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.
02 May 2014
Fri 2 May 2014 survey
F 2 May 2014
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)