Bob Seigler joined me yesterday for the ongoing BullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. I was pleased to see Coastal Expeditions' owner and captain Chris Crolley for our ride out to Bulls on their brand new Carolina Skiff. Certified by the Coast Guard for 20 passengers, this new boat has twin 115 hp motors and is stable and fast; it will serve CEX for smaller charters, beach drops, and smaller regular ferry service like we had yesterday morning. CEX's Captain Gates Roll ferried us off the island. Many thanks to both Chris and Gates. Nice new ride!
Bob and I tallied 47 target species for the survey proper, 61 species overall on the whole day's outing. Our eBird checklist for the day is appended, below, FYI. Species of note include Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Reddish Egret, Roseate Spoonbill, Cooper's Hawk, Piping Plover (no apparent leg bands or flags), Red Knot (no apparent leg bands or flags), Western Sandpiper, Bonaparte's Gull (very unexpected), Caspian Tern, and Common Tern. Avian misses include Least Bittern, Gull-billed Tern, and Red-winged Blackbird (I probably looked right through and/or over them). We also tallied very few woodland species, even considering that we were driving rather than walking the roads.
Non-avian sightings included multiple sightings of bottle-nosed dolphins (including an up-close view of some "impact feeding" behavior where the dolphin uses its tail to slap the shallow water and, thus, their prey fish), American alligators keeping cool in the water, butterflies, and dragonflies. We missed seeing any fox squirrels.
There's been a VERY BIG change to Upper Summerhouse Pond (USP) since my last visit there on Thursday 14 Aug 2014. The dike separating USP from the extensive salt marsh along the extreme SW corner of the impoundment has been breached. The trunk (water control structure) is completely exposed and the earthen dike is completely washed away around both sides and top of the trunk leaving a 15 m break in the dike. Upper Summerhouse Pond is now completely tidal! We saw it at about an hour and a half before the afternoon low tide and the water was fast draining out leaving extensively exposed mudflats and vegetation in USP.
This same USP dike was breached during Hurricane Hugo (21 Sept 1989), though I believe that this new breach around the trunk is 40 m or so from the Hugo breach site. I've studied some of my photos from Dec 1989 but am unable to confirm the precise location of that breach. I suspect that the USF&WS will bring in a private contractor to make repairs, but with their very tight budget such a fix may not come soon. In the meantime it will be interesting to follow the birds using USP. Yesterday USP had an American White Pelican, 15 Roseate Spoonbills (PINK!), both species of yellowlegs, the only Black-necked Stilts for the day, and the typical egret, heron, cormorant, and ibis species.
I am cross-posting this email to Carolinabirds for the upcoming (26 and 27 Sept 2014) Carolina Bird Club meeting in Charleston and the trips then to BullsIsland.
Looking ahead at the tidal calendar suggests the following dates for our next survey:
Thurs 11 Sept 2014 high tide forecast 6.4 ft at 10:05 AM
Fri 12 Sept 2014 high tide forecast 6.2 ft at 10:57 AM
Sat 13 Sept 2014 high tide forecast 6.0 ft at 11:50 AM
Stay tuned for further plans.
Cape Romain NWR--BullsIsland, Charleston, US-SC Aug 29, 2014 8:50 AM - 4:50 PM Protocol: Traveling 16.1 mile(s) Comments: Conducting the ongoingBullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. Effort: 4.15 mi (one way) and 1 hr by ferry plus 9.9 mi and 2 hr by truck plus 2.9 mi and 5 hr by foot. Weather: clear, sunny, warm, and very humid; temps 74 F to 88 F; AM winds very light from NE gradually picking up to 5 mph to 10 mph from the ENE. High tide was forecast to be 5.2 ft at 10:44 AM. The salt marsh dike at Upper Summerhouse Pond was breeched right at the trunk sometime in the last 2 weeks. This has turned Upper Summerhouse Pond into a tidal basin. <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3 61 species Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 1 Wood Duck 3 Mottled Duck 7 Blue-winged Teal 16 Pied-billed Grebe 1 Wood Stork 7 Double-crested Cormorant 8 Anhinga 4 American White Pelican 13 Brown Pelican 130 Many on sand bar off North Beach and many more beachfront at Jack's Creek. Great Blue Heron 3 Great Egret 22 Snowy Egret 29 Little Blue Heron 2 Tricolored Heron 14 Reddish Egret 2 Green Heron 1 Black-crowned Night-Heron 1 White Ibis 7 Glossy Ibis 1 Roseate Spoonbill 15 Accurate count from Upper Summerhouse Pond. Turkey Vulture 8 Osprey 2 Cooper's Hawk 1 Red-shouldered Hawk 1 Common Gallinule 53 Includes many juveniles. American Coot 2 Clearly distinguished dark rail with white bill. Seen adjacent to Common Gallinules. Black-necked Stilt 5 American Oystercatcher 15 Grey Plover 45 Wilson's Plover 3 Semipalmated Plover 142 A reasonably accurate estimate. Piping Plover 1 No apparent leg bands or flags. Spotted Sandpiper 1 Greater Yellowlegs 1 Willet 55 Many seen on a private boardwalk to dock on Intra Coastal Waterway Lesser Yellowlegs 5 Whimbrel 1 Marbled Godwit 8 Ruddy Turnstone 24 Beachfront at Jack's Creek. Red Knot 29 Medium sizedshorebird; straight, medium length bill; still with rusty red plumage on belly. Sanderling 70 Scurrying beachfront. Semipalmated Sandpiper 24 Western Sandpiper 3 Short-billed Dowitcher 50 Bonaparte's Gull 1 Small, pale gull; blocky tail, dark spot behind eye. Unexpected. Laughing Gull 71 Least Tern 2 Caspian Tern 14 Excellent scope views of resting birds seen in large, mixed flocks along with several other tern species. Black Tern 203 Most seen to be molting out of their dark breeding plumage. Common Tern 52 Excellent scope views of most. Dark carpel spot; dark primaries folded above tail. Forster's Tern 477 Most resting in the saltwater marsh oceanfront at Jack's Creek. Royal Tern 77 Sandwich Tern 3 Black Skimmer 11 Mourning Dove 1 Tree Swallow 1 Barn Swallow 14 Northern Mockingbird 1 Northern Cardinal 1 Boat-tailed Grackle 5 View this checklist online athttp://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19611202 This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)
Susan Thompson and Brian Houghton joined me today on BullsIsland for the ongoing waterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. It was a "Chamber of Commerce" weather day! Captain Richard Stuhr and First Mate/Naturalist Olivia Wilson of Coastal Expeditions gave us their usual first rate service in getting us out to the island and back. Many thanks!
We tallied 46 species on the survey proper, 61 species on the day's outing. My eBird checklist is appended, below, FYI. Great finds on the day included Purple Gallinule (including 1 mature and 3 chicks!), Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Green-winged Teal, Reddish Egret (juvenile), Roseate Spoonbill, Cooper's Hawk, Bald Eagle, Piping Plover, Whimbrel, and American Avocet. Misses included Wilson's Plover, Marbled Godwit (recently present in high numbers), and American Oystercatcher (though Richard and Olivia saw one early that I missed).
Non avian wildlife sightings included Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin, fox squirrel (1 along the road to the dock, 1 along Lighthouse Road at Beach Road), American alligator, spiders on webs, butterflies, and dragonflies. Once again the mosquitos and deer flies were mercifully very few.
After Sunday's perigee/full moon (aka "super moon") the tides were running high and were further aided by steady NE to E winds today. The trunk connecting Jack's Creek to Bulls Bay was open allowing a significant inflow of seawater into Jack's Creek thus raising the water level appreciably. Also the marsh oceanfront at Jack's Creek has recently been filled with the high tides yet continues to drain back into the ocean. The dunes continue to accrete on the North Beach--there was significant exposed beach even with these astronomical high tides.
Looking forward at the tidal calendar suggests the following dates for our next waterfowl/shorebirdsurvey:
Th 28 Aug 2014 high tide 5.2 ft at 10:09 AM
Fri 29 Aug 2014 high tide 5.2 ft at 10:44 AM
Sat 30 Aug 2014 high tide 5.2 ft at 11:21 AM
Stay tuned for further plans.
I am cross-posting this email to Carolinabirds in advance of the upcoming fall Carolina Bird Club (CBC) meeting in Charleston 26 to 28 Sept 2014 and the field trips to BullsIsland.
Cape Romain NWR--BullsIsland, Charleston, US-SC Aug 14, 2014 8:30 AM - 3:40 PM Protocol: Traveling 17.999 mile(s) Comments: Conducting the ongoingBullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. Effort: 4.15 mi and 30 min by ferry plus 10.7 mi and 2 hr by truck plus 3.7 mi and 4 hr 40 min by foot. Weather: clear, sunny, and warm; temps 77 F to 85 F; winds NE early becoming E late AM, at 5 mph. High tide was forecast to be 5.9 ft at 11:24 AM but was higher due to the perigee/full moon (Super Moon) on Sun 10 Aug 2014 and due to the steady NE to E winds. It was a 'Chamber of Commerce' weather day! <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3 61 species Black-bellied Whistling-Duck 2 Wood Duck 2 Mottled Duck 1 Green-winged Teal 1 Female. Showed green speculum. Pied-billed Grebe 1 Wood Stork 3 Double-crested Cormorant 12 Fewer than expected. Anhinga 5 American White Pelican 7 Brown Pelican 127 Many on sandbar off North Beach, many more on beachfront at Jack's Creek. Least Bittern 2 Great Blue Heron 3 Great Egret 22 Snowy Egret 105 Many were resting together in Upper Summerhouse Pond. Little Blue Heron 3 3 immature Tricolored Heron 21 Reddish Egret 1 Juvenile Green Heron 10 Black-crowned Night-Heron 6 White Ibis 1 Glossy Ibis 6 Roseate Spoonbill 14 Very pink, spoon-shaped bills. A fairly accurate count. Turkey Vulture 5 Osprey 5 Cooper's Hawk 1 Bald Eagle 1 1 mature, along Intra-coastal waterway (ICWW). Purple Gallinule 4 1 mature, 3 chick/juveniles Common Gallinule 25 Black-necked Stilt 11 American Avocet 1 Grey Plover 30 Semipalmated Plover 260 On the beachfront and the beachfront marsh at Jack's Creek. Piping Plover 1 No apparent leg bands or flags. Spotted Sandpiper 4 Greater Yellowlegs 3 Willet 62 Most on private dock immediately north of Garris Landing as the tide rose. Lesser Yellowlegs 1 Whimbrel 2 Ruddy Turnstone 18 On the beachfront. Excellent, close binocular views. Sanderling 243 On the North Beach and many in the oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek. Semipalmated Sandpiper 9 Short-billed Dowitcher 33 Laughing Gull 146 Ring-billed Gull 1 Least Tern 113 A conservative estimate. Gull-billed Tern 19 A conservative estimate. Black Tern 236 Most resting on the wet sands in the marsh oceanfront at Jack's Creek. Forster's Tern 25 A conservative estimate. Royal Tern 199 Resting beachfront and in the marsh oceanfront at Jack's. Several on the wing with small fish held in bills. Sandwich Tern 20 Black Skimmer 24 Mourning Dove 2 Belted Kingfisher 1 Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 American Crow 2 Barn Swallow 3 Marsh Wren 2 Northern Mockingbird 3 Northern Cardinal 12 Red-winged Blackbird 20 Boat-tailed Grackle 10 View this checklist online athttp://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19470712 This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)
Susan Hancock joined me yesterday for the BullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. We were fortunate to have three great hosts from the Coastal Expeditions (CEX) ferry carry us to and from the island: Owner and Captain Chris Crolley and First Mates and Naturalists Olivia Wilson and Nick. (Sorry, I can't recall Nick's last name.) CEX has been such a great asset for this survey, always giving us first rate service, that I wish I could do more than simply say "Thank you!"
The morning's high tide was forecast to be only moderately high at 4.7 ft, but the stiff East winds kept the levels much higher through the whole day. We had only a trace of rain at 3:30 PM right at the end of the survey, but the ferry ride back was in and out of light rain that dampened our clothing but failed to dampen our spirits after such a great day's birding.
We tallied 45 target species on the survey proper, 59 species on the day's outing. My eBird checklist is appended, below, FYI. Avian species of note include: 1 Piping Plover (no leg bands), Roseate Spoonbills (fully PINK!), American Avocets, Reddish Egret, and 1 Red Knot. We also had good numbers of Short-billed Dowitchers, Marbled Godwits, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Least Terns, Sandwich Terns, and Black Terns.
Non-target avian species seen included 1 Belted Kingfisher and 1 Northern Rough-winged Swallow. Misses included Least Bittern and Wilson's Plover. Non-avian sightings included Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin, white-tailed deer, cottonmouth, butterflies, and dragonflies. Also missed were fox squirrels. The mosquitoes and deer flies were very few. (The steady East wind kept the insect pests down and kept the tide up much higher than the 4.7 ft predicted high tide.)
The North Beach continues to accrete! The dune line is taller, and the vegetation, especially the sea oats, is growing much further out and in much greater number than even two weeks ago. Strangely, however, the North Beach continues to have few birds, a trend that has been fairly consistent over this entire calendar year. The water level in the marsh oceanfront at Jack's Creek appears relatively stable though low, but the recent breech in the dune line remains. It will be interesting to see what happens there with the upcoming perigee full moon, aka super moon at 2:09 PM Sun 10 Aug 2014, and the associated high tides. I hope that the winds will be favorable to protect the whole island during those several days of spring astronomical tides.
Looking forward at the tidal calendar suggests the following dates to consider for our next survey:
Tues 12 Aug 2014 high tide 5.9 ft at 9:33 AM
Wed 13 Aug 2014 high tide 6.0 ft at 10:29 AM
Thurs 14 Aug 2014 high tide 5.9 ft at 11:24 AM
Fri 15 Aug 2014 high tide 5.8 ft at 12:20 PM
Stay tuned for further plans.
Cape Romain NWR--BullsIsland, Charleston, US-SC Jul 31, 2014 8:35 AM - 3:35 PM Protocol: Traveling 18.299 mile(s) Comments: Conducting the ongoingBullsIslandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. Effort: 4.15 mi and 30 min by ferry plus 11.6 mi and 2 hr by vehicle plus 2.6 mi and 4 hr 30 min by foot. Weather: bright overcast and warm; trace of rain at 3:30 PM; temps 81 F to 84 F; steady winds E at 10 mph to 15 mph. High tide was forecast to be 4.7 ft at 11:19 AM, but the steady E winds kept the water levels higher throughout the day. <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3 59 species Mottled Duck 10 Pied-billed Grebe 2 Wood Stork 15 Double-crested Cormorant 9 Anhinga 7 American White Pelican 2 Brown Pelican 251 Includes one large, resting flock of 150 beachfront. Great Blue Heron 5 Great Egret 39 Snowy Egret 32 Tricolored Heron 36 Reddish Egret 1 Green Heron 2 Black-crowned Night-Heron 9 White Ibis 72 Glossy Ibis 2 Roseate Spoonbill 2 Turkey Vulture 4 Osprey 2 Red-tailed Hawk 1 Clapper Rail 1 Common Gallinule 17 American Coot 1 Dark rail, white bill. Black-necked Stilt 32 Less vocal than expected. American Avocet 2 White wader, dark wing, buff head and neck, recurved bill. American Oystercatcher 33 Mostly from one large flock on the wing in the salt marshes ofBullsBay. Grey Plover 10 Semipalmated Plover 19 In the salt water marsh beachfront at Jack's Creek. Piping Plover 1 Very pale plover, short bill, yellow/orange legs. No evident leg bands. Spotted Sandpiper 4 Jack's Creek. Stiff wing beats, spotted breast sandpiper. Greater Yellowlegs 2 Willet 40 Lesser Yellowlegs 2 Whimbrel 2 Marbled Godwit 52 A fairly accurate count. Large wader, warm cinnamon color, long bicolored bill slightly recurved. Each closely observed in rule out Long-billed Curlew. Ruddy Turnstone 9 North Beach and oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek. Red Knot 1 Medium sized sandpiper, rusty red breast, stout bill of intermediate length. Sanderling 1 Semipalmated Sandpiper 62 Short-billed Dowitcher 186 Mostly in large resting flocks, oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek. Laughing Gull 116 Ring-billed Gull 6 Least Tern 269 Gull-billed Tern 48 Black Tern 211 Forster's Tern 54 Royal Tern 153 Sandwich Tern 38 Black Skimmer 3 Mourning Dove 6 Belted Kingfisher 1 Fish Crow 9 Northern Rough-winged Swallow 1 Tree Swallow 2 Marsh Wren 4 Northern Cardinal 2 Painted Bunting 1 Red-winged Blackbird 5 Boat-tailed Grackle 20 View this checklist online athttp://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19296713 This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)