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.
30 August 2014
Sat 30 Aug 2014 survey
Sat 30 Aug 2014
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)