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.
16 July 2014
Wed 16 July 2014
Wed 16 July 2014
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)