Wil Christenson and Rachel Jones joined me today for the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. With thanks to Coastal Expeditions for their generous and ongoing support, we were able to get out to the island and back on our own schedule. Good thing, too, as we needed more time than usual to count all the waterfowl hanging out on Jack's Creek.
We tallied 50 species on the survey proper, 80 species on the day's outing; our two eBird checklists are combined and presented below, FYI. Waterfowl were very plentiful, especially on Jack's Creek. We tallied many Bufflehead, Gadwall, American Wigeon, Ruddy Duck, Hooded Merganser, Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, and Red-breasted Mergansers and added small numbers of Northern Pintail, Canvasback, and Ring-necked Duck.
Unfortunately shorebirds numbers were way down with very few seen on either the North Beach or the oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek. Even the dropping water levels in Jack's failed to attract shorebirds there. A nice shorebird find was a Wilson's Plover. Since we moved the survey up by a day to avoid getting drenched in Friday's predicted rain, the high tide was earlier than we typically plan for the surveys; perhaps we missed our usual target high tide plus-or-minus 2 hours and thus missed many of the shorebirds that had gone off foraging.
There were a few other nice finds on the day including Green Heron, Glossy Ibis, Great Black-backed Gulls, all three marsh sparrows, and a Roseate Spoonbill.
Non-avian sightings included white-tailed deer, eastern fox squirrel, numerous bobcat tracks, bottle-nosed dolphin, and American alligators.
Looking ahead at the tide calendar suggests the following dates to consider for our next survey:
Fri 6 Feb 2015 high tide 5.0 ft at 8:59 AM
Sat 7 Feb 2015 high tide 4.8 ft at 9:32 AM
Mon 9 Feb 2015 high tide 4.5 ft at 10:41 AM
Tues 10 Feb 2015 high tide 4.3 ft at 11:22 AM
Wed 11 Feb 20115 high tide 4.2 ft at 12:10 PM
Stay tuned for further plans.
BirdLog Checklist Summary for: Thursday, Jan 22 2015
Number of Checklists: 2
Number of Species: 80
Checklists included in this summary:
(1): Bull's Island Ferry
Date: Jan 22, 2015, 8:14
(2): Cape Romain NWR--Bull Island
Date: Jan 22, 2015, 9:35
626 Gadwall -- (2)
338 American Wigeon -- (2)
2 American Black Duck -- (2)
2 Mallard -- (2)
13 Mottled Duck -- (2)
582 Northern Shoveler -- (2)
3 Northern Pintail -- (2)
108 Green-winged Teal -- (2)
1 Canvasback -- (2)
30 Redhead -- (2)
1 Ring-necked Duck -- (2)
134 Lesser Scaup -- (2)
107 Bufflehead -- (1),(2)
154 Hooded Merganser -- (2)
31 Red-breasted Merganser -- (2)
627 Ruddy Duck -- (2)
1 Common Loon -- (1)
78 Pied-billed Grebe -- (2)
16 Horned Grebe -- (1),(2)
83 Double-crested Cormorant -- (1),(2)
4 Anhinga -- (2)
42 American White Pelican -- (2)
25 Brown Pelican -- (1),(2)
6 Great Blue Heron -- (1),(2)
11 Great Egret -- (2)
30 Snowy Egret -- (2)
5 Little Blue Heron -- (2)
8 Tricolored Heron -- (1),(2)
1 Green Heron -- (2)
39 Black-crowned Night-Heron -- (2)
65 White Ibis -- (2)
1 Glossy Ibis -- (2)
1 Roseate Spoonbill -- (2)
4 Black Vulture -- (2)
5 Turkey Vulture -- (2)
2 Osprey -- (1),(2)
1 Northern Harrier -- (2)
2 Bald Eagle -- (2)
2 Clapper Rail -- (2)
1 Sora -- (2)
34 Common Gallinule -- (2)
337 American Coot -- (2)
32 Black-bellied Plover -- (1),(2)
1 Wilson's Plover -- (2)
12 Semipalmated Plover -- (2)
1 Spotted Sandpiper -- (2)
1 Greater Yellowlegs -- (2)
5 Willet -- (2)
1 Marbled Godwit -- (1)
12 Ruddy Turnstone -- (2)
23 Sanderling -- (2)
137 Dunlin -- (1),(2)
1 Western Sandpiper -- (2)
400 Short-billed Dowitcher -- (1)
87 Ring-billed Gull -- (1),(2)
9 Herring Gull -- (1),(2)
5 Great Black-backed Gull -- (2)
25 Forster's Tern -- (2)
2 Mourning Dove -- (2)
7 Belted Kingfisher -- (1),(2)
1 Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) -- (2)
1 Peregrine Falcon -- (1)
2 Eastern Phoebe -- (1),(2)
2 Blue Jay -- (2)
200 Tree Swallow -- (2)
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet -- (2)
1 Brown Thrasher -- (2)
4 Northern Mockingbird -- (2)
3 European Starling -- (2)
1 Common Yellowthroat -- (2)
30 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) -- (1),(2)
3 Eastern Towhee -- (2)
1 Savannah Sparrow -- (2)
5 Nelson's Sparrow -- (2)
1 Saltmarsh Sparrow -- (2)
24 Seaside Sparrow -- (2)
2 Swamp Sparrow -- (2)
2 Northern Cardinal -- (2)
21 Red-winged Blackbird -- (1),(2)
25 Boat-tailed Grackle -- (2)
This trip summary was created using the BirdLog app for iPhone and iPad.
Here's a bonus report, below, that Wil Christenson and I submitted yesterday from our efforts on Bulls Island conducting both the mid-winter Bald Eagle survey and the mid-winter waterfowlsurvey. Thanks to the generous support of Coastal Expeditions, we got out to the island early and were able to stay late. And we needed all that time to count the ducks on Jack's Creek.
Both eagles and ducks were well represented on the island; Jack's Creek, in particular, was brimming withwaterfowl. The only waterfowl species that we missed were Canvasback, Long-tailed Duck, Blue-winged Teal, Greater Scaup, and the three scoters. Bird of the day, however, was Green Heron--five total seen in two different locations. After having seen no alligators on our previous survey, we did see one gator braving the cold yesterday. Also seen were dolphin cresting the surface of Bulls Bay.
Arrangements are under way to construct a new, long dike across Jack's Creek. I don't know when construction begins, but it may last several months. Should be interesting to follow changes in the waterfowland shorebirds during and after construction.
Through the generous and ongoing support of our waterfowl and shorebird surveys from Coastal Expeditions, we have a newfound flexibility in conducting upcoming surveys. The tide table suggests that Friday 23 Jan 2015 (5.9 ft high tide at 9:49 AM) should serve the survey well. We will be leaving Garris Landing slightly earlier than usual, likely about 8:30 AM, and returning slightly later than usual, likely by 5:00 PM or so. Wil and I will have space for one additional person; first email reply to this message gets the seat for the Friday 23 Jan 2015survey.
Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, US-SC Jan 14, 2015 10:02 AM - 4:42 PM Protocol: Traveling 13.1 mile(s) Comments: Conducting both the mid-winter Bald Eagle survey and the mid-winter waterfowlsurvey. Effort: 11.0 mi and 1 hr 30 min by truck plus 5 hr 10 min by foot. Weather: overcast and cold; temps 38 F to 42 F; winds N at 10 mph; barometer was 30.20 in Hg. Tide was forecast low at 0.7 ft at 8:04 AM the high at 4.2 ft at1:52 PM. <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3 72 species (+1 other taxa)
Gadwall 720 A fairly accurate count. American Wigeon 84 American Black Duck 3 Mallard 4 Mottled Duck 23 American Black/Mottled Duck 4 On the wing at distance against overcast sky--unable to identify to species. Northern Shoveler 156 A fairly accurate count. Northern Pintail 8 Green-winged Teal 46 Redhead 64 A fairly accurate count. Ring-necked Duck 2 Lesser Scaup 282 Bufflehead 144 A fairly accurate count. Hooded Merganser 218 A fairly accurate count. Red-breasted Merganser 20 Ruddy Duck 289 A fairly accurate count. Pied-billed Grebe 61 A fairly accurate count. Horned Grebe 6 Double-crested Cormorant 35 Anhinga 1 American White Pelican 47 Brown Pelican 10 American Bittern 1 Great Blue Heron 10 Great Egret 45 Snowy Egret 49 Little Blue Heron 13 Tricolored Heron 9 Green Heron 5 An accurate count. Clear views if each one. Black-crowned Night-Heron 54 A fairly accurate count. White Ibis 174 A fairly accurate count. Black Vulture 2 Turkey Vulture 9 Osprey 1 Northern Harrier 1 Bald Eagle 4 3 mature plus 1 immature Red-tailed Hawk 1 Clapper Rail 3 Sora 3 Common Gallinule 37 American Coot 1064 A reasonable estimate. Grey Plover 10 Semipalmated Plover 8 Piping Plover 1 No apparent leg bands or flags. Spotted Sandpiper 1 Greater Yellowlegs 13 Willet 8 Marbled Godwit 1 Ruddy Turnstone 2 Red Knot 1 Sanderling 1 Dunlin 1000 Estimate. Western Sandpiper 100 Wilson's Snipe 1 Bonaparte's Gull 3 Ring-billed Gull 4 Forster's Tern 107 A fairly accurate count. Mourning Dove 2 Belted Kingfisher 4 Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted) 2 Peregrine Falcon 1 Eastern Phoebe 1 Blue Jay 20 Tree Swallow 250 Carolina Wren 1 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 6 Chipping Sparrow 7 Song Sparrow 2 Swamp Sparrow 1 Northern Cardinal 1 Red-winged Blackbird 20 Boat-tailed Grackle 5
Wil Christenson and Pam Ford joined me today for the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebirdsurvey. USF&WS got us out to the island early (thanks, Greg) and safely back (thanks, Sarah).
Jack's Creek water levels have dropped appreciably (and will drop much further) in preparation for beginning construction of a new dike across that impoundment. The water level sure seemed to make the Gadwall happy as I probably saw more Gadwall butts up in the air than any other position. The Willet and Greater Yellowlegs also seemed to appreciate the water level judging by their high numbers in Jack's. The water level at Upper Summerhouse Pond may be slightly higher (impression only--I'm sure that a new staff gauge to measure water levels will be installed with the upcoming trunk installation); there were no shorebirds at USP and many fewerwaterfowl than over the past two months of terrific waterfowl counts there.
We tallied 42 species on the survey proper and 61 species on the whole day's outing. Our eBird checklist for just the island (i.e., not the boat ride out for which I submitted a separate checklist) is appended, below, FYI. Jack's Creek and the oceanfront marsh were the best of the survey today followed closely by the North Beach. We saw high numbers of Pied-billed Grebe, Black-crowned Night Heron, Bufflehead, Gadwall, Ruddy Duck, Hooded Merganser, American Coot, Western Sandpiper, Forester's Tern, and Red-breasted Merganser. There were finally a few shorebirds on the North Beach today, most of which appeared to have flushed from the large sand bar in Bulls Bay to the North Beach right as we walked out. The same sandbar had a Great Black-backed Gull.
The bird of the day we didn't even see, however. Sarah Dawsey, the Refuge Manager, reported 3 Roseate Spoonbills from a corner of Jack's Creek that we skipped on our slightly foreshortened survey today. "Very pink," she said. Thanks for your report, Sarah.
Avian misses of note included American Black Duck and Redhead.
And one that fooled us…we heard a persistent, squeaky, croaky note coming from the deep woods right beside the parked truck. All three of us were intensely focused on this sound trying to identify it. Wil moved into the thick pine forest steadily closing in on the sound wondering why the bird didn't flush. When he came right on top of the continuing creaky call, he noticed the downed pine limbs moving in time with the croak and finally determined that it was wind-blown limb-on-limb movements causing the creak. Wonderfully chagrined and laughing out loud, we each did our own mental exercises to remember that sound so as not to be fooled again. We were ready to declare a new species…pine bough bird (an auditory cousin to leaf birds, stick birds, and stump birds that everyone is familiar with).
Despite the cold temperatures there were a few mosquitoes about today, but the most interesting non-avian wildlife sighting was a clutch of brown bats that Sarah found huddled in a sink in the work shed. The bats were very sluggish (likely from the cold?), hardly moving at all. They were not longer than my finger, and their fur was surprisingly fine and soft to the touch. We also saw several Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin (both in Bulls Bay and off the North Beach) but didn't see the first American alligator (Wil and Pam, do you recall seeing any alligators?).
Looking ahead at the tide calendar suggests the following dates for our next waterfowl/shorebirdsurvey:
Th 22 Jan 2015 6.1 ft high tide at 8:59 AM
Fri 23 Jan 2015 5.9 ft high tide at 9:49 AM
Sat 24 Jan 2015 5.6 ft high tide at 10:41 AM
Mon 26 Jan 2015 4.9 ft high tide at 12:32 PM
Stay tuned for further plans.
In a final wrap up to 2014, I'd like to thank the 19 of you who volunteered with me over the past year to complete the surveys. Together you contributed an estimated 229 hours and 45 minutes of your time to the USF&WS in service to the waterfowl and shorebirds of Bulls Island. On behalf of all of them…Thank You!
Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, US-SC Jan 9, 2015 8:45 AM - 2:00 PM Protocol: Traveling 8.649 mile(s) Comments: Conducting the ongoing Bulls Islandwaterfowl/shorebirdsurveywith Wil Christenson and Pam Ford. Effort: 7.3 mi and 1 hr by truck plus 1.35 mi and 4 hr 15 min by foot. Weather: overcast early quickly clearing to full sun, cold, and windy; temps 36 F to 52 F; winds NW at 15 mph with gusts to 20 mph; barometer: 30.35 in Hg and falling. Tide was forecast 4.9 ft high at10:03 AM. <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3 58 species (+3 other taxa) Gadwall 841 A fairly accurate count. American Wigeon 13 Mottled Duck 12 Blue-winged Teal 1 Northern Shoveler 67 Green-winged Teal 3 Lesser Scaup 98 scoter sp. 3 Bufflehead 274 A fairly accurate count. Hooded Merganser 226 A fairly accurate count. Red-breasted Merganser 12 Ruddy Duck 257 A fairly accurate count. Pied-billed Grebe 61 A fairly accurate count. Horned Grebe 21 A surprisingly high count; 3 in Jack's Creek and the balance in Bulls Bay. Northern Gannet 2 Double-crested Cormorant 33 Anhinga 1 American White Pelican 29 Brown Pelican 6 Great Blue Heron 4 Great Egret 10 Snowy Egret 12 Tricolored Heron 4 Black-crowned Night-Heron 59 Jack's Creek. White Ibis 156 A fairly accurate count. Black Vulture 2 Turkey Vulture 4 Osprey 1 Northern Harrier 2 Bald Eagle 2 2 mature. Clapper Rail 2 Common Gallinule 6 American Coot 495 Grey Plover 24 Semipalmated Plover 208 A fairly accurate estimate. Piping Plover 2 No apparent leg bands or flags. Killdeer 1 Spotted Sandpiper 1 Greater Yellowlegs 60 Part of a large mixed flock with Willet. Willet 47 Ruddy Turnstone 18 A fairly accurate count. Sanderling 127 A fairly accurate count. Dunlin 1130 A fairly accurate estimate. Western Sandpiper 70 Short-billed Dowitcher 2 Ring-billed Gull 8 Great Black-backed Gull 1 gull sp. 100 Forster's Tern 103 Both resting on dead trees and many on the wing. Belted Kingfisher 2 crow sp. 2 Tree Swallow 4 Marsh Wren 1 Common Starling 15 Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle) 8 Eastern Towhee 1 Savannah Sparrow 1 Song Sparrow 1 Swamp Sparrow 1 Red-winged Blackbird 6 Common Grackle 500 View this checklist online athttp://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S21270054 This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)