I had a great day on BullsIsland today conducting the waterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. Captain Richard and First Mate Olivia of CEX's BullsIsland Ferry were gracious and helpful to haul me out there, set me up with a truck, and then to haul me all the way back at the end of the day. There was only 0.02 in of rain that fell from about 1 PM till about 2:30 PM--it was just barely enough to force me to put on a rain jacket, mostly because it was threatening to become steadier. Clouds and fairly moderate temperatures kept the day's weather otherwise very tolerable.
I tallied 42 target species on the survey proper and 61 species overall (full eBird checklist is appended, below), though counts of total individuals was down somewhat (727 individuals) compared to most outings. In short, pretty good variety but overall numbers somewhat lower than recent.
I had advance word of both Reddish Egret (got it on the North Beach) and Purple Gallinule (missed it in its reported location in Lower Summerhouse Pond along Beach Road). I'll keep looking for the PUGA. (Interestingly a PUGA has also been recently reported from Caw Caw; perhaps there's a minor PUGA irruption ongoing.)
Species of the day has to be a new one for the survey and perhaps a new species for the island: Black-bellied Whistling-Duck! I had 27 calmly sitting in the small impoundment wedged between the Boneyard, Moccasin Pond, and Jack's Creek (I can't recall the name of this impoundment--help me, Dan? It shares a trunk with Jack's where you take the "second" water quality data for Jack's.). Just outside of the survey area! Not to worry, as it happens, as I later had 5 more BBWD on the wing flying out of the Upper Summerhouse Pond! BBWD officially on the survey!
Other notable avian sightings included: Red-breasted Merganser (in the saltwater marshes between landings), juvenile Common Gallinules, American Coot, Black Tern, Sandwich Tern, and Black Scoter. Shorebird numbers were overall down (1 Dunlin and no yellowlegs, Black-bellied Plover, or Red Knot, e.g.), though I had almost 70 peeps some of which I could ID as Western Sandpiper, some of which I couldn't distinguish Western Sandpiper versus Semipalmated Sandpiper. That's often a tough ID to make--I'm working hard on the peeps.
Non avian sightings included fox squirrels (1 in the yard/picnic grounds plus 1 along Beach Road in the AM plus 2 in the yard about 3:30 PM), white-tailed deer, bottle-nosed dolphin, and several alligators.
Looking forward at the tide chart suggests the following dates to consider for the next survey:
Sat 14 July 2014 high tide 5.1 ft at 9:12 AM
Mon 16 July 2014 high tide 5.2 ft at 11:04 AM
Tues 17 July 2014 high tide 5.2 ft at 12:03 PM
Stay tuned for further plans.
Cape Romain NWR--BullsIsland, Charleston, US-SC May 30, 2014 8:45 AM - 4:03 PM Protocol: Traveling 17.649 mile(s) Comments: Conducting the ongoingBullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. Effort: 4.15 mi and 30 min by ferry plus 11.5 mi and 2 hr by vehicle plus 2 mi and 4 hr 48 min by foot. Weather: AM bright overcast, PM partly sunny to overcast with 0.02 in rain between 1300 and 1430; temps 73 F to 79 F; winds SE and light at < 19 mph with gusts to 15 mph. <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3 61 species (+1 other taxa) Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 32 An accurate count. Mallard 2 Mottled Duck 20 Black Scoter 3 Scope views of 1 male (dark scoter with yellow-orange bill) in surf off North Beach plus a male-female pair on the main beachfront (male with yellow-orange bill, female with light cheek patch). Red-breasted Merganser 2 In salt marsh. Serrated bill, white speculum. Double-crested Cormorant 10 Anhinga 8 Brown Pelican 32 Least Bittern 2 Great Blue Heron 3 Great Egret 52 Snowy Egret 90 Little Blue Heron 1 Tricolored Heron 21 Reddish Egret 1 Cattle Egret 2 Green Heron 11 Black-crowned Night-Heron 4 White Ibis 24 Glossy Ibis 13 Turkey Vulture 2 Clapper Rail 1 Common Gallinule 27 Count includes 11 juveniles. American Coot 2 Scope view. Dark rail with white bill. Black-necked Stilt 46 Seen wading and flying, heard calling. American Oystercatcher 2 Wilson's Plover 2 Semipalmated Plover 19 Killdeer 1 Spotted Sandpiper 1 Willet 6 Ruddy Turnstone 4 Dunlin 1 Breeding plumage-very dark belly. Western Sandpiper 38 Many peeps, several IDed as WESA based on slightly decurved tip of bill. peep sp. 30 Unable to distinguish between WESA and SESA. Many appeared NOT to have decurved tip of bill. Short-billed Dowitcher 15 Laughing Gull 96 Ring-billed Gull 9 Least Tern 21 Gull-billed Tern 7 Black Tern 9 Forster's Tern 33 Royal Tern 85 Sandwich Tern 11 Black Skimmer 93 Mourning Dove 7 Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1 Pileated Woodpecker 1 Great Crested Flycatcher 3 White-eyed Vireo 1 Barn Swallow 6 Marsh Wren 5 Carolina Wren 3 Northern Mockingbird 10 Northern Parula 1 Pine Warbler 1 Summer Tanager 1 Northern Cardinal 4 Blue Grosbeak 1 Painted Bunting 3 Red-winged Blackbird 31 Boat-tailed Grackle 30 View this checklist online athttp://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18627406 This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)
This Friday past (16 May 2014) Kathy Greider and Grant Greider joined me on BullsIsland for the ongoingwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. We caught the 9:00 AM CEX ferry out; Captain Richard Stuhr and First Mate/Naturalist Olivia graciously hauled us out to the island and back through an exceptionally low tide. I saw exposed mudflats where I knew them to be but had never before seen them. Captain Richard passed that "trial by fire" (maybe better "trial by low water") with aplomb. CEX had a busy day beyond the scheduled regular ferry service with a chartered school group and their monthly weekend overnight customers.
We were able to share scope views of our last two birds on the day (simultaneously some of our best birds of the day) on Upper Summerhouse Pond with the overnighters: Ruddy Ducks (2 males in breeding plumage plus 1 female--I now know why they're AKA blue bills) and a Greater Scaup (female). Other notable sightings included an American Black Duck (distinctly violet speculum lacking any white borders and overall very dark), FOS Black Terns, many hundreds of Royal Terns and Black Skimmers, Black Scoters, Red-breasted Mergansers, many Anhingas, Red Knot, and all three peep sandpipers.
Both Jack's Creek and Upper Summerhouse Pond are maintaining high water levels and, therefore, few shorebirds. The newly opened inlet at the oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek remains and is keeping that water low, however the shorebirds there were not as numerous as usual.
Non avian sightings on the day included bottle-nosed dolphin, fox squirrel (1 along Summerhouse Pond Road), many dragonflies, and the usual bevy of American alligators. Recently reported avian species that we did not see included Roseate Spoonbill and Reddish Egret (we'll look again next survey). We also missed seeing Bald Eagle. :-( My eBird checklist on the day's outing is appended, below, FYI.
Looking ahead at the tide calendar suggests the following dates for our next survey:
Friday 30 May 2014 high tide 4.7 ft at 9:38 AM
Saturday 31 May 2014 high tide 4.5 ft at 10:20 AM
Monday 2 June 2014 high tide 4.3 ft at 11:47 AM
Tuesday 3 June 2014 high tide 4.3 ft at 12:33 PM
Stay tuned for further plans.
Cape Romain NWR--BullsIsland, Charleston, US-SC May 16, 2014 8:35 AM - 3:35 PM Protocol: Traveling 16.249 mile(s) Comments: Conducting the ongoingBullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. Effort: 4.15 mi (one way) and 30 min by ferry plus 9.0 mi and 2 hr by vehicle plus 3.1 mi and 4 hr 30 min by foot. Weather: fully overcast early very quickly clearing to partly cloudy then to mostly clear; 58 F to 73 F; winds NW at 10 mph with gusts to 15 mph then shifting about 2:00 PM to S winds at 10 mph to 20 mph. High tide was forecast 5.0 ft at 9:28 AM, low tide -0.5 ft at 3:37 PM. <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3 70 species (+1 other taxa) American Black Duck 1 Very dark, speculum strongly violet rather than blue, no white margins to speculum. Mottled Duck 14 Greater Scaup 1 Female, scope view, well rounded head, fat (puffy) cheeks when in back profile. Black Scoter 15 Scope views just off the back side of theislandintoBullsBay. Red-breasted Merganser 3 In the salt water marshes ofBullsBay between landings. A group of 2 plus a singlet seen. Ruddy Duck 3 2 males in breeding plumage plus 1 female. Scope views shared with many. Double-crested Cormorant 13 Anhinga 11 American White Pelican 2 Brown Pelican 18 Least Bittern 3 Great Blue Heron 4 Great Egret 24 Snowy Egret 50 Little Blue Heron 1 Tricolored Heron 13 Green Heron 7 Black-crowned Night-Heron 4 White Ibis 48 Glossy Ibis 6 Black Vulture 1 Turkey Vulture 4 Osprey 4 Clapper Rail 1 Common Gallinule 12 Black-necked Stilt 26 Fairly accurate count. American Oystercatcher 6 Grey Plover 11 Wilson's Plover 4 Semipalmated Plover 61 Spotted Sandpiper 1 Greater Yellowlegs 10 Willet 28 Whimbrel 24 Mostly in theBullsBay marshes. Marbled Godwit 1 Ruddy Turnstone 16 Clear scope views, unmistakable plumage patterns. Red Knot 75 Scope views. Dunlin 110 A likely under count. Most well into breeding plumage. Least Sandpiper 4 Semipalmated Sandpiper 45 Western Sandpiper 2 peep sp. 40 Unable to distinguish between Western Sandpiper and Semipalmated Sandpiper as these flushed to wing at distance before full ID. Short-billed Dowitcher 39 Laughing Gull 64 Ring-billed Gull 3 Herring Gull 1 Least Tern 21 Gull-billed Tern 4 Black Tern 10 Forster's Tern 14 Royal Tern 772 Estimated 700 resting beachfront. Several pairs observed mating. Sandwich Tern 8 Black Skimmer 527 Estimated 450 resting (many loafing) beachfront. Mourning Dove 5 Yellow-billed Cuckoo 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker 2 Great Crested Flycatcher 2 Eastern Kingbird 1 Fish Crow 1 Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1 Barn Swallow 6 Marsh Wren 3 Brown Thrasher 2 Northern Mockingbird 1 Seaside Sparrow 2 Northern Cardinal 2 Painted Bunting 2 Bobolink 1 Red-winged Blackbird 75 Boat-tailed Grackle 25 Orchard Oriole 1 View this checklist online athttp://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18445983 This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)
I had a great day on BullsIsland today for the ongoing waterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. CEX's owner and Captain Chris Crolley graciously hauled me out to the island along with only three other folks. Because he wasn't sure that he'd have customers staying until the 4:00 PM ferry, I hustled through the survey sites to meet the 1:00 PM ferry and was able to cover almost all of the impoundments. Fortunately it wasn't hot as I didn't even stop long enough for a drink of water until I got back on the ferry to leave.
44 target species on the day's survey, 71 species overall. My eBird checklist is appended, below. Not bad for an abbreviated survey. Good finds on the day included a Greater Scaup, several Least Bitterns, a Cattle Egret, Wood Stork, Piping Plover, Wilson's Plover, Marbled Godwit, Black Scoter, Bonaparte's Gull, Red-breasted Merganser, Horned Grebe, plus MANY Black-bellied Plover, Semipalmated Plover, Dunlin, Spotted Sandpiper, and Short-billed Dowitcher.
Misses (not yet arrived? simply missed?) include Gull-billed Terns, Stilt Sandpiper, Western Sandpiper, Black Tern, and Red Knot.
Non-avian sightings included alligators by the score, white-tailed deer, eastern pondhawks (dragonflies), butterflies (primarily palamedes swallowtails, I believe), loggerhead sea turtle (its head popped up in front of the ferry), bottle-nosed dolphin, mosquitos, and love bugs (flying solo not coupled).
One of the best areas today, no surprise because it's almost always very good for shorebirds, was the oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek. It had a very large mixed flock of shorebirds, primarily Dunlin, Semipalmated Plover, and Short-billed Dowitcher, many of which were well advanced in their molting into breeding plumage. Very surprising, though, was the fact that this marsh had VERY LOW water levels. I finally found why: the low dune line separating the marsh from the beachfront and the ocean has been breached and the marsh largely drained straight into the ocean!
On the other hand, recent rains (1.27 inches in just the last couple of days) have raised Jack's Creek (from 4.70 to 5.12 on the water level gauge in two weeks) until it is now spilling over the highest riser and Upper Summerhouse Pond has risen (4.10 to 4.62) and is at the very top of the riser board at the trunk leading to the salt marsh. In both impoundments previously exposed mudflats are now completely flooded again and appear too deep for most shorebirds.
Dan and Greg (the USF&WS biologist and maintenance guy, respectively) were busy today spraying the impoundments with herbicides attempting to knock down the invasive Phragmites, and there were volunteers cutting the lawn and painting the Dominick House (by hand with real brushes no less!).. Many of the grassy roads have been mown recently and look good.
Looking forward at the tide calendar suggest the following dates to consider for our next survey:
Friday 16 May 2014 high tide 5.0 ft at 9:28 AM
Saturday 17 May 2014 high tide 5.0 ft at 10:19 AM
Monday 19 May 2014 high tide 5.0 ft at 12:11 PM
Stay tuned for the next announcement.
Cape Romain NWR--BullsIsland, Charleston, US-SC May 2, 2014 8:30 AM - 2:15 PM Protocol: Traveling 15.15 mile(s) Comments: Conducting the ongoingBullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. Effort: 4.15 mi (one way) and 1 hr by ferry plus 8.5 mi and 1 hr by vehicle plus 3.0 mi and 3 hr 45 min by foot. Weather: bright overcast; temps 63 °F to 65 °F; winds NW shifting to NE at < 5 mph. High tide (4.7 ft forecast) was at 10:47 AM. 71 species Mottled Duck 5 Blue-winged Teal 20 Red-breasted Merganser 4 Oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek. Scope views. Horned Grebe 3 Two well into breeding plumage, one not. In the marshes between Garris Landing andBullsIsland. Wood Stork 8 Double-crested Cormorant 27 Anhinga 1 American White Pelican 1 Brown Pelican 13 Least Bittern 5 Great Blue Heron 3 Great Egret 38 Snowy Egret 80 Tricolored Heron 8 Cattle Egret 1 Green Heron 9 Black-crowned Night-Heron 5 White Ibis 36 Glossy Ibis 5 Black Vulture 2 Turkey Vulture 3 Bald Eagle 2 Sora 2 Common Gallinule 5 American Coot 1 Black-necked Stilt 27 Very likely a low estimate of the overall real number of BNST as the biologist and maintenance guys were working deep IN the impoundments and reported very many. American Oystercatcher 7 Grey Plover 106 In broad ranges of molting into breeding plumage. Wilson's Plover 4 Semipalmated Plover 900 Oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek. A main part of a very largeshorebirdgathering. Piping Plover 5 None appeared to have leg bands. Killdeer 1 Spotted Sandpiper 20 Greater Yellowlegs 1 Willet 15 Lesser Yellowlegs 17 Whimbrel 16 Flying and resting all through the marshes between landings. Marbled Godwit 2 Ruddy Turnstone 9 Sanderling 60 Resting in the oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek amongst large mixed flock of shorebirds. Dunlin 920 Most well into molt into breeding plumage. Least Sandpiper 15 Semipalmated Sandpiper 50 Short-billed Dowitcher 800 Most showing red breeding plumage. Many resting, many actively feeding in the oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek plus several in the marshes between landings. Bonaparte's Gull 1 Laughing Gull 38 Herring Gull 1 Least Tern 10 Forster's Tern 20 Royal Tern 11 Black Skimmer 2 Mourning Dove 12 Great Horned Owl 1 Belted Kingfisher 1 Great Crested Flycatcher 3 American Crow 1 Fish Crow 1 Tree Swallow 400 Many seen perched (resting?) on the North Beach and on the sand in the oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek. Barn Swallow 15 Marsh Wren 2 Carolina Wren 1 Nesting in the shed by the landing onBullsIsland. Brown Thrasher 1 Northern Mockingbird 1 Prothonotary Warbler 1 Summer Tanager 1 Northern Cardinal 1 Indigo Bunting 2 Painted Bunting 3 Red-winged Blackbird 50 Boat-tailed Grackle 50 Brown-headed Cowbird 4 View this checklist online athttp://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18183662 This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)