10 April 2015

Thurs 9 Apr 2015

Thurs 9 Apr 2015

   Wil Christenson and Mary Lou Dickson joined me today for the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. Coastal Expeditions once again was our boating transportation sponsor. (They had a great day taking more than 80 folks over to Bulls, most seeking to shake off their winter clothes and soak up the warm weather that greeted us today. As for me…I'm quite happy going to Bulls at any temperature.) Many thanks, CEX.

   Jack's Creek has really dropped, very much by design. New dike construction has not yet begun but could start any day now, I understand. In the meantime, extensive mud flats are exposed, drying and cracking quickly in the sun and wind. Looking at isolated dried mud flats there in Jack's reminds me of so many of the images coming out of California and their continuing severe drought. Pool 3 has dropped greatly, too, what with the failed dike on Alligator Alley. On the SW end of the island, Upper Summerhouse Pond (USP) is filled nearly to the brim--a great recovery from last September's dike failure there. And salinities across the island are very low with impoundments (excepting Jack's with 11 ppt) registering 0 ppt (measured by refractometer).

   We tallied 42 species on the survey proper, 63 (at least) species on the day's outing. (And that doesn't include the usually productive marshes between Garris Landing and Bulls Island--we motored over at speed, not counting birds, so that Captain Wil could return to pilot a second ferry for the CEX customers.) Our eBird checklist for the island is appended, below, FYI.

   This draw down of Jack's is really paying off for the resident and migrant shorebirds right now. There were so many shorebirds across Jack's that there were only two Black-bellied Plovers and fewer than 10 wading birds in all of the oceanfront marsh at Jack's where there are usually multiple thousands of shorebirds. At normal water levels in Jack's there are rarely any shorebirds at all; today there were Black-bellied Plovers, Killdeer, Black-necked Stilts, Marbled Godwits, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Willet, Dunlin, peep sandpipers (Calidris spp., estimated 1670), and Short-billed Dowitchers. Additionally there were several waterfowl species including Northern Shoveler, Green-winged Teal, Blue-winged Teal, and Mottled Duck. The North Beach also produced an impressive raft of (est.) 1500 Black Scoter, the largest such raft that I've seen anywhere along the S.C. coast this winter past.

   Avian misses today included Black-crowned Night Heron, Semipalmated Plover, Piping Plover, Hooded Merganser, American Oystercatcher, Sanderling, and American White Pelican. First-of-season (FOS) sightings (for me) included Black-necked Stilt, Least Tern, and Gull-billed Tern.

   Non-avian sightings were limited today, primarily numerous American alligators and many mosquitos (being very persistent in the face of steady SW winds). And we didn't see the first ferry passenger until about 1:30 PM. I've always liked that about Bulls: even though the island may have many people, I usually feel like we have it to ourselves.

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

Wed 22 Apr 2015 high tide 5.0 ft at 11:28 AM
Th 23 Apr 2015 high tide 4.7 ft at 12:20 PM
Fri 24 Apr 2015 high tide 4.6 ft at 1:14 PM

I will send out a volunteer recruitment email once the date is set.



P.S. As a shout out to Coastal Expeditions, check out their Cape Romain Lighthouses tour announced for this Sunday plus three other 2015 dates (http://bullsislandferry.com/index.php?page=Cape-Romain-Lighthouses-Tour).

Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, US-SC
Apr 9, 2015 8:50 AM - 3:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
15.8 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey with Wil Christenson and Mary Lou Dickson. Effort: birding from truck; 12.8 mi and 1 hr 30 min by truck plus 3.0 mi and 4 hr 40 min by foot. Weather: sunny and warm; temps 70 F to 79 F; winds SW at 10 mph to 15 mph; barometer 30.10 in Hg. Those was forecast 4.6 ft high at 11:30 AM.  <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3
62 species (+1 other taxa)

Mottled Duck  32
Blue-winged Teal  383
Northern Shoveler  39     A fairly accurate count.
Green-winged Teal  20
Lesser Scaup  1
Black Scoter  1500     Estimate. Scope views from moderate distance.
Pied-billed Grebe  28
Horned Grebe  2
Double-crested Cormorant  20
Anhinga  2
Brown Pelican  2
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  32
Snowy Egret  78     A fairly accurate count.
Little Blue Heron  5
Tricolored Heron  22
Green Heron  4
White Ibis  18
Glossy Ibis  26
Black Vulture  1
Turkey Vulture  5
Osprey  1
Northern Harrier  2
Bald Eagle  4     3 mature plus 1 immature
Clapper Rail  2
Sora  1
Common Gallinule  38
American Coot  54     A fairly accurate count.
Black-necked Stilt  55     A fairly accurate count.
Grey Plover  21
Wilson's Plover  2
Killdeer  1
Greater Yellowlegs  20
Willet  45
Lesser Yellowlegs  380     A fairly accurate count/estimate.
Marbled Godwit  1
Ruddy Turnstone  2
Red Knot  4
Dunlin  93
peep sp.  1670     Unable to ID to species due to poor light and great distance.
Short-billed Dowitcher  204     A fairly accurate count.
Laughing Gull  25
Ring-billed Gull  3
Herring Gull  2
Least Tern  1
Gull-billed Tern  2
Forster's Tern  30
Royal Tern  22
Mourning Dove  6
Tree Swallow  4
Barn Swallow  8
Carolina Chickadee  1
Tufted Titmouse  1
Northern Mockingbird  1
Northern Parula  1
Pine Warbler  1
Savannah Sparrow  2
Swamp Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  2
Painted Bunting  1
Red-winged Blackbird  40
Eastern Meadowlark  3
Boat-tailed Grackle  30

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (/content/iss)

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