16 December 2015

How do you know it's Christmas in Awendaw? And some ducks are back on Bulls despite the rather warm temperatures.

Wed 16 Dec 2015

   It's been a month since my last survey, and I was beginning to get irritable. I started to calm down on the morning drive when I noticed that the Christmas season has come to Awendaw. Most of the roadside mailboxes on Sewee Road were decorated for Christmas. Seems they had their annual Christmas parade this past weekend and decorated their mailboxes for the parade and the season.

   Wil Christenson joined me for today's survey. Thanks to the USF&WS maintenance folks (Greg, Alex, and Alan) for putting us in the water in one of the whalers. The dredging effort at Garris Landing continues; they've nearly competed the dredging at the basin and plan on leaving a channel paralleling the dock up to the ramp that will be 6 ft deep and 30 ft wide at low tide. Wil and I had the island to ourselves today, and I grew calmer every time I remembered that.

   The water level at Jack's Creek has dropped quicker than I suspected it might. The staff gauge is now left high and dry above the water, the new dike is once again prominent, and extensive mudflats now edge Jack's Creek. If they can keep the water falling this quickly they may soon start back the dike construction. Jack's had good numbers of both waterfowl and shorebirds today, often very close together; it was interesting to watch shorebirds wading beside floating ducks. Unfortunately sever heat waves and intractable distances prevented positive identification of most of those shorebirds.

   We tallied 46 species on the survey proper and 64 species on the island. We motored over and back fairly quickly today so I didn't keep a checklist for the boating, however we did see Common Loon, American Oystercatcher, and FOS (First of Season, at least for me) Horned Grebe that would expand our day's tally by a few more species. Waterfowl have begun to return to Bulls with good numbers of Gadwall and Bufflehead plus a few other species of interest including American Wigeon and Red-breasted Merganser. We scoped many Northern Gannets and Red-throated Loons out on a very calm sea. Shorebirds of note included good counts of Dunlin and Semipalmated Plovers along with two American Avocets and four Piping Plovers. Other species on interest included Bald Eagle, Peregrine Falcon, and Cooper's Hawk. Our full eBird checklist is appended below, FYI.

   Non-avian sightings included a loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) carcass that had washed up on the North Beach, bottlenose dolphin, fox squirrel, mosquitos, midges, sea cucumbers, ghost crabs, coyote tracks (many on the North Beach), monarch and gulf fritillary butterflies, and many sea shells. 

   Looking ahead at the tidal calendar (and personal calendar) suggests the following dates for our next survey:

Tues 29 Dec 2015 5.3 ft high tide forecast at 10:13 AM
Thurs 31 Dec 2015 4.7 ft high tide forecast at 11:39 AM

   Christmas means Christmas Bird Counts (CBCs). Go find yourself a CBC, or several, and participate in the nation's longest-running (since 1900) citizen science bird project. Check out the following links:

Go birding!


Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, South Carolina, US
Dec 16, 2015 9:15 AM - 4:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
12.2 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey with Wil Christenson. Effort: 9.2 mi and 1 hr 30 min by truck plus 3.0 mi and 5 hr 15 min by foot. Weather: fully sunny to fully cloudy, very little wind, warm; temps 54 °F to 70 °F; winds SE at < 2 mph; barometer steady at 30.00 in Hg. Tide was forecast 5.4 ft high at 10:58 AM.
64 species (+1 other taxa)

Gadwall  280     The most numerous waterfowl today. Total is from a series of estimates summed.
American Wigeon  8
Mottled Duck  11
Blue-winged Teal  10
Northern Shoveler  4
Green-winged Teal  7
Lesser Scaup  20
Black Scoter  7
scoter sp.  1
Bufflehead  171     Common and wide spread across many views. Total is summed from a series of estimates.
Red-breasted Merganser  1
Ruddy Duck  1
Red-throated Loon  30     Swimming and fly by offshore. Scope views. Estimate.
Pied-billed Grebe  3
Northern Gannet  75
Double-crested Cormorant  484
Anhinga  1
American White Pelican  14
Brown Pelican  40
Great Blue Heron  8
Great Egret  7
Little Blue Heron  2
Tricolored Heron  3
Green Heron  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  15
White Ibis  42
Turkey Vulture  5
Osprey  2
Northern Harrier  1
Cooper's Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  2
Red-shouldered Hawk  1
Sora  1
Common Gallinule  1
American Coot  48
American Avocet  2
Grey Plover  16
Semipalmated Plover  750     Estimate from a count of a large mixed shorebird flock.
Piping Plover  4
Greater Yellowlegs  17
Willet  3
Marbled Godwit  1
Ruddy Turnstone  29     Scattered and recurring on both the North Beach and the oceanfront marsh at Jack's Creek.
Sanderling  10
Dunlin  1254     Estimate from a count of a large mixed shorebird flock.
Western Sandpiper  11
Short-billed Dowitcher  245     A fairly accurate count.
Laughing Gull  4
Ring-billed Gull  62
Herring Gull  6
Great Black-backed Gull  3
Black Skimmer  40
Belted Kingfisher  5
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  1
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Phoebe  2
Blue Jay  1
Tree Swallow  2
Carolina Wren  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  4
Song Sparrow  1
Swamp Sparrow  3
Northern Cardinal  1
Red-winged Blackbird  32
Boat-tailed Grackle  3

This report was generated automatically by eBird v3 (http://ebird.org)