15 January 2016

Bottlenose dolphin, fox squirrels (7!), bobcat, and, oh yeah, hundreds of ducks and thousands of shorebirds.

Fri 15 Jan 2016

   Yesterday Wil Christenson, Ford Mauney, and John Ptolomy joined me for the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey. The day started cold and clear and ended the same way. The dredging at Garris Landing has been completed; the only thing left for the dredge company to do is dismantle the 5 miles of pipe, pack up, and go, something that may take them a while to complete. But there's now a channel 6 ft deep and 30 ft wide and 6 ft of water in the basin---all at low tide. A great and positive improvement!

   Bulls is packed with many hundreds of ducks and several thousand shorebirds, especially in Jack's Creek where the water level is low enough to barely float a duck yet allow small shorebirds to wade easily. We tallied 49 species on the survey proper, 24 species from the boat ride, 72 species on the island, and 75 species on the day's outing. Our eBird checklist from the island is appended, below, FYI.

   Even given the clear, cold weather it was somewhat disappointing to have heat waves interfering with shorebird species identification of those birds well out in the middle of Jack's Creek. But that was mostly OK because we had more than enough to identify and count from the margins including 17 duck species and 12 shorebird species on the day. Notable  ducks, either for species or count, were: American Wigeon, Northern Pintail, Ring-neck Duck, and Lesser Scaup. Similarly notable among shorebirds were Piping Plover and Western Sandpiper.

   In particular, we found a flagged Piping Plover (PIPL) that we had seen on our last survey New Year's Eve. It wears a black flag above its R ankle with "KK" in white letters. With the help of Melissa Bimbi (USF&WS Piping Plover biologist) we found that this particular bird was banded in Quebec, Canada. Here is an excerpt from an email I received from the bander, Dr. Cheri Gratto-Trevor (used with permission):

   "David- this is one of our eastern Canada birds – band 93917, banded as an adult female on 10 June 2014, at Fatima Beach, Magdalen Islands, Quebec.  She was back in the area last summer.  Last winter she also was on Bull Is – terrific to know she is still alive and wintering in the same area.

"Thanks for sending it in!!


"Dr. C. L. Gratto-Trevor
Research Scientist Shorebirds, Wildlife Research Division
Science and Technology Branch
Environment and Climate Change Canada / Government of Canada"

   Non-avian observations included bottlenose dolphins impact feeding, fox squirrels (seven of 'em!), Monarch butterflies, and a bobcat (stalked and photographed by Wil, scoped by everyone else) at Upper Summerhouse Pond. I never knew that their "bob" tail was so compressed, i.e., flattened, vertically. Thanks, Wil, for allowing me to post your terrific photo. I wonder if the bobcat and coyote will "play nice" together on the island or if they will have issues with each other.

My father-in-law would have said "Pretty kitty!"

   Our next survey is scheduled for Fri 29 Jan 2015. Until then go work on improving international relations…go birding.


Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, South Carolina, US
Jan 14, 2016 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM
Protocol: Traveling
14.1 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey with Wil Christenson, Ford Mauney, and John Ptolomy. Effort: 11.8 mi and 2 hr by vehicle plus 2.3 mi and 5 hr by foot. Weather: sunny and cool, approx. 10 % cloud cover; temps 38 *F to 64 *F; AM winds W at < 5 kt, PM winds S at < 5 kt; barometer at 1015 kPa and falling slightly.
72 species (+1 other taxa)

Wood Duck  2
Gadwall  527     A conservative estimate.
American Wigeon  270
American Black Duck  5
Mallard  3
Mottled Duck  31
Blue-winged Teal  38
Northern Shoveler  89
Northern Pintail  5
Green-winged Teal  100
Redhead  2
Ring-necked Duck  5
Lesser Scaup  8
Black Scoter  1
Bufflehead  346     A conservative estimate.
Hooded Merganser  35
Ruddy Duck  7
duck sp.  50
Red-throated Loon  1
Pied-billed Grebe  10
Double-crested Cormorant  75
American White Pelican  10
Brown Pelican  6
Great Blue Heron  24
Great Egret  19
Snowy Egret  20
Little Blue Heron  11
Tricolored Heron  7
Black-crowned Night-Heron  2
White Ibis  56
Black Vulture  3
Turkey Vulture  2
Osprey  3
Northern Harrier  1
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  2
Sora  1
Common Gallinule  54     A conservative estimate.
American Coot  137
Grey Plover  18
Semipalmated Plover  84
Piping Plover  3     N.B. 1 Flagged in Marsh: upper L metal, upper R black flag "KK" in white, both lower L and lower R blank. This PIPL was seen before on 31 Dec 2015 and was banded in Quebec. See email from Cheri Gratto-Trevor 12 Jan 2016. "David- this is one of our eastern Canada birds – band 93917, banded as an adult female on 10 June 2014, at Fatima Beach, Magdalen Islands, Quebec."
Killdeer  1
Greater Yellowlegs  28
Willet  15
Marbled Godwit  2
Ruddy Turnstone  1
Sanderling  34     An accurate count.
Dunlin  390     A  very conservative estimate.
Western Sandpiper  1100     A conservative estimate.
Short-billed Dowitcher  205     A conservative estimate.
Laughing Gull  1
Ring-billed Gull  4
Forster's Tern  1
Mourning Dove  4
Belted Kingfisher  2
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  3
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  3
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Phoebe  3
Tree Swallow  100
Carolina Chickadee  2
Marsh Wren  1
Grey Catbird  1
Northern Mockingbird  2
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  6
Prairie Warbler  1
Song Sparrow  1
Northern Cardinal  4
Red-winged Blackbird  3
Common Grackle  16
Boat-tailed Grackle  3
Brown-headed Cowbird  4

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

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