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 March 2014
Th 20 Mar 2014 survey
Th 20 Mar 2014
Pat Campbell and Cherrie Sneed helped me today with the ongoing BullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. We had a great day to be on the island (I wouldn't recognize a bad day to be on Bulls if it introduced itself to me) and enjoyed saluting the spring equinox today at 12:57 PM. The Coastal Expeditions folks, Chris Crolley, Gates Roll, new naturalist Olivia, and new captain whose name I can't recall (apologies!), treated us very well. They had large numbers of customers plus a charter group today, so they were busy.
Waterfowl remain in good numbers across the island, though there were a few misses compared to recent outings, including American Wigeon, Hooded Mergansers, Redhead, and Canvasback. We were challenged to tally shorebirds today as a team of S.C. DNR biologists had set up a cannon net on the low dune line at the oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek in an attempt to net, band, and release shorebirds. Fortunately for our count many of the shorebirds appeared to be pushed up and down the beach where we were able see many of them. There were a few Piping Plovers remaining; of the many Dunlin seen, a very few were beginning to show the first signs of body molt into breeding plumage. We also tallied the FOS Wilson's Plover (North Beach) and Black-necked Stilts (in Upper Summerhouse Pond). Best sighting of the day may have been a tight raft of 57 Red-breasted Mergansers (including only about 5 males with the rest females) on Jack's Creek. My eBird check list for the outing is appended below, FYI.
Non avian sightings on the day included several bottle-nosed dolphin in Bulls Bay, two fox squirrels (one on Sheepshead Ridge Road going to the observation platform plus one on Mill Road behind the Lower Summerhouse Pond), and numerous canine tracks in the dunes along the North Beach (just tracks, no actual canines sighted). Back on Tuesday 4 Mar 2014 it was too cold for the alligators to be out but they were out in high numbers today. After all..it was the spring equinox.
Dan, the water level gauge data on Jack's Creek (4.34) and Upper Summerhouse Pond (3.68) are up just a bit from two weeks ago (4.18 and 3.36, respectively). USHP didn't look as dour as you suggested it might; most of the discoloration, to my eye, was in the southwestern-most corner where the dike meets the tree line going towards Mill Road.
Looking at the tide calendar suggests the following dates to consider for the next survey:
Tu 1 Apr 2014 high tide 5.4 ft at 9:45 AM
W 2 Apr 2014 high tide 5.2 ft at 10:30 AM
Th 3 Apr 2014 high tide 4.9 ft at 11:15 AM
Stay tuned for further plans.
Cape Romain NWR--BullsIsland, Charleston, US-SC Mar 20, 2014 8:40 AM - 4:40 PM Protocol: Traveling 17.6 mile(s) Comments: Conducting the ongoingBullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. Effort: 4.15 mi and 1 hr by ferry plus 11.4 mi and 2 hr by vehicle plus 2.1 mi and 5 hr by foot. Weather: sunny and cool; temps 48 F to 68 F: AM winds W to NW at 5 mph with gusts to 10 mph, PM winds SE at 5 mph with gusts to 10 mph. <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3 74 species Gadwall 5 American Black Duck 4 Mottled Duck 11 Blue-winged Teal 52 Northern Shoveler 130 All over theisland. Northern Pintail 1 Green-winged Teal 55 Mostly in Upper Summerhouse Pond. Lesser Scaup 9 Black Scoter 25 A fly-by line plus several floating beyond the breakers. Bufflehead 47 Few than expected. Hooded Merganser 6 Red-breasted Merganser 61 Mainly in one tight raft of 57 on Jack's Pond; seen in good light, counted this raft twice to assure accuracy. . Ruddy Duck 68 Fewer than expected. Red-throated Loon 2 Common Loon 4 Pied-billed Grebe 52 Many seen all over theisland. Horned Grebe 9 1 on Jack's Creek, the rest inBullsBay. Wood Stork 1 Double-crested Cormorant 119 American White Pelican 26 Brown Pelican 52 Great Blue Heron 17 Great Egret 28 Snowy Egret 41 Little Blue Heron 3 Tricolored Heron 5 Black-crowned Night-Heron 16 White Ibis 82 Glossy Ibis 14 Turkey Vulture 10 Northern Harrier 2 Bald Eagle 1 Clapper Rail 1 Common Gallinule 16 American Coot 210 A fairly reasonable count estimate. Black-necked Stilt 2 American Oystercatcher 29 Grey Plover 7 Wilson's Plover 2 Semipalmated Plover 55 Piping Plover 3 None appeared to have leg bands. Killdeer 12 Greater Yellowlegs 5 Willet 10 Lesser Yellowlegs 10 Marbled Godwit 1 Ruddy Turnstone 8 Red Knot 2 Sanderling 90 Mostly in a mixed flock with Dunlin. Dunlin 1000 Seen in two separate, large flights. Western Sandpiper 3 Short-billed Dowitcher 101 1 on the North Beach, the rest estimated from 1 large bind that flushed from the edge if the ICWW and that flew to a nearby dock for high tide roosting. Bonaparte's Gull 2 Laughing Gull 14 Ring-billed Gull 20 Herring Gull 15 Forster's Tern 55 Mourning Dove 3 Belted Kingfisher 3 Blue Jay 2 Tree Swallow 40 Barn Swallow 7 Carolina Wren 1 Blue-grey Gnatcatcher 3 American Robin 1 Northern Mockingbird 4 Northern Parula 2 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 24 Eastern Towhee 1 Savannah Sparrow 4 Song Sparrow 1 Swamp Sparrow 2 Red-winged Blackbird 80 Boat-tailed Grackle 5 View this checklist online athttp://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17528861 This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)