Rob Dillon and I conducted today's waterfowl/shorebirdsurvey on BullsIsland. The winds were howling out of the NE keeping the tides high and making me glad that I was wearing my winter coat. Coastal Expeditions owner (and Captain, today) Chris Crolley, Captain Richard, and Naturalist/First Mate Olivia graciously hauled us out to the island and back. We had a FULL ferry on the ride out, the maximum number of bodies that the ferry was licensed to carry! Very glad that we were able to legally catch our ride out. Many thanks, CEX!
The bird of the day has to have been a Pectoral Sandpiper seen on the Upper Summerhouse Pond. I've never recorded a Pectoral Sandpiper on Bulls before. eBird lists three reports for "Cape Romain NWR -- Bull Island:" 10 from 30 July 2001, 1 from 29 April 2002, and 3 from 25 August 2003, all reported by Jim Cubie. I suspect that these reports predate this survey, so possibly a new species for the survey.
Ducks that remain included 1 Green-winged Teal and 2 Red-breasted Mergansers (both seen just outside of the official count area), Lesser Scaup, Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Blue-winged Teal, and Black Scoter (including one on Jack's Creek). We had 2 Horned Grebes in the Bulls Bay marshes (1 HOGR in winter plumage and 1 well into breeding plumage).
Shorebirds included many Black-necked Stilt, American Oystercatcher, Whimbrel(just outside of the count area), and Red Knot. We also had a pair of Caspian Terns, a Sandwich Tern, Bonaparte's Gulls, and Gull-billed Terns (again, just outside of the count area).
Notable misses included: Northern Shoveler, Pied-billed Grebe, Wood Stork, American White Pelican, Great Blue Heron, Wilson's Plover, and Piping Plover. Our eBird checklist is appended, below. 42 target species, 69 species on the whole day.
Non avian sightings included bottle-nosed dolphin, the caterpillar stage of a Black Swallowtail butterfly (I think), and 2 fox squirrels (Mill Road just S of Beach Road). Since Rob is a malacologist, he went looking for fresh water snails (his main interest). He was very pleased to find a tiny little limpet (Ferrissia fragile), and a tiny snail called Physa carolinae(Wethington, Wise, and Dillon 2009). That means that he found the snail species that he and his colleagues first described and, thus, named! Pretty cool!
Looking at the tidal calendar suggests the following favorable date for our next survey:
Fri 2 May 2014 (high tide of 4.7 ft at 10:47 AM)
Stay tuned for further plans.
Cape Romain NWR--BullsIsland, Charleston, US-SC Apr 18, 2014 8:30 AM - 4:15 PM Protocol: Traveling 17.5 mile(s) Comments: Conducting the ongoingBullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. Effort: 4.15 mi (one way) and 60 min by ferry plus 11.6 mi and 2 hr by truck plus 1.75 mi and 4 hr 45 min by foot. Weather: overcast, cool, and windy; temps 55 F to 62 F; strong and steady winds NE at 10 mph to 20 mph with PM gusts to 25 mph. <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3 69 species (+2 other taxa) Canada Goose 5 Mottled Duck 9 Blue-winged Teal 80 Green-winged Teal 1 Scope view. Lesser Scaup 4 Black Scoter 3 1 female on Jack's Creek (compared directly and side by side with a Ruddy Duck) plus 2 (1 male plus 1 female) in the breakers off the North Beach. Bufflehead 6 Scope views on Jack's Creek. Red-breasted Merganser 2 Ruddy Duck 2 One side by side comparison with a female Black Scoter. duck sp. 13 Horned Grebe 2 InBullsBay marshes. One still in winter plumage, one well into breeding plumage. Double-crested Cormorant 90 One large flock in ICWW plus many scattered across Jack's Creek. Anhinga 1 Brown Pelican 19 Great Egret 4 Snowy Egret 19 Little Blue Heron 1 Tricolored Heron 17 Green Heron 2 Black-crowned Night-Heron 5 White Ibis 50 Glossy Ibis 23 Turkey Vulture 5 Osprey 2 Northern Harrier 1 1 fem Bald Eagle 1 1 mat Sora 1 Common Gallinule 11 American Coot 3 Black-necked Stilt 28 Most in Upper Summerhouse Pond. American Oystercatcher 21 InBullsBay marshes and around Jack's Creek. Grey Plover 21 Semipalmated Plover 28 Killdeer 1 Spotted Sandpiper 1 Greater Yellowlegs 1 Willet 18 Lesser Yellowlegs 46 Whimbrel 16 Ruddy Turnstone 28 In beachfront marsh and beachfront. Red Knot 12 Sanderling 119 Dunlin 326 Pectoral Sandpiper 1 Scope view. Western Sandpiper 1 peep sp. 5 Peeps at great distance. Short-billed Dowitcher 88 Bonaparte's Gull 2 Laughing Gull 24 Ring-billed Gull 23 Herring Gull 4 Gull-billed Tern 2 Caspian Tern 2 Forster's Tern 35 Royal Tern 64 Sandwich Tern 1 Mourning Dove 2 Belted Kingfisher 3 Great Crested Flycatcher 1 Eastern Kingbird 1 Tree Swallow 400 Widely scattered across all impoundments, most across Upper Summerhouse Pond. Barn Swallow 2 Marsh Wren 2 Northern Mockingbird 1 Northern Parula 1 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 4 Molting into breeding plumage. Savannah Sparrow 2 Northern Cardinal 1 Indigo Bunting 2 Red-winged Blackbird 100 Boat-tailed Grackle 20 View this checklist online athttp://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17952604 This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)
Rich McCracken and I conducted the ongoing BullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey today. Captain Dan and First Mate/Naturalist Olivia of the Coastal Expeditions Ferry Caretta graciously hauled us over to the island and back and set us up with "ground transportation" on the island. CEX's naturalist Gates also helped us with a snake ID (a "Florida cottonmouth" that we saw on the dike at Jack's Creek just past the turnoff to the North Beach).
We had 42 target species on the survey proper, 76 species on the whole day's outing (eBird checklist appended). Many of the waterfowl species have flown onward while a few of the shorebirds were showing early signs of body molt into breeding plumage. Highlight species included American Bittern, Swallow-tailed Kite (flying over the North Beach), Black-necked Stilt, high numbers of Black-bellied Plover (aka "Grey Plover" as eBird insists on calling them), Wilson's Plover, Red Knot, and Dark-eyed Junco. Misses include Piping Plover, Bald Eagle, Tree Swallow, Carolina Wren, and Yellow-rumped Warbler. A few other summer residents/migrants apparently have not yet shown up including Great-crested Flycatcher, Gull-billed Tern, Least Tern, Black Tern, Ruby-throated Hummingbird; I expect these to arrive soon.
The water in Jack's has risen (two weeks ago at 4.34, today at 4.83) and now spills over the highest riser board in the trunk. The water in Upper Summerhouse Pond has also risen (two weeks ago at 3.68, today at 4.13) but still has another riser board to climb before it begins spilling. Both of these impoundments still have exposed mud along edges and some shallows favored by some of the shorebirds. All other impoundments are maintaining a relatively high water level by eye.
Non-avian species included Fox Squirrel (1 on Mill Road, 1 on Summerhouse Pond Road), American alligator, bottle-nosed dolphin, Florida cottonmouth, a not-yet-identified dragonfly species, and a not-yet-identified frog species. Mosquitos also were waiting in the lee side of the trees and enjoyed riding in the bed of the pick up truck; fortunately the winds were sufficient to keep them mostly hunkered down.
Looking forward towards the next survey, the tides look favorable on these dates:
Fri 18 Apr 2014 high tide 4.9 ft at 10:30 AM
Sat 19 Apr 2014 high tide 4.8 ft at 11:18 AM
Stay tuned for further plans.
Cape Romain NWR--BullsIsland, Charleston, US-SC Apr 3, 2014 8:40 AM - 2:15 PM Protocol: Traveling 13.5 mile(s) Comments: Conducting the ongoingBullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. Effort: 4.15 mi (one way) and 45 min by ferry plus 11.5 mi and 2 hr by truck plus 2.0 mi and 5 hr 15 min by foot. Weather: sunny, warm, and windy; temps 64 F to 78 F; AM winds SW at 5 mph to 10 mph, PM winds SW at 15 mph with gusts to 25 mph. <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3 76 species American Black Duck 2 Mottled Duck 6 Blue-winged Teal 55 Northern Shoveler 56 Many on Upper Summerhouse Pond. Green-winged Teal 6 Lesser Scaup 25 On the ocean-front marsh at Jack's Creek. Black Scoter 10 Excellent scope views of these dark sea ducks floating just beyond the breakers on the North Beach. Bufflehead 2 Red-breasted Merganser 6 Ruddy Duck 7 On Jack's Creek. Common Loon 1 Pied-billed Grebe 4 Horned Grebe 6 Mostly in the marshes between the landings. Wood Stork 7 Double-crested Cormorant 44 Anhinga 4 American White Pelican 1 Brown Pelican 47 American Bittern 1 Great Blue Heron 14 Great Egret 34 Snowy Egret 35 Little Blue Heron 3 Tricolored Heron 8 Green Heron 3 Black-crowned Night-Heron 8 White Ibis 1 Glossy Ibis 17 Black Vulture 4 Turkey Vulture 16 Osprey 1 Swallow-tailed Kite 1 Northern Harrier 3 Clapper Rail 1 Common Gallinule 26 American Coot 60 In many different impoundments. Black-necked Stilt 9 American Oystercatcher 4 Grey Plover 246 A few showing early body molt into breeding plumage. Wilson's Plover 8 Semipalmated Plover 4 Killdeer 1 Greater Yellowlegs 12 Willet 73 All across the marshes and theisland. Lesser Yellowlegs 18 Ruddy Turnstone 7 Red Knot 50 Sanderling 18 Dunlin 367 A rare few showing early body molt into breeding plumage. Short-billed Dowitcher 80 Bonaparte's Gull 1 Laughing Gull 36 Ring-billed Gull 8 Herring Gull 1 Forster's Tern 21 Royal Tern 22 Mourning Dove 4 Belted Kingfisher 5 Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 Fish Crow 1 Barn Swallow 3 Tufted Titmouse 4 Marsh Wren 4 Blue-grey Gnatcatcher 2 Northern Mockingbird 4 Common Yellowthroat 1 Northern Parula 1 Palm Warbler 1 Pine Warbler 1 Savannah Sparrow 2 Song Sparrow 1 Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored) 1 Along the dike road directly in front of the truck. Northern Cardinal 4 Red-winged Blackbird 20 Eastern Meadowlark 3 Boat-tailed Grackle 75 View this checklist online athttp://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S17732708 This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)