Rob Dillon joined me yesterday for the ongoing BullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. 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--BullsIsland, Charleston, US-SC Jul 15, 2014 8:30 AM - 3:15 PM Protocol: Traveling 17.8 mile(s) Comments: Conducting the ongoingBullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. 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 athttp://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19118036 This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)
Patrick Markham joined me yesterday for the BullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. 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 BullsIsland and Bulls Bay weather Arthur's passing-by well.
Cape Romain NWR--BullsIsland, Charleston, US-SC Jul 1, 2014 8:45 AM - 3:45 PM Protocol: Traveling 18.499 mile(s) Comments: Conducting the ongoingBullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. 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 theBullsBayislandnorth 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 athttp://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S18971762 This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)