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.
10 March 2015
Tues 10 Mar 2015 survey
Th 12 Mar 2015
Wil Christenson and Katie Rittenhouse joined me this past Tuesday for the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. Katie has been performing waterfowl surveys at Santee NWR this winter (among her other duties), so it was great having her expertise here at the Cape Romain NWR for our survey. It was also a nice mini-reunion of our February MOCC (Motorboat Operator Certification Course) class, especially before Katie moves up to Minnesota(?) at the end of the month for her next USF&WS position. Coastal Expeditions graciously continues to work with us on boating transportation out to the island and back. It's truly wonderful being able to set our own time tables. Thanks, CEX!
Big changes have happened on the island and more really big changes should start any day now. The dike between Pool 3 and Jack's Creek failed last Friday 6 Mar 2015 immediately around the trunk. Much of the water in Pool 3 emptied into Jack's Creek compounding the effort to reduce the water level there in anticipation of the soon-to-begin new dike construction across Jack's. It never rains but it pours. As a silver lining, the salinity of Jack's has now dropped to 6 ppt as I measure it with my new refractometer, but I'm still trying to fully develop my skills with this new tool.
Because of this dike failure, we had to modify our drive around Jack's and didn't get to the North Beach or the oceanfront marsh at Jack's until later than usual w.r.t. the 11:10 AM high tide; we found both of these prime shorebird locations very short on shorebirds excepting a large flyby flight of Dunlin on the North Beach that likely came from the oceanfront marsh (virtually empty by the time we arrived there).
Now about those birds. We had 77 species total on our day's outing, 43 species on the survey proper. Our eBird checklist from the whole day's outing is appended, below, FYI. Waterfowl were still hanging around though in reduced numbers. Avian sightings of note include Northern Pintail, American Bittern, Wilson's Plover, Piping Plover, and first-of-season (FOS) singing Yellow-throated Warbler.
Non avian sightings included Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin, American alligator (MANY soaking up the warm sunshine!), and fox squirrel along with animal tracks from otter, mink, and dogs (yes, dogs; relatively fresh tracks, too; dogs are not allowed on the island except, I believe, on the beach below mean high water).
Spring is bursting out all over. Many birds have become quite vocal in just the last week or so. Many folks mark the earliest sign of spring with the first Yellow-throated Warblers singing (which I heard at Garris Landing immediately upon getting out of the car that morning.) I felt bad for every alligator that we flushed back into the water; at least it gives them something to do. ;-)
Looking ahead at the tidal calendar, and looking for a slightly-later-in-the-day high tide since our driving route will be altered until the Alligator Alley dike is repaired, we're considering the following dates for our next survey:
Tues 24 Mar 2015 5.1 ft high tide at 11:51 AM
Wed 25 Mar 2015 4.8 ft high tide at 12:45 PM
Thurs 26 Mar 2015 4.6 ft high tide at 1:42 PM
I've recently not sent out a specific recruiting email as volunteers have proactively replied to these report emails to state their preference to help with upcoming surveys. I'll continue to entertain volunteer requests similarly, so no recruitment email simply means that the spots are spoken for. Thanks for you continued assistance. And, as the Bartles and Jaymes ad men said, "Thank you for your support."
BirdLog Checklist Summary for: Mar 10, 2015 to Mar 12, 2015
Number of Checklists: 2
Number of Species: 77
Checklists included in this summary:
(1): Bull's Island Ferry
Date: Mar 10, 2015, 8:30
(2): Cape Romain NWR--Bull Island
Date: Mar 10, 2015, 9:25