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
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
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.
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
View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24501064
This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (/content/iss)