19 June 2015

19 June 2015 Bulls Island birds in full summer mode

Fri 19 June 2015

   John Ptolemy joined me today for the Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. Wil Christenson had on his Captain's hat today operating the Coastal Expeditions (CEX) ferry along with first mate Nick Johnson. They graciously got us out to the island and back, but Wil was unable to join us on the survey. Many thanks to CEX for their generous and ongoing support. 

   As a brief (and frankly shameless) plug, check out CEX's Cape Romain Lighthouse tour scheduled for this Sunday 21 June 2015, Father's Day: http://www.bullsislandferry.com/index.php?page=Cape-Romain-Lighthouses-Tour. It is a special treat as they are allowed to have only four such lighthouse tours annually.

   Jack's Creek is about to completely dry up excepting the marginal ditches (most created during earlier dike construction, I believe) and the new ditches being dug to build the new dike. The two Mottled Ducks that we saw in Jack's were pathetically standing around on the drying mud rather than doing ducky things in any of the other impoundments that are holding high quality water. The intense heat and sun are undoubtedly causing rapid evaporation across the island, but all of the other impoundments not affected by dike failure (Pool 3) or let-down (Jack's) are still holding their water levels fairly well.

   It seems that the Bulls Island birds are in full summer mode, entirely appropriate since the summer solstice is in two days. Shorebird migration that was so great through May (peaking with 7572 surveyed individuals on 15 May 2015) has mostly finished (841 total survey individuals today). We had 51 species on the day's outing, 49 species on the island, and 35 species on the survey proper. We had few non-target species. Our eBird checklist from the island is appended, below, FYI. 

   Bird of the day was definitely the pair of American Avocets vigorously foraging in the very little water left in Jack's Creek. Other notable avian sightings included numerous juvenile Black-bellied Plovers (listed below as Grey Plover, a persistent quirk that eBird throws at me), White-rumped Sandpipers, Semipalmated Sandpipers, Red Knots, Sanderlings, Short-billed Dowitchers, Common Terns, and a Swallow-tailed Kite.

   Avian misses included Great Blue Heron, Spotted Sandpiper, Reddish Egret, Black Tern, and Black-bellied Whistling Duck. 

   Non-avian sightings included fox squirrels, horseshoe crab (just one, I suppose that egg laying is largely over for this season), bottle-nosed dolphin (including a large pod of well more than 6 seen at shark hole immediately behind Bulls; Wil suggested that such large pods usually indicate the offshore population uncharacteristically coming inshore), loggerhead turtles (seen from the ferry), various dragonflies and butterflies, and American alligators (all staying cool in the water).

   No plans yet for the next survey. I'll study the tidal calendars and send out a recruitment email later.


Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, South Carolina, US
Jun 19, 2015 9:37 AM - 3:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
13.899 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey with John Ptolemy. Effort: 9.4 mi and 1 hr 30 min by truck plus 4.5 mi and 4 hr 15 min by foot. Weather: sunny and hot; temps 83 F to 86 F; winds S at 10 mph with gusts to 14 mph; barometer falling from 30.07 in Hg. High tide was forecast 4.65 ft at 10:37 AM.  <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3
49 species

Mottled Duck  2
Wood Stork  9
Double-crested Cormorant  2
Anhinga  9
Brown Pelican  56
Least Bittern  3
Great Egret  30
Snowy Egret  63
Tricolored Heron  9
Green Heron  3
Black-crowned Night-Heron  1
White Ibis  7
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  1
Swallow-tailed Kite  1
Common Gallinule  6
Black-necked Stilt  24     A fairly accurate count.
American Avocet  2     Orange/brown head, recurved bill, black and white body plumage.
American Oystercatcher  4
Grey Plover  79     2 in full alternate plumage, 1 in partial alternate plumage, and 76 likely juveniles.
Wilson's Plover  7
Semipalmated Plover  45     A fairly accurate count.
Killdeer  2
Willet  11
Ruddy Turnstone  5     An accurate count.
Red Knot  3     Rusty breast, straight intermediate bill. An accurate count.
Sanderling  12     A fairly accurate count.
White-rumped Sandpiper  2     Scoped side-by-side with Semipalmated Sandpipers. WRSA were distinctly larger, with wing tips extending beyond tail, and  had slightly decurved bill tip.
Semipalmated Sandpiper  25
Short-billed Dowitcher  220     A fairly accurate count.
Laughing Gull  73
Gull-billed Tern  6
Caspian Tern  2     Larger than nearby Royal Terns, deep red bill.
Common Tern  6     Short legs, red and black bill, long primary extension. Scoped side-by-side with Royal Terns and near to Sandwich Terns for easy comparisons.
Forster's Tern  4
Royal Tern  109
Sandwich Tern  26
Black Skimmer  41
Mourning Dove  3
Great Crested Flycatcher  2
Barn Swallow  5
Marsh Wren  4
Northern Mockingbird  2
Northern Cardinal  3
Painted Bunting  1
Red-winged Blackbird  30
Common Grackle  2
Boat-tailed Grackle  7
Orchard Oriole  4

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

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