Birding observations from the ongoing USF&WS Cape Romain NWR Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey, from Christmas and Spring Bird Counts, and from other surveys and outings.
20 February 2014
Th 20 Feb 2014 survey
Th 20 Feb 2014
It was a beautiful day on Bulls today, even with the fog that just wouldn't go away even in high wind. Sarah carted me out there and Greg brought me back--thanks to both.
Both waterfowl and shorebirds continue in good numbers: 47 target species, 80 species overall; eBird report appended, below. I had good counts of Northern Pintail, Green-winged Teal, Redhead, Greater Scaup, Ruddy Duck, Piping Plover, Sanderling, Dunlin, and Short-billed Dowitcher. Also Canvasback and American White Pelican continue. Of particular note otherwise, I had a Great Black-backed Gull (in Bulls Bay, not on the island), an Orange-crowned Warbler, and my best ever view of a Sedge Wren posing and calling just feet away in perfect light.
Gulls and terns were few and far between compared to many surveys. Misses included Bald Eagle. The north beach continues to disappoint this winter. I was almost skunked on avian species there; several small flocks of Dunlin flew by, otherwise there was one American Oystercatcher, three Black-bellied Plover, six Ruddy Turnstone, and five Sanderling. Today's tide was very moderate, but I'm still trying to figure out why the last two winters were so productive there and this one so poor.
The water level at Jack's Creek has dropped just a bit (it's a big pond to drain through one trunk!) and the water at Upper Summerhouse Pond (USP) has dropped below the water level gauge! This (USP) was by design to expose mudflats and attract shorebirds, and it worked! There was a large mixed flock of shorebirds at Upper Summerhouse Pond and the waterfowl continue as well. Greg put one riser board back into the trunk draining USP to stop the draining and to collect some of the rain forecast for tomorrow (they're still trying to lower the salinity there).
I saw three fox squirrels (Dan, one was immediately behind the Dominick House, one was on Beach Road immediately beyond House Pond, and one was on Summerhouse Road between the cemetery and USP). I also photographed some canine tracks (clearly showing toenails) in the dunes at the north beach; the prints were approximately 60 mm long and 45 mm wide. Don't know if that suggests fox or coyote.
Looking ahead at the tide calendar, favorable tides for the next survey appear to fall on Wednesday 5 March 2014 (5.0 ft tide at 10:44 AM). Stay tuned.
Cape Romain NWR--BullsIsland, Charleston, US-SC Feb 20, 2014 7:45 AM - 4:22 PM Protocol: Traveling 19.0 mile(s) Comments: Conducting the ongoing BullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. Effort: 4.15 mi (one way) and 30 min by boat plus 11.0 mi and 2 hr by vehicle plus 3.8 mi and 6 hr by foot. Weather: heavy fog in early AM that variously cleared then returned through the day; otherwise mostly sunny; temps 58 F to 73 F; early AM winds calm; late AM and PM winds SW at 10 mph to 20 mph with gusts to 30 mph. <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3 80 species (+2 other taxa)
Gadwall 22 American Wigeon 39 American Black Duck 6 Mallard 2 Mottled Duck 4 American Black/Mottled Duck 6 Large dark ducks seen in silhouette. Unable to distinguish between American Black Duck and Mottled Duck. Blue-winged Teal 3 Northern Shoveler 18 Northern Pintail 10 Green-winged Teal 64 Canvasback 2 Redhead 70 In mixed flocks with Lesser Scaup, American Coot, Canvasback, and others. Greater Scaup 6 Round green head, bright white sides, fat cheeks. Seen in good light in the company of Lesser Scaup for direct comparison. Lesser Scaup 200 A conservative estimate. Bufflehead 32 Hooded Merganser 7 Red-breasted Merganser 6 Ruddy Duck 255 A conservative estimate. duck sp. 100 Large flock that flushed as I drove up and before I could focus optics on them. Pied-billed Grebe 42 Horned Grebe 6 Double-crested Cormorant 16 Anhinga 1 American White Pelican 21 Brown Pelican 3 Great Blue Heron 7 Great Egret 47 Snowy Egret 30 Little Blue Heron 6 Tricolored Heron 3 Black-crowned Night-Heron 4 White Ibis 32 Turkey Vulture 11 Northern Harrier 1 Red-shouldered Hawk 1 Common Gallinule 30 American Coot 230 American Oystercatcher 7 Grey Plover 29 Semipalmated Plover 24 Piping Plover 4 None appeared to be banded Killdeer 19 Greater Yellowlegs 22 Willet 16 Lesser Yellowlegs 10 Marbled Godwit 1 Ruddy Turnstone 28 Mostly on the beach. Sanderling 405 Two large groupings. Dunlin 1736 A conservative estimate. Western Sandpiper 33 Short-billed Dowitcher 106 A conservative estimate. Bonaparte's Gull 1 Laughing Gull 1 Ring-billed Gull 7 Herring Gull 1 Great Black-backed Gull 1 Forster's Tern 14 Mourning Dove 3 Belted Kingfisher 4 Red-bellied Woodpecker 2 Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1 Pileated Woodpecker 1 Eastern Phoebe 4 Tree Swallow 1 Sedge Wren 1 Carolina Wren 2 Golden-crowned Kinglet 1 Northern Mockingbird 2 Cedar Waxwing 4 Orange-crowned Warbler 1 Common Yellowthroat 1 Pine Warbler 7 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 40 Eastern Towhee 2 Savannah Sparrow 1 Song Sparrow 1 Swamp Sparrow 1 White-throated Sparrow 1 Northern Cardinal 2 Red-winged Blackbird 46 Eastern Meadowlark 7 Boat-tailed Grackle 31