30 October 2015

Halloween survey...trick of the tides and treats reported by others on the island

Fri 30 Oct 2015

   What a beautiful day we had on Bulls Island today for the ongoing waterfowl/shorebird survey. The Spartina alterniflora, aka saltmarsh cordgrass, glows golden in the early morning and late afternoon sunlight that is slanting closer to the horizon. Large numbers of American Oystercatchers have begun arriving to their winter home in the refuge. A few late shorebird migrants are still passing through and many of the winter resident shorebirds are beginning to arrive in number. Waterfowl were very scarce, but I don't really expect them to arrive in appreciable numbers for about a month.

   Cherrie Sneed joined me for today's survey. Coastal Expeditions' Captain Richard Stuhr and First Mate Nick Johnson gave us a great ride out to the island with prolonged views of hundreds of shorebirds massing on the first few private docks north of Garris Landing and great views of bottle-nosed dolphin on the return trip. Thanks, CEX, for the continued support of our survey efforts. 

   Do check out CEX's early December excursion for Long-billed Curlews. Similar trips in previous years filled up, so go ahead and sign up soon to reserve your seat. See their web site at: http://www.bullsislandferry.com/

   We tallied 72 species on the day's outing, 63 species on the island, and 34 target species for the survey proper. Our eBird checklist for the island is appended, below, FYI. We found 6 Piping Plovers on the North Beach, two of which sported colored leg bands. And among the estimated 250 Dunlin on the North Beach, two had leg flags! I've never seen flagged Dunlin before, so I was keen to record that data. I was able to read one of the two flags before the flock flushed. I'll report these sightings to the USGS Banded Bird Lab. Other birds of interest included a few late season Semipalmated Sandpipers, Reddish Egrets, American Coot (FOS), Bald Eagles, and American Avocet. Similar to our mid-October survey findings, Jack's Creek was once again nearly devoid of birds; we saw only 35 individuals of 7 avian species in Jack's. The other impoundments were similarly showing very few birds.

   We didn't see the bird of the day, however…it  was one reported to us by Tony and Denise Hargrove of Asheville, NC, whom we met on the ferry. They found and photographed a White-winged Dove! Their eBird checklist should come out in a couple of day's, so look for their report.

   We also missed the best overall sighting of the day. The USF&WS maintenance guys Greg Geathers and Al each saw a coyote on Bulls today. We've been anticipating their arrival for many months. I don't know what, if any, control measures the office will endorse regarding coyotes. Maybe the coyotes will take some of the top predator role once played by the placed red wolves. Maybe they'll not hang around at all. Should be interesting to learn. 

   Different beachfronts along the island have been affected differently by the almost relentless high (king) tides, ocean winds, and deluges. The North Beach was minimally affected while much of the Boneyard Beach and front beach have been significantly eroded both vertically and horizontally. Jack's Creek remains very full of water; I suspect that the dike construction has been placed on hold until the water levels drop again. 

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

Mon 16 Nov 2015 predicted 5.6 ft high tide at 10:22 AM
Tues 17 Nov 2015 predicted 5.5 ft high tide at 11:13 AM

Stay tuned for final plans.


Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, South Carolina, US
Oct 30, 2015 9:43 AM - 3:44 PM
Protocol: Traveling
13.999 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey with Cherrie Sneed. Effort: 11.5 mi and 1 hr 30 min by truck plus 2.5 mi and 4 hr by foot. Weather: sunny, 67 F to 73 F, NNW winds at 10 mph to 15 mph, barometer 30.00 in Hg and rising. Tide was forecast 6.5 ft high at 10:33 AM; Charleston harbor tide peaked at 6.8 ft at 10:30 AM.  <br />Submitted from BirdLog NA for iOS, version 1.6.3
63 species (+1 other taxa)

Gadwall  1     1 female.
Pied-billed Grebe  12
Wood Stork  2
Double-crested Cormorant  103     Counted some, estimated most.
Anhinga  2
American White Pelican  2
Brown Pelican  76
Great Blue Heron  3
Great Egret  7
Snowy Egret  4
Little Blue Heron  1
Tricolored Heron  4
Reddish Egret  4
Black Vulture  4
Turkey Vulture  7
Osprey  2
Northern Harrier  2
Bald Eagle  3     2 mature plus 1 immature.
Clapper Rail  2
Common Gallinule  4
American Coot  27
American Avocet  2
Grey Plover  12
Semipalmated Plover  43
Piping Plover  6     Two birds with leg bands. First: Green, orange, Aluminum numbered, green with orange stripe on lower L, upper L, upper R, lower R leg, respectively. 2nd bird: blue over orange, NO BAND, Aluminum numbered, pale green on lower L, upper L, upper R, and lower R, respectively.
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Willet  2
Ruddy Turnstone  3
Sanderling  130     A fairly accurate estimate.
Dunlin  380     Two birds with flags. First: Flagged L leg, green flag, yellow code 'NNX' and Aluminum numbered band in upper R leg.  2nd bird: L leg, green flag with yellow code, unable to read code before this bird flushed.
Semipalmated Sandpiper  5     Seen on North Beach with Dunlin, Sanderling, Semipalmated Plover, and other shorebirds, gulls, and terns. Peep sandpiper, dark legs, short bill with slightly bulbous tip, obviously not a long decurved bill.
Western Sandpiper  8
peep sp.  10     Unable to ID to species at distance.
Short-billed Dowitcher  2
Laughing Gull  20
Ring-billed Gull  2
Herring Gull  10
Caspian Tern  9
Royal Tern  87     A fairly accurate count.
Sandwich Tern  5
Mourning Dove  5
Belted Kingfisher  2
Eastern Phoebe  7
Blue Jay  1
Tree Swallow  30
Carolina Chickadee  2
House Wren  1
Carolina Wren  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Hermit Thrush  1
Grey Catbird  4
Northern Mockingbird  4
Common Yellowthroat  1
Palm Warbler  6
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  4
Seaside Sparrow  4
Chipping Sparrow  1
Savannah Sparrow  1
Song Sparrow  2
Swamp Sparrow  3
Northern Cardinal  5
Red-winged Blackbird  50
Eastern Meadowlark  1
Boat-tailed Grackle  6

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

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