06 May 2015

Sun 3 May 2015. Charleston Spring Bird Count: Least Bitterns, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Surf Scoter, and Black Rail

Tues 5 May 2015

   On Sunday 3 May 2015 Wil Christenson and Starr Hazard joined me on Bulls Island to participate in the Charleston Spring Bird Count. As they have so wonderfully done before, Coastal Expeditions (CEX) was our boating sponsor, enabling us to set our own schedule over and back to Bulls. And the Cape Romain NWR/US Fish & Wildlife Service sponsored our truck transportation on the island. Many thanks, CEX and CRNWR/USF&WS!

   Sunday's effort was different from the waterfowl/shorebird surveys that I routinely conduct on Bulls. Using the same 15 mile diameter circle on the map as the Charleston Christmas Bird Count, the Charleston Spring Count surveys the same circle, including Bulls Island, and is scheduled in early May to target the peak spring migration through the S.C. Lowcountry. 

   Specifically for Bulls Island, the island is divided into North and South sections, each with it's own group of counters. The South section includes the landing dock on Bulls, the picnic grounds at the Dominick House, Beach Road out to the beach, and all areas south of that line; everything north of this Beach Road line from the landing out to the beach is the North section. I lead the group through the South section, and Mary Catherine Martin lead a group of three over the North section. That meant that we had six counters covering the two Bulls Island sections for the count. My report, here, covers the South section where we tallied 78 species on the day's outing (including the ferry ride between Garris Landing and Bulls Island). Our eBird checklists for both the Bulls Island Ferry and our South section of Bulls Island are appended, below, FYI. 

   We were especially grateful for an opportunity to bird sections of the island that we rarely are able to cover comprehensively on the waterfowl/shorebird surveys. In particular we very much enjoyed birding the picnic grounds at the Dominick House, one of my absolute favorite locations to bird along the entire S.C. coast. When you go birding on Bulls, make time (year-round!) to include the picnic grounds in your efforts (and the earlier in the AM the better, so begin your day's birding by spending quality time at the picnic grounds).

   Avian highlights on the day included Least Bittern (14 of 'em--our "trash bird" of the day!), Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Surf Scoter, Sandwich Tern, Indigo Bunting, Painted Bunting, Blue Grosbeak, Orchard Oriole, Red-breasted Merganser, and Black Rail. 

   Non-avian sightings on the day included black racer (snake), fox squirrel, Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphin, loggerhead sea turtle, bobcat scat, butterflies, Carolina saddlebags and other dragonflies, damsel flies, and various and numerous amphibians taking great advantage of the generally well-hydrated island.



Bull's Island Ferry, Charleston, US-SC
May 3, 2015 8:30 AM - 8:56 AM
Protocol: Traveling
4.15 mile(s)
Comments:     With Wil Christenson and Starr Hazard. Weather: sunny and warm; 66 F; winds NW at 3 mph. Tide was forecast 4.8 ft high at 7:56 AM. <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3
19 species

Red-breasted Merganser  1
Wood Stork  1
Double-crested Cormorant  18
Brown Pelican  1
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  2
Snowy Egret  6
American Oystercatcher  2
Semipalmated Plover  18
Spotted Sandpiper  2
Willet  16
Whimbrel  10
Dunlin  10
Short-billed Dowitcher  60
Laughing Gull  15
Gull-billed Tern  4
Forster's Tern  19
Barn Swallow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  2

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

Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, US-SC
May 3, 2015 9:19 AM - 3:33 PM
Protocol: Traveling
7.75 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the Spring Bird Count with David McLean and Star Hazard. Effort: One hour and 5.5 miles by car and 5 hours and  2.25  miles on foot. Weather: clear, sunny, and warm; temps 62 F to 76 F; winds S to SW at 5-10 mph; barometer 30.20 in Hg. Tide was forecast 4.8 ft high at 7:56 AM, 0.0 ft low at 1:59 PM.
 Submitted from  BirdLog NA for Android v1.9.6
70 species

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  7
Wood Duck  4
Mottled Duck  14
Blue-winged Teal  14
Surf Scoter  1     Black bird with yellow bill. sharply defined white patch on lower head and neck. white spot was taller than wide.   whitish trim at base of bill.  bird was also observed diving several times.  Pictures: <iframe src="https://www.flickr.com/photos/33478772@N05/17365246772/in/photostream/player/" width="640" height="426" frameborder="0"></iframe>
<iframe src="https://www.flickr.com/photos/33478772@N05/17179621910/in/photostream/player/" width="640" height="426" frameborder="0"></iframe>
<iframe src="https://www.flickr.com/photos/33478772@N05/16746915693/in/photostream/player/" width="640" height="426" frameborder="0"></iframe>
Black Scoter  150     Black birds with orange base on black bill.  Observed in large raft on ocean front. Good Views in Scope.  Too far for photos.
Pied-billed Grebe  2
Double-crested Cormorant  9
Anhinga  9
Brown Pelican  13
American Bittern  1
Least Bittern  14
Great Egret  8
Snowy Egret  3
Tricolored Heron  1
Cattle Egret  1
Green Heron  6
Black-crowned Night-Heron  2
White Ibis  55
Glossy Ibis  3
Black Vulture  2
Turkey Vulture  6
Osprey  3
Bald Eagle  1
Black Rail  1     very smaill, dark rail. Smaller than Sora and chunky. Quick run across mud flat on salt marshs ide of impoundmemt followed by fast wingbeat , thirty yard flight to edge of spartina grass.
Common Gallinule  13
American Coot  4
Grey Plover  2
Spotted Sandpiper  5
Solitary Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Willet  4
Lesser Yellowlegs  1
Whimbrel  4
Sanderling  12
Laughing Gull  18
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  1
Least Tern  1
Forster's Tern  3
Royal Tern  1
Sandwich Tern  6
Black Skimmer  50     a conservative estimate.  On the sandbar at Price Inlet.
Mourning Dove  1
Yellow-billed Cuckoo  2
Red-headed Woodpecker  1
Red-bellied Woodpecker  5
Great Crested Flycatcher  6
Eastern Kingbird  2
Blue Jay  5
Fish Crow  1
Tree Swallow  1
Barn Swallow  12
Carolina Chickadee  2
Tufted Titmouse  9
Carolina Wren  1
Brown Thrasher  1
Northern Mockingbird  2
Common Yellowthroat  3
Northern Parula  7
Chipping Sparrow  2
Northern Cardinal  6
Blue Grosbeak  3
Indigo Bunting  3
Painted Bunting  6
Red-winged Blackbird  75
Common Grackle  2
Boat-tailed Grackle  2
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Orchard Oriole  5

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

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