19 August 2015

Tu 18 Aug 2015 survey: Piping Plovers and many Snowy Egrets

W 19 Aug 2015

   Wil Christenson and I had a great, damp day on Bulls Island yesterday for the ongoing waterfowl/shorebird survey. Coastal Expeditions once again graciously provided our boating transportation out and back. We arrived on the island after a brief rain shower that dampened only our clothing and gear but not our enjoyment of the day's outing. The van that we drove around the island protected us from the rest of the day's intermittent rain. And what spectacular BIG skyscapes we had all day long between rain clouds, bright cumulus clouds, and patchy sunshine!

   The shorebirds continue passing through on fall migration. We tallied 47 species on the survey proper, 63 species on the island, plus 21 species on the ferry. Our eBird checklist from the island, created and submitted by Wil who subsequently shared it with me, is appended below, FYI. We had an impressive 11 Piping Plovers resting together (3 with leg bands that will be reported to the USGS banding lab), all on the North Beach. More impressive than that sighting was the massive collection of Snowy Egrets in Jack's Creek. I focused my scope on one view and counted 138 SNEG without moving the scope; I conservatively estimated 500 SNEG all together, none apparently bothered by the ongoing dike construction. The only waterfowl were a pair of flyover duck sp. (possibly Blue-winged Teal) that were outside of the survey area proper.

   Non-avian sighting included loggerhead sea turtle, fox squirrel, American alligator, scattered butterflies, and enough mosquitoes to drive less tolerant bodies to complete distraction; I almost yielded to the temptation to apply insect repellent.

   Repair of the breached dike between Pool 3 and Jack's Creek (along Alligator Alley) has begun and ought to be complete by the end of the week, weather permitting. Great news for both our survey effort and for the numerous ferry passengers hiking around the island. And the new sand dunes along the North Beach have an impressive collection of plants, sea oats and Carolina saltwort in particular, growing well; it's great to watch these ongoing, positive, natural changes on the island.

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

Tues 1 Sept 2015 6.3 ft high tide forecast at 10:23 AM
Wed 2 Sept 2015 6.2 ft high tide forecast at 11:18 AM 
Thurs 3 Sept 2015 6.1 ft high tide forecast at 12:16 PM


Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, South Carolina, US
Aug 18, 2015 9:14 AM - 3:48 PM
Protocol: Traveling
12.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island water/shorebird survey with David McLean. Effort: 9.5 mi and 1 hr 34 min by truck plus 2.5 mi and 5 hr by foot. Weather: overcast, calm and warm; temps 77 F to 87 F; winds SE at 0 mph to 5 mph; barometer steady at 30.07 in Hg. Tide was forecast 5.1 ft high at 11:21 AM;
Submitted from  BirdLog NA for Android v1.9.6
62 species (+1 other taxa)

duck sp.  2
Wood Stork  15
Double-crested Cormorant  1
Anhinga  1
Brown Pelican  89
Least Bittern  2
Great Blue Heron  3
Great Egret  67
Snowy Egret  500
Little Blue Heron  1
Tricolored Heron  24
Reddish Egret  6
Green Heron  7
Black-crowned Night-Heron  16
White Ibis  10
Glossy Ibis  2
Turkey Vulture  1
Osprey  1
Clapper Rail  1
Common Gallinule  13
Black-necked Stilt  2
American Oystercatcher  4
Grey Plover  43
Wilson's Plover  15
Semipalmated Plover  129
Piping Plover  11     Good Scope Views.  3 PIPLs were banded.  Color Combos were: Bird 1 UL Orange, LL Green, UR metal, LR split green and orange.  Bird 2 UL Metal, LL Blue, UR Orange Flag, LR Blue, Black.  Bird 3 UL orange flag, LL Yellow, Green,  UR Metal, LR Orange.
Spotted Sandpiper  3
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Willet  7
Lesser Yellowlegs  2
Whimbrel  1
Marbled Godwit  5
Ruddy Turnstone  14
Red Knot  8     Good scope views.
Sanderling  99
Least Sandpiper  2
Semipalmated Sandpiper  55
Western Sandpiper  37
Short-billed Dowitcher  24
Laughing Gull  87
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  1
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Least Tern  46
Gull-billed Tern  5
Caspian Tern  5
Black Tern  102
Common Tern  4
Forster's Tern  24
Royal Tern  56
Sandwich Tern  42
Black Skimmer  44
Mourning Dove  8
Barn Swallow  4
Carolina Wren  2
Northern Mockingbird  3
Pine Warbler  1
Seaside Sparrow  1
Northern Cardinal  5
Indigo Bunting  1
Red-winged Blackbird  4
Common Grackle  2
Boat-tailed Grackle  3

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

05 August 2015

4 Aug 2015 Survey. Shorebird migration is well underway, and the bird of the day was...three

Tues 4 Aug 2015

   The shorebird migration was under way on Bulls Island today during our regular waterfowl/shorebird survey. Irvin PItts, who drove down from Lexington early this AM, and Nolan Schillerstrom joined me today and contributed greatly to this ongoing volunteer surrey effort. Irvin was rewarded with two (I believe) year birds for his list and Nolan added two life list species to his. Many thanks to both of them for being so generous with their time, effort, and expertise.

   Coastal Expeditions, specifically Captain Richard Stuhr and First Mate Nick Johnson, graciously provided our boating transportation out to Bulls and back. I was pleasantly surprised to see that they had about 30 customers show up on a Tuesday morning in early August just after overnight showers had barely left the area. Fortunately the weather was terrific for us; skies were bright overcast (shading us from a strong August sun) with just a little direct sun breaking through after lunch, but the wind was a gentle land breeze that allowed the mosquitoes and deer flies to really swarm. Rainfall over the previous 2 days totaled approximately 1.5 inches leaving most of the island damp.

   We tallied 22 shorebird species today and 0, yes…zero, waterfowl. We had 51 target species on the survey proper, 66 species on the island, and 70 species for the ferry ride and the island combined. Adding Irvin's checklist for Garris Landing brings our total for the day up to 78. Not too bad for early August. This may have been the first time that we've not recorded even one duck on the survey, but that was OK because the diversity of shorebirds completely distracted us from that fact. 

   The "bird of the day" was a Pectoral Sandpiper on the edge of Jack's that posed for Irvin's camera; after walking out into Jack's Creek we very quickly tallied 7 additional Pectoral Sandpipers! I was really enjoying seeing so many "birds of the day" until we nearly immediately tallied a new "bird of the day," 3 Stilt Sandpipers. But that was again almost immediately replaced by yet another "bird of the day," a first record for the survey (I think) and a first eBird record for Bulls Island: Wilson's Phalarope! Actually 2 WIPH swimming in the shallow water together! I guess this was a "three birds of the day" kind of day.

   Other notable shorebird species tallied today included Piping Plover, Whimbrel, Marbled Godwit, Red Knot, and all three peep sandpipers (Western, Semipalmated, and Least). It was a good day for shorebird species on the island. Other notable target species included Great Back-backed Gull and Roseate Spoonbill (the first I've seen on Bulls since February). The "trash bird" of the day must have been Black Tern (76) as we seemed to see them everywhere either resting on the sand or soaring on wing. 

   Interesting non-target species included Red-shouldered Hawk, Mississippi Kite, Swallow-tailed Kite, and Yellow Warbler. Our eBird checklist from the island is appended below.

   Avian misses included Mottled Duck, Black-bellied Whistling Duck (strange how a species that had never been recorded on Bulls prior to May 2014 has now become a "missed" species), Purple Gallinule (very recently reported to CEX's Nick who reported it to me), and Reddish Egret. 

   Non-avian sightings included Atlantic bottlenose dolphin (including one that fully breached in the ocean immediately beyond the breakers!) and numerous butterflies and dragonflies. We missed seeing fox squirrels.

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

Mon 17 Aug 2015 5.0 ft high tide forecast at 10:17 AM
Tues 18 Aug 2015 5.0 ft high tide forecast at 10:55 AM
Wed 19 Aug 2015 4.9 ft high tide forecast at 11:34 AM
Th 20 Aug 2015 4.9 ft high tide forecast at12:14 PM

Looking forward to continued fall migration!


Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, South Carolina, US
Aug 4, 2015 9:45 AM - 3:35 PM
Protocol: Traveling
13.4 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey with Irvin Pitts and Nolan Schillerstrom. Effort: 10.4 mi and 1 hr 30 min by truck plus 3.0 mi and 4 hr 20 min by foot. Weather: recent rains, bright overcast, land breeze, warm, and humid; sun peaked out a few times after lunch; temps 78 F to 86 F; winds W to NW at 5 mph to 10 mph shifting to mostly S winds about 3 PM; barometer rising to 29.95 in Hg. Tide was forecast 5.7 ft high at 11:38 AM.  <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3
65 species (+1 other taxa)

Wood Stork  7
Double-crested Cormorant  9
Anhinga  2
Brown Pelican  91
Least Bittern  1
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  9
Snowy Egret  70
Little Blue Heron  1
Tricolored Heron  10
Green Heron  10
Black-crowned Night-Heron  8
White Ibis  14
Glossy Ibis  23
Roseate Spoonbill  1
Swallow-tailed Kite  1
Mississippi Kite  3
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Common Gallinule  12
Black-necked Stilt  8
American Oystercatcher  3
Grey Plover  47
Wilson's Plover  4
Semipalmated Plover  103     A fairly accurate count.
Piping Plover  7     None appeared to have either leg bands or leg flags.
Killdeer  8
Spotted Sandpiper  12     A fairly accurate count. Some showing spots, some not.
Greater Yellowlegs  5
Willet  106     A fairly accurate count.
Lesser Yellowlegs  10
Whimbrel  6     An accurate count.
Marbled Godwit  3
Ruddy Turnstone  39     A fairly accurate count.
Red Knot  70     Most still showing red breeding plumage.
Stilt Sandpiper  3
Sanderling  81     Most still showing breeding plumage.
Least Sandpiper  1
Pectoral Sandpiper  8
Semipalmated Sandpiper  60
Western Sandpiper  9
peep sp.  392     Most likely Semipalmated Sandpiper.
Short-billed Dowitcher  53
Wilson's Phalarope  2     Scope view in good light; observed swimming in shallow water; quickly and confidently identified as a phalarope; long-necked and rather erect posture, residual rusty red on neck. Other 2 phalarope species eliminated.
Laughing Gull  62
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  1
Great Black-backed Gull  1
Least Tern  45     A fairly accurate count.
Gull-billed Tern  3
Black Tern  76
Forster's Tern  6     A fairly accurate count.
Royal Tern  129
Sandwich Tern  15
Black Skimmer  54
Mourning Dove  5
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  2
Belted Kingfisher  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  3
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Marsh Wren  1
Carolina Wren  1
Northern Mockingbird  3
Yellow Warbler  1
Northern Cardinal  4
Painted Bunting  2
Red-winged Blackbird  20

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