16 July 2014

Wed 16 July 2014

Wed 16 July 2014


   Rob Dillon joined me yesterday for the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. We caught the 9:00 AM Coastal Expeditions ferry out and the 4:00 PM ferry back. Captain Gates Roll and First Mate/Naturalist Olivia Wilson treated us very well giving us their usual excellent service on our day's effort. Thanks, CEX! Even though we were scheduled on the ferry, USF&WS maintenance worker Greg Geathers saw us unloading in the Garris Landing parking lot and came over to make sure that we had a boat ride out to the island; thanks, Greg.

   Even though it's what I would call "high summer," it was the 15th of July after all, our survey turned up pretty fair results. We tallied 39 species on the survey proper, 55 species overall on the whole day's outing; my eBird report on the day is appended, below, FYI. Birds of the day were a pair of American Avocets seen in Jack's Creek. Both gulls-and-terns and shorebirds were represented in surprisingly high numbers. We tallied many Royal Terns, Sandwich Terns, Black Terns, Forester's Terns, Gull-billed Terns, Least Terns, and a pair of Herring Gulls. Shorebirds in good number included Black-bellied Plover (listed from eBird below as Grey Plover), Short-billed Dowitcher, Marbled Godwit, Spotted Sandpipers, and Semipalmated Sandpipers. 

   I tallied the first-of-year Roseate Spoonbills for the survey in Upper Summerhouse Pond; these 3 happened to be exceptionally pink and pretty, the pinkest I've ever seen. We also saw 2 Mallards, 3 Swallow-tailed Kites, fewer Mottled Ducks and Common Gallinules than recent surveys, and surprisingly low numbers of both Red-winged Blackbirds and Boat-tailed Grackles, and only 1 Double-crested Cormorant.

   Other non-avian sightings on the day included American alligators (no surprise there), Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin, fox squirrels (1 along Summerhouse Road at Beach Road plus 1 in the oak lawn in front of the Dominick House), and several spiders, butterflies, and dragonflies. Mercifully all-but-absent again were biting insects; the steady SSW winds really helped keep them down. As he had done back in April, Rob looked for freshwater gastropods; after beating back the lounging alligators, he waded into several impoundments to find only limpets (Ferrissia fragile); absent were the Physa caolinae pulmonates that he had found back in April. He suspected that there might be some seasonality to the snails, and he's looking forward to a fall and winter sampling on Bulls to further explore that hypothesis.

   Tall clouds started darkening the western horizon about 1:45 PM, and we understood from Gates and Olivia that weather was building and threatening to move over us. We pushed just a little bit to finish up early to try an beat the weather. As it turned out, the threat passed without incident and left us at Garris Landing back in the sunshine. 

   We started our day hearing Painted Buntings (and saw a female) at Garris Landing and heard PABU a couple of times on the island, but hadn't seen a breeding plumage male. While walking back down the dock at Garris Landing talking about what a good day's outing it had been, I mentioned that I'd try to find a male PABU in the parking lot for Rob to see well. He accepted my offer, actually insisted that one be waiting for us in the oak tree right above my parked car. I did find him a beautiful male PABU, but we had to walk about 20 yards to the gravel driveway back to the maintenance shed to track one down. Rob graciously accepted that binocular view of a breeding plumage male PABU.

   Looking ahead at the tidal forecast suggests the following dates for our next survey:

Tues 29 July 2014 high tide 4.7 ft at 10:05 AM
Wed 30 July 2014 high tide 4.7 ft at 10:42 AM
Thurs 31 July 2014 high tide 4.7 ft at 11:19 AM

Stay tuned for further plans.



Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, US-SC
Jul 15, 2014 8:30 AM - 3:15 PM
Protocol: Traveling
17.8 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. Effort: 4.15 mi and 30 min by ferry plus 2 hr and 11.2 mi by truck plus 4 hr 15 min by foot. Weather: sunny, steady breeze, and very warm; temps 83 F to 88 F, steady SSW winds at 10 mph to 15 mph. High tide forecast at 5.5 ft at 10:49 AM.  <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3
55 species (+1 other taxa)

Mallard  2     1 flying over marshes on ferry ride, 1 flying over Upper Summerhouse Pond. Both females with very distinct white leading and trailing bands surrounding wing speculum.
Mottled Duck  3
duck sp.  3     Likely Mottled Duck, but these 3 flushed to wing too far away to confirm.
Wood Stork  3
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Anhinga  11
American White Pelican  1
Brown Pelican  128     Many on sand bar off North Beach, many on beachfront at Jack's Creek.
Least Bittern  2
Great Blue Heron  3
Great Egret  26
Snowy Egret  42
Tricolored Heron  12
Green Heron  8
Black-crowned Night-Heron  6
White Ibis  7
Glossy Ibis  8
Roseate Spoonbill  3     These 3 ROSP were the pinkest ROSP that I have ever seen. Scope views of standing birds.
Black Vulture  3
Turkey Vulture  3
Osprey  2
Swallow-tailed Kite  3
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Common Gallinule  7
Black-necked Stilt  37     Vocal and obvious.
American Avocet  2     Clear scope view, instantly identified even before scope view.
American Oystercatcher  5
Grey Plover  30     In oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek.
Wilson's Plover  3
Semipalmated Plover  6
Spotted Sandpiper  2     Along ferry ride in marsh channels. Spotted breast, stiff wing beats.
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Willet  24
Lesser Yellowlegs  4     Scope views. Yellow legs, a not-too-long bill, slight build.
Marbled Godwit  70     In oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek. Many resting with bill tucked on back between wings. Scanned carefully to rule out a possible Long-billed Curlew.
Semipalmated Sandpiper  10     Scope views of peeps in breeding plumage. None had a long decurved bill typical of Western Sandpiper, rather had straighter, shorter bills.
Short-billed Dowitcher  460     In rich breeding-plumage color. Oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek.
Laughing Gull  108
Herring Gull  2
Least Tern  137     Many flying over Jack's Creek, many more resting on sand on oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek.
Gull-billed Tern  21     Heavy, all dark bill; black plumage cap; notched tail.
Black Tern  43     Most resting on sand in the oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek. Dark head, neck, and belly plumage.
Forster's Tern  41     Mist resting on sand in oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek. Most with dark plumage spot behind eye and deeply forked tail.
Royal Tern  172     All over the beaches.
Sandwich Tern  58     Clear views of terns with dark bills with yellow tips, both up close and scope views. All over Jack's Creek and the beaches.
Black Skimmer  68
Mourning Dove  6
Great Horned Owl  1
Barn Swallow  5
Marsh Wren  4
Brown Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  2
Northern Cardinal  4
Painted Bunting  7
Red-winged Blackbird  20
Boat-tailed Grackle  8

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19118036

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)

02 July 2014

Tues 1 July 2014 survey

Wed 2 July 2014


   Patrick Markham joined me yesterday for the Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. The Coastal Expeditions ferry folks graciously hauled us out and back for a beautiful, sunny, and warm day's birding.  

   Traditionally the slowest time of the year for both waterfowl and shorebird species here in coastal S.C., we nonetheless tallied 37 species on the survey proper, 51 species on the whole day's outing. My eBird checklist is appended below FYI. Several shorebird species, as well as gull and tern species, were on the island including Black-bellied Plover, Greater Yellowlegs, Ruddy Turnstone, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Forster's Tern, Marbled Godwit, American Oystercatcher, and Black Scoter.

   Summer resident Least Terns and Black Skimmers were present in good numbers. There was one Back-bellied Whistling Duck seen on Upper Summerhouse Pond, but the recently reported Ruff was not seen (darn, that would have been a life species sighting for me). 

   Juveniles of several species were evident including Mottled Duck, Common Gallinule, and Black-necked Stilt.

   Other avian species seen included a Great-horned Owl and a Swallow-tailed Kite.

   Misses included Wilson's Plover, Reddish Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, Black Tern, and the recently seen Purple Gallinule.

   Non-avian wildlife sightings included Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin, fox squirrel (1 on Lighthouse Rd at Beach Rd, 2 along Mills Rd, and 1 on Summerhouse Pond Rd  near the overlook bench at Upper Summerhouse Pond), alligators (including one hanging out in the salt water boat landing on the back of the island), general butterflies and dragonflies, and putative coyote tracks on the North Beach. Wonderfully absent were both mosquitoes and biting flies.

   Looking ahead at the tide calendar suggests the following dates favorable for our next survey:

Mon 14 July 2014, 5.5 ft high tide at 9:52 AM
Tues 15 July 2014, 5.5 ft high tide at 10:49 AM
Wed 16 July 2014, 5.5 ft high tide at 11:47 AM

Stay tuned for final plans. 

   I'm hoping that Bulls Island and Bulls Bay weather Arthur's passing-by well.



Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, US-SC
Jul 1, 2014 8:45 AM - 3:45 PM
Protocol: Traveling
18.499 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. Effort: 4.15 mi (one way) and 35 min by ferry plus 10.8 mi and 2 hr by vehicle plus 3.5 mi and 4 hr 25 min by foot. Weather: sunny and very warm; essentially 0 % cloud cover; temps 80 F to 86 F; AM winds calm to < 5 mph, PM winds variable at 10 mph with gusts to 15 mph. Predicted high tide: 4.4 ft at 11:16 AM.  <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3
51 species

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  1
Mottled Duck  40
Black Scoter  5     2 males (dark sea duck with yellow-orange bill) plus 3 females (medium gray sea duck with light cheek patch).
Wood Stork  6
Double-crested Cormorant  17     A reasonably accurate count.
Anhinga  14
American White Pelican  10
Brown Pelican  89
Least Bittern  1
Great Blue Heron  5
Great Egret  31
Snowy Egret  38
Little Blue Heron  1
Tricolored Heron  16
Green Heron  18
Black-crowned Night-Heron  9
White Ibis  22
Glossy Ibis  18
Black Vulture  1
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  2
Swallow-tailed Kite  1
Common Gallinule  41     Includes several juveniles.
Black-necked Stilt  78     Very noisy and obvious. All over the impoundments.
American Oystercatcher  10
Grey Plover  32     A couple in breeding plumage, most not in breeding plumage.
Semipalmated Plover  39     Ocean-front marsh at Jack's Creek. A reasonably accurate count.
Killdeer  1
Greater Yellowlegs  5     Upper Summerhouse Pond. Scope views. Yellow legs, bill longer than head dimension.
Willet  25
Marbled Godwit  80     Each studied carefully to rule out Long-billed Curlew. Jack's Creek, North Beach, and in the ocean-front marsh at Jack's Creek.
Ruddy Turnstone  2
Semipalmated Sandpiper  4     Scope views. Dark legs, bills relatively straight and blunt. Each studied closely to rule out Western Sandpiper.
Short-billed Dowitcher  91     Few showing the reddish breeding plumage. Long bills, sewing machine like probing motion. Light supercillium. Estimated number tallied from several locations.
Laughing Gull  74
Least Tern  110     Seen both in light, buoyant flight and resting on the sands.
Gull-billed Tern  8
Forster's Tern  86     Larger than nearby Least Terns, black patch behind eye, forked tail.
Royal Tern  72
Sandwich Tern  7
Black Skimmer  244     The majority spotted on the Bulls Bay island north of the North Beach.
Mourning Dove  5
Great Horned Owl  1
Common Nighthawk  1
Purple Martin  7
Marsh Wren  7
Northern Mockingbird  2
Northern Cardinal  7
Painted Bunting  6
Red-winged Blackbird  70
Boat-tailed Grackle  40

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18971762

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)