28 November 2014

Fri 28 Nov 2015 survey

Fri 28 Nov 2014


   We had planned on conducting the Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey this past Tuesday, but the thunder and lightening at 7:30 AM Tuesday morning quickly changed our plans. So instead I got out there today to take advantage of the beautiful but cold weather. Coastal Expeditions, specifically Captain Gates Roll and First Mate/Naturalist Rachel Jones, graciously allowed me to hitch a ferry ride out to the island along with many other folks also doing their best alternative Black Friday excursion. [Coastal Expeditions will be running one of their Long-billed Curlew excursions out of McClellanville this Sunday 30 Nov 2014; check out their announcement at: http://www.bullsislandferry.com/index.php?page=CurlewTour.]

   I tallied 47 species on the survey proper, 81 species on the day's outing. See my eBird checklist, below, for a full accounting. Waterfowl have returned to Bulls Island in pretty good numbers, and it's still early in the season. 

   Upper Summerhouse Pond (USP) was spectacular today as I counted 13 species of waterfowl and over 1000 individual waterfowl from one vantage point! [No typo there: over 1,000.] Most numerous were Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Bufflehead, Gadwall, Hooded Merganser, and Ruddy Duck. Also at USP were Redhead, Canvasback, and Northern Pintail along with a scattering of shorebirds and wading birds. I don't remember USP having this many waterfowl since the 1970s when I first started going to Bulls with my father and Calvin Clyde (both from Florence County, both recently deceased) for Christmas Counts. I offer my apologies for my thoughts of doom and gloom for USP after the dike broke in August and was repaired in September. 

   Of particular note from Jack's Creek were two Horned Grebes (normally seen in good numbers in the marshes of BullsBay but not in any of the Bulls impoundments) and a Wilson's Snipe. Overall shorebird numbers were down as both the North Beach was practically devoid of shorebirds and the oceanfront marsh at Jack's had precious few shorebirds other than a flight of about 800 Dunlin. 

   Non avian wildlife sightings were somewhat limited today to the expected American alligator and Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. More horseshoe crab carapaces were left along the high tide line on the North Beach than I ever recall, especially small ones 4 in to 5 in across, and shelling was fairly good, too.

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

Thursday 11 Dec 2014 high tide 5.1 ft at 10:37 AM
Friday 12 Dec 2014 high tide 4.9 ft at 11:19 AM

Stay tuned for final plans.



Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, US-SC
Nov 28, 2014 8:30 AM - 5:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
17.449 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. Effort: 4.15 mi (one way) and 1 hr by ferry plus 11.1 mi and 2 hr by truck plus 2.2 mi and 5 hr 30 min by foot. Weather: clear, sunny, and cold; temps 34 F to 45 F; AM winds NNE at 10 mph to 12 mph, PM winds NW at 5 mph; barometer 30.39 in Hg rising to 30.41 in Hg [by 11:15 AM] then falling to 30.32 in Hg. Tide was forecast high at 5.6 ft at 12:10 PM; Charleston harbor tide hit 6.42 ft at 12:48 PM.  <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3
81 species (+1 other taxa)

Gadwall  261     Scope views of most. A moderately reasonable estimate/count.
American Wigeon  32
American Black Duck  2
Mottled Duck  4
Blue-winged Teal  80
Northern Shoveler  200     A possible under estimate/count.
Northern Pintail  1
Green-winged Teal  155
Canvasback  4
Redhead  26     A fairly accurate count. Scope views.
Lesser Scaup  56
Bufflehead  146     An estimate.
Hooded Merganser  92     A conservative estimate.
Red-breasted Merganser  1
Ruddy Duck  254     Jsck's Creek and Upper Summerhouse Pond. Scope views of most.
Common Loon  2
Pied-billed Grebe  79     Highly abundant throughout the island.
Horned Grebe  12     2 actually on Jack's Creek, the rest in the tidal salt marsh.
Wood Stork  1
Northern Gannet  18
Double-crested Cormorant  119
Anhinga  2
American White Pelican  21
Brown Pelican  43
Great Blue Heron  12
Great Egret  18
Snowy Egret  56     Both widely scattered and a few large congregations.
Little Blue Heron  8
Tricolored Heron  23     Widely dispersed.
Black-crowned Night-Heron  8
White Ibis  56
Glossy Ibis  1
Turkey Vulture  6
Northern Harrier  1
Cooper's Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Clapper Rail  8
Common Gallinule  34
American Coot  86
American Oystercatcher  13
Grey Plover  5
Semipalmated Plover  60
Piping Plover  1     No apparent leg bands or flags.
Killdeer  2
Greater Yellowlegs  15
Willet  28
Ruddy Turnstone  12
Sanderling  24     A surprisingly low count.
Dunlin  808     A reasonably accurate count.
Western Sandpiper  2
Short-billed Dowitcher  6
Wilson's Snipe  1
Laughing Gull  63
Ring-billed Gull  9
Herring Gull  1
Forster's Tern  15
Royal Tern  1
Great Horned Owl  2     Hooting at Garris Landing as the sun set.
Belted Kingfisher  10
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  2
Eastern Phoebe  3
Blue Jay  8
American Crow  2
crow sp.  8
Tree Swallow  3
Carolina Wren  1
Grey Catbird  2
Brown Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  5
Common Yellowthroat  2
Palm Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  19
Eastern Towhee  1
Chipping Sparrow  5
Savannah Sparrow  5
Song Sparrow  2
Swamp Sparrow  1
White-throated Sparrow  1
Northern Cardinal  2
Red-winged Blackbird  30
Boat-tailed Grackle  13

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20713363

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

11 November 2014

Tues 11 Nov 2014 survey

Tues 11 Nov 2014


   Wil Christenson, Eliese Ronke, and Olivia Wilson joined me today for the Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. Coastal Expeditions'  (CEX) Captain Richard Stuhr and First Mate Olivia Wilson graciously got us out to the island and back. CEX's Captain Chris Crolley gave us a sendoff and a great heads-up on where to look for the returning waterfowl. As always I am very grateful for CEX's expertise, interest, and service.

   We had a sneaky good tally of 44 target species on the survey proper and 82 species on the whole day's outing. Our eBird checklist for the day is appended, below, FYI. Waterfowl have begun returning to Bulls Island and winteringshorebird species are increasing.  (Maybe they've sensed that major cold front barreling down from Canada and moved ahead of that weather. Who knows?) 

   We all had excellent scope views of an American Bittern that flushed across a narrow ditch and perched high in the grasses of Jack's Creek. The most unexpected sighting was a White-winged Scoter in Upper Summerhouse Pond. Other sightings of note included either first-of-season (FOS) or first high counts of wintering species including: Little Blue Heron, Yellow-crowned Night Heron, Bufflehead, American Black Duck, Green-winged Teal, Ruddy Duck, Dunlin, Northern Shoveler, Bonaparte's Gull, Horned Grebe, Redhead, Lesser Scaup, Red-breasted Merganser, and Common Loon.

   Upper Summerhouse Pond (USP) continues to impress with a wide variety of shorebirds, wading birds, waterfowl, and passerines. There is an ongoing algal bloom in parts of USP leaving me wondering whether is is a salt water (likely) or fresh water (much less likely) bloom. I really need to get a refractometer so that I can read salinities in the impoundments. There was a large mixed flock of shorebirds in the oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek that was flushed by a Peregrine Falcon before we got a scope on them; after that flush, the marsh was all but empty of shorebirds and was as quiet (bird wise) as I ever remember. 

   Non avian sightings included long-tailed skippers, Monarch butterflies, Gulf fritillaries, yellow sulfur butterflies, carpenter bees, a fox squirrel, baby American alligators (count of 23), many adult gators (Wil had to literally kick one gator's tail out of the way so that the truck could just squeeze by), a pair of shrews (likely--heard only), and a relatively fresh marine mammal stranding on the North Beach--an Atlantic bottlenose dolphin. 

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

Tues 25 Nov high tide 6.1 ft at 9:24 AM
Wed 26 Nov high tide 5.9 ft at 10:15 AM
Fri 28 Nov high tide 5.6 ft at 12:10 PM

Stay tuned for final plans.



Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, US-SC
Nov 11, 2014 8:50 AM - 4:11 PM
Protocol: Traveling
16.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. Effort: 4.15 mi (one way) and 35 min by ferry plus 9.9 mi and 2 hr by truck plus 2.0 mi and 4 hr 46 min by foot. Weather: mostly overcast with brief full sunlight; temps 58 F to 76 F; winds N at <= 5 mph; barometer at 29.85 in Hg and steady. High tide was forecast forecast to be 5.6 ft at 10:30 AM. Observed tides (in Charleston harbor) ran to 6.7 ft at 11:06 AM.  <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3
82 species

American Wigeon  2
American Black Duck  8
Mottled Duck  1
Blue-winged Teal  3
Northern Shoveler  60
Green-winged Teal  130
Redhead  5
Lesser Scaup  8
White-winged Scoter  1
Bufflehead  33     A fairly accurate count.
Red-breasted Merganser  4
Ruddy Duck  33     A fairly accurate count.
Common Loon  1
Pied-billed Grebe  70     Spread over several impoundments.
Horned Grebe  1
Wood Stork  3
Double-crested Cormorant  95
Anhinga  2
Brown Pelican  51
American Bittern  1
Great Blue Heron  10
Great Egret  10
Snowy Egret  11
Little Blue Heron  12
Tricolored Heron  31     A fairly accurate count.
Black-crowned Night-Heron  1
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  1
White Ibis  29
Turkey Vulture  15
Osprey  1
Northern Harrier  3
Cooper's Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  4     2 mature, 2 immature
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Clapper Rail  6
Common Gallinule  33
American Coot  52
American Oystercatcher  200     One large parcel resting on an oyster shell rake across from Garris Landing. The same whole parcel took to the wing twice allowing a better estimate than the resting parcel.
Grey Plover  2
Semipalmated Plover  200
Piping Plover  5     None appeared to have leg bands or flags.
Killdeer  1
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  43
Willet  50
Lesser Yellowlegs  10
Ruddy Turnstone  13
Sanderling  26     Most on the North Beach. A fairly accurate count.
Dunlin  980     Most on the North Beach. An estimate.
Western Sandpiper  12
Short-billed Dowitcher  24
Bonaparte's Gull  2
Laughing Gull  38
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  10
Forster's Tern  3
Mourning Dove  1
Belted Kingfisher  7
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Phoebe  8
Blue Jay  1
Fish Crow  4
Tree Swallow  40
Carolina Chickadee  1
House Wren  1
Sedge Wren  1
Carolina Wren  1
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher  2
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2
Grey Catbird  2
Northern Mockingbird  6
Orange-crowned Warbler  1
Common Yellowthroat  1
Palm Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  26
Chipping Sparrow  1
Savannah Sparrow  4
Seaside Sparrow  23
Swamp Sparrow  5
Red-winged Blackbird  70
Boat-tailed Grackle  6

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S20520672

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