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.
09 January 2015
Fri 9 Jan 2015 survey
Fri 9 Jan 2015
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)