be wary of a Cooper's Hawk? Sprunt and Chamberlain (South Carolina Bird Life) relate incidents of Cooper's Hawks going after a Green Heron, a Ring-necked Duck on the wing (i.e., the duck on the wing), and a Clapper Rail…all  incidents reported from Bulls Island. So I suppose those ducks were well justified to be wary.

   Notable misses included Laughing Gull (really!) and Bald Eagle. Other species in low numbers included Western Sandpipers and Lesser Scaup. The North Beach was very quiet, bird wise, today; there have been few shorebirds there this entire calendar year in strong contrast to the previous two years when the shorebirds, gulls, and terns would gather there by the thousands. At least the shelling was pretty good on the North Beach.

   Non avian sightings include a few alligators (including "Gatorzilla"), a few bobcat tracks in the sand dunes, and two Fox Squirrels. After last week's deer hunt, we were pleased merely to see a few deer tracks.

   Looking ahead at the tide calendar suggests the following date for our next survey:

Sat 27 Dec 2014 high tide 5.4 ft at 11:53 AM

Stay tuned for final plans.



Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, US-SC
Dec 11, 2014 8:00 AM - 3:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
14.5 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey with Wil Christenson and Steve Moore. Effort: 4.15 mi  and 15 min by boat plus 9.1 mi and 2 hr by truck plus 1.25 mi and 4 hr 45 min by foot. Weather: very early high thin clouds (a 'mackerel sky') quickly clearing to fully sunny and cool; temps 28 F to 51 F; early winds NE shifting about 10 AM to NW then shifting about 12:30 to E, all <= 5 mph; barometer steady at 30.05 in Hg. Tide was forecast 5.1 ft high at 10:37 AM.  <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3
80 species

Gadwall  518     Most on Upper Summerhouse Pond. Estimate. Excellent scope views of most in ideal light.
American Wigeon  400
American Black Duck  7
Mottled Duck  4
Northern Shoveler  158     Most on Upper Summerhouse Pond. Excellent scope views in ideal light.
Green-winged Teal  35
Redhead  6
Lesser Scaup  20
Bufflehead  56     Widely scattered across the island.
Hooded Merganser  277     Mostly in several tight braces numbering 40 to 50.
Red-breasted Merganser  4
Ruddy Duck  299     A fairly accurate count.
Common Loon  1
Pied-billed Grebe  82     Widely scattered all over the island.
Horned Grebe  6
Wood Stork  7
Northern Gannet  2
Double-crested Cormorant  112
Anhinga  5
American White Pelican  37
Brown Pelican  18
American Bittern  1
Great Blue Heron  13
Great Egret  32
Snowy Egret  70     Most grouped in congregations along with Great Egrets, White Ibis, and other wading birds.
Little Blue Heron  3
Tricolored Heron  7
Black-crowned Night-Heron  25
White Ibis  178     One large congregation plus many widely dispersed individuals.
Glossy Ibis  2
Turkey Vulture  4
Osprey  3
Northern Harrier  2
Cooper's Hawk  2     One of these may have flushed many waterfowl under scope view.
Clapper Rail  5
Common Gallinule  23
American Coot  182
American Oystercatcher  1
Grey Plover  33
Semipalmated Plover  220
Piping Plover  1     No apparent leg bands or flags.
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  14
Willet  29
Marbled Godwit  1
Ruddy Turnstone  70     A fairly accurate count.
Sanderling  64     A fairly accurate estimate.
Dunlin  1373     All but 3 individuals in one resting flight. I counted individuals in one scope view then multiplied by the number of scope fields that the flight filled.
Western Sandpiper  3
Short-billed Dowitcher  13
Wilson's Snipe  1
Bonaparte's Gull  3
Ring-billed Gull  14
Herring Gull  10
Forster's Tern  29
Mourning Dove  25
Belted Kingfisher  5
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  2
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  2
American Kestrel  1     1 male.
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Phoebe  3
Tufted Titmouse  1
Marsh Wren  1     1 Worthington's.
Carolina Wren  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
American Robin  6
Grey Catbird  2
Northern Mockingbird  3
Cedar Waxwing  15
Palm Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  20
Swamp Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  5
Red-winged Blackbird  6
Eastern Meadowlark  1
Common Grackle  8
Boat-tailed Grackle  10
American Goldfinch  4

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20864852

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

28 November 2014

Fri 28 Nov 2015 survey

Fri 28 Nov 2014


   We had planned on conducting the Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey this past Tuesday, but the thunder and lightening at 7:30 AM Tuesday morning quickly changed our plans. So instead I got out there today to take advantage of the beautiful but cold weather. Coastal Expeditions, specifically Captain Gates Roll and First Mate/Naturalist Rachel Jones, graciously allowed me to hitch a ferry ride out to the island along with many other folks also doing their best alternative Black Friday excursion. [Coastal Expeditions will be running one of their Long-billed Curlew excursions out of McClellanville this Sunday 30 Nov 2014; check out their announcement at: http://www.bullsislandferry.com/index.php?page=CurlewTour.]

   I tallied 47 species on the survey proper, 81 species on the day's outing. See my eBird checklist, below, for a full accounting. Waterfowl have returned to Bulls Island in pretty good numbers, and it's still early in the season. 

   Upper Summerhouse Pond (USP) was spectacular today as I counted 13 species of waterfowl and over 1000 individual waterfowl from one vantage point! [No typo there: over 1,000.] Most numerous were Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead, Gadwall, Hooded Merganser, and Ruddy Duck. Also at USP were Redhead, Canvasback, and Northern Pintail along with a scattering of shorebirds and wading birds. I don't remember USP having this many waterfowl since the 1970s when I first started going to Bulls with my father and Calvin Clyde (both from Florence County, both recently deceased) for Christmas Counts. I offer my apologies for my thoughts of doom and gloom for USP after the dike broke in August and was repaired in September. 

   Of particular note from Jack's Creek were two Horned Grebes (normally seen in good numbers in the marshes of BullsBay but not in any of the Bulls impoundments) and a Wilson's Snipe. Overall shorebird numbers were down as both the North Beach was practically devoid of shorebirds and the oceanfront marsh at Jack's had precious few shorebirds other than a flight of about 800 Dunlin. 

   Non avian wildlife sightings were somewhat limited today to the expected American alligator and Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. More horseshoe crab carapaces were left along the high tide line on the North Beach than I ever recall, especially small ones 4 in to 5 in across, and shelling was fairly good, too.

   Looking ahead at the tide calendar suggests the following dates to consider for our next survey:

Thursday 11 Dec 2014 high tide 5.1 ft at 10:37 AM
Friday 12 Dec 2014 high tide 4.9 ft at 11:19 AM

Stay tuned for final plans.



Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, US-SC
Nov 28, 2014 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
17.449 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. Effort: 4.15 mi (one way) and 1 hr by ferry plus 11.1 mi and 2 hr by truck plus 2.2 mi and 5 hr 30 min by foot. Weather: clear, sunny, and cold; temps 34 F to 45 F; AM winds NNE at 10 mph to 12 mph, PM winds NW at 5 mph; barometer 30.39 in Hg rising to 30.41 in Hg [by 11:15 AM] then falling to 30.32 in Hg. Tide was forecast high at 5.6 ft at 12:10 PM; Charleston harbor tide hit 6.42 ft at 12:48 PM.  <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3
81 species (+1 other taxa)

Gadwall  261     Scope views of most. A moderately reasonable estimate/count.
American Wigeon  32
American Black Duck  2
Mottled Duck  4
Blue-winged Teal  80
Northern Shoveler  200     A possible under estimate/count.
Northern Pintail  1
Green-winged Teal  155
Canvasback  4
Redhead  26     A fairly accurate count. Scope views.
Lesser Scaup  56
Bufflehead  146     An estimate.
Hooded Merganser  92     A conservative estimate.
Red-breasted Merganser  1
Ruddy Duck  254     Jsck's Creek and Upper Summerhouse Pond. Scope views of most.
Common Loon  2
Pied-billed Grebe  79     Highly abundant throughout the island.
Horned Grebe  12     2 actually on Jack's Creek, the rest in the tidal salt marsh.
Wood Stork  1
Northern Gannet  18
Double-crested Cormorant  119
Anhinga  2
American White Pelican  21
Brown Pelican  43
Great Blue Heron  12
Great Egret  18
Snowy Egret  56     Both widely scattered and a few large congregations.
Little Blue Heron  8
Tricolored Heron  23     Widely dispersed.
Black-crowned Night-Heron  8
White Ibis  56
Glossy Ibis  1
Turkey Vulture  6
Northern Harrier  1
Cooper's Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Clapper Rail  8
Common Gallinule  34
American Coot  86
American Oystercatcher  13
Grey Plover  5
Semipalmated Plover  60
Piping Plover  1     No apparent leg bands or flags.
Killdeer  2
Greater Yellowlegs  15
Willet  28
Ruddy Turnstone  12
Sanderling  24     A surprisingly low count.
Dunlin  808     A reasonably accurate count.
Western Sandpiper  2
Short-billed Dowitcher  6
Wilson's Snipe  1
Laughing Gull  63
Ring-billed Gull  9
Herring Gull  1
Forster's Tern  15
Royal Tern  1
Great Horned Owl  2     Hooting at Garris Landing as the sun set.
Belted Kingfisher  10
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  2
Eastern Phoebe  3
Blue Jay  8
American Crow  2
crow sp.  8
Tree Swallow  3
Carolina Wren  1
Grey Catbird  2
Brown Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  5
Common Yellowthroat  2
Palm Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  19
Eastern Towhee  1
Chipping Sparrow  5
Savannah Sparrow  5
Song Sparrow  2
Swamp Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  1
Northern Cardinal  2
Red-winged Blackbird  30
Boat-tailed Grackle  13

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20713363

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)