18 September 2015

Late summer survey shows, perhaps, the last of the summer residents while fall shorebird migration continues

Fri 18 Sept 2015

   Even under heavy overcast skies and light rain yesterday the golden seed pods of the Spartina alterniflora saltmarsh cordgrass continue to herald the arrival of fall in the Cape Romain NWR. 

   David Gardner and Aubrey Greene, each an accomplished naturalist and birder, joined me yesterday for the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. Wil Christenson and Nick Johnson were busy running us over to the island on the Coastal Expeditions ferry so were unable to join the day's survey effort, but we couldn't have done it without them. Thanks, CEX, for your continuing support.

   It was David and Aubrey's first trip to Bulls Island, and each of them tallied good birding observations. David was able to add four, maybe five, new species to his Charleston County list, and Aubrey tallied at least one life list species.

   Summer resident avian species are in declining numbers and fall migration continues. We tallied 30 species on the ferry, 50 target species on the island, 69 total species on the island, and 75 species on the whole day's outing. Our eBird checklist from the island is appended, below, FYI. Notable sightings included Reddish Egret, Blue-winged Teal, American Black/Mottled Duck, Sora, Piping Plover, American Avocet, Caspian Tern, Common Tern, and Wilson's Phalarope.

   Recent rains have raised the water level in Jack's Creek a couple of inches (as a guess), but, since Jack's is so shallow, those very few inches spread out the water surface appreciably. Most of the bottom remains exposed, however, and continues to attract shorebirds and even a few ducks. Now that the failed dike between Pool 3 and Jack's has been repaired, the water levels in Pool 3 are beginning to rise, but there has been a significant growth of tall plants that is, at least visually, choking out Pool 3. Maybe those plants will die off once that pool is fully reflooded. And the North Beach continues to accrete with early dune formation supported by vigorous vegetative growth, especially Carolina saltwort and sea oats.

   Thanking both David and Aubrey, we had had frequent naturalist discussions of different non-avian observations that we had on the day including seashore-elder growing just above the high tide mark on the accreting North Beach, monarch butterflies, banded water snakes, yellow flies (a.k.a. deer flies), a shark (blacktip, maybe bonnethead, 24 inches to 30 inches, dorsal fin and tail showing a distinct black trailing margin) swimming in 6 inches of water at the edge of the surf, and Atlantic bottle-nosed dolphins.

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

Wed 30 Sept 2015 6.7 ft high tide forecast at 10:02 AM
Thurs 1 Oct 2015 6.5 ft high tide forecast at 10:56 AM
Fri 2 Oct 2015 6.3 ft high tide forecast at 11:52 AM


Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, South Carolina, US
Sep 17, 2015 9:53 AM - 3:33 PM
Protocol: Traveling
14.1 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey with David Gardner and Aubrey Greene. Effort: 10.6 mi and 1 hr 30 min by truck plus 3.5 mi and 4 hr 10 min by foot. Weather: overcast with trace rain all day; temps 72 F to 75 F; winds relatively steady from NNE at 8 mph to 10 mph; barometer steady at 30.10 in Hg. Tide was forecast 5.3 ft high at 10:54 AM.  <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3
68 species (+1 other taxa)

Wood Duck  1
American Black/Mottled Duck  3     No white trailing edge at speculum, plus a very vertical takeoff from water
Mallard  2
Mottled Duck  25
Blue-winged Teal  63
Pied-billed Grebe  8
Wood Stork  1
Double-crested Cormorant  34     Many on sand bar off North Beach
Anhinga  1
American White Pelican  18
Brown Pelican  140     Many on sand bar off North Beach
Great Blue Heron  2
Great Egret  8
Snowy Egret  14
Little Blue Heron  1
Tricolored Heron  5
Reddish Egret  5
Black-crowned Night-Heron  3
White Ibis  12
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  2
Clapper Rail  4
Sora  1
Common Gallinule  21
Black-necked Stilt  1
American Avocet  2
American Oystercatcher  2
Grey Plover  19
Semipalmated Plover  159     Most in oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek
Piping Plover  4     No observed leg bands or flags.
Killdeer  1
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  8
Willet  37
Lesser Yellowlegs  14
Ruddy Turnstone  14
Sanderling  124     Dispersed through Jack's, North Beach, and oceanfront marsh at Jack's
Least Sandpiper  1
Pectoral Sandpiper  2
Semipalmated Sandpiper  98     A fairly accurate estimate
Western Sandpiper  102
peep sp.  80     Unidentified sandpiper species
Short-billed Dowitcher  20
Wilson's Phalarope  1
Laughing Gull  27
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Gull-billed Tern  2
Caspian Tern  34
Black Tern  2
Common Tern  1
Forster's Tern  2
Royal Tern  5
Black Skimmer  42
Mourning Dove  4
Ruby-throated Hummingbird  1
Belted Kingfisher  3
Eastern Kingbird  12
Blue Jay  2
Carolina Chickadee  3
Carolina Wren  5
Blue-grey Gnatcatcher  1
Eastern Bluebird  2
Northern Mockingbird  1
Common Yellowthroat  3
Northern Cardinal  4
Painted Bunting  3
Bobolink  4
Red-winged Blackbird  6
Boat-tailed Grackle  2

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

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