26 May 2016

Shorebird migration peaked and passed

Th 26 May 2016

I was grateful to have both Wil Christenson and Nick Johnson, Captain and First Mate of the Coastal Expeditions (CEX) ferry, respectively, help me with today's waterfowl/shorebird survey on Bulls, even though they had to return to the dock for the noon ferry departure. CEX has been a steadfast and joyous supporter of this ongoing survey and I am grateful for their support.

Jack's Creek is almost completely dry excepting the ditches adjacent to the dikes and the remnant of the original creek, and that's about to dry up too. I'm hoping to find time to really hike out and through Jack's to fully explore areas usually completely inaccessible. That effort will require an entire day separate from the survey I suspect. In the little water remaining near the Old Fort, the American alligators massed there put on a vigorous feeding show when a few wading egrets flushed many sizable fish through a very narrow channel. Pretty cool to watch the fish flapping about, swimming through, and literally bouncing off the backs of snapping gators.

Shorebird migration has definitely peaked and passed on Bulls. Back on 10 May we tallied 3648 individuals of 20 shorebird species; today we tallied 277 individuals of 16 shorebird species. It was humbling to have to study up on Sanderlings in the field guide to make sure that I was accurately identifying them; they have a spectacularly warm and colorful plumage for a species with basic plumage so reminiscent of dry sand on a cold winter beach. A few Red Knots and good numbers of Least Sandpipers were the other shorebird species of note. Waterfowl were restricted to summer residents Wood Duck, Mottled Duck (one proud parent being followed very closely by one duckling), and Black-bellied Whistling Duck. Our full eBird checklist is appended, below, FYI.

Misses included Purple Gallinule (seen and photographed by others this past Saturday off of Beach Road in Lower Summerhouse Pond), Reddish Egret (I really thought they'd be here in modest number by now), Wood Stork, Whimbrel (recently seen in high numbers), Sandwich Tern, and Black Tern.

Non-avian sightings of note included several fox squirrels, a presumptive loggerhead turtle crawl (tracks) on the North Beach that likely lead to a new nest, and Atlantic bottlenose dolphin spy hopping (momentarily holding their heads well above the water surface and looking directly at us) right beyond the ferry's gunnels.

Tangential to the survey, I was prompted by a nature-writing workshop to produce a little haiku. See if you can identify the species described in the following haiku. (Answer below.)

black and white attire
raucous calling on the wing
pink legs up to thar

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

Tues 7 June 2016 5.1 ft high tide forecast at 10:23 AM
Wed 8 June 2016 4.9 ft high tide forecast at 11:16 AM
Thurs 9 June 2016 4.8 ft high tide forecast at 12:10 PM

I'll try to plan this next one a little earlier.


Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, South Carolina, US
May 26, 2016 9:37 AM - 3:41 PM
Protocol: Traveling
22.999 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island waterfowl/shorebird survey with Wil Christenson and Nick Johnson (at least until they had to return to run the noon ferry). Effort: 17.7 mi and 2 hr by vehicle plus 5.25 mi and 3 hr 30 min by foot. Weather: sunny and warm; temps 81 F to 83 F; SE winds at 5 mph with gusts to 12 mph; barometer steady at 30.23 in Hg. Tide was forecast 4.5 ft high at 11:23 AM.  <br />Submitted from eBird for iOS, version 1.2.1 Build 65
55 species (+1 other taxa)

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  8
Wood Duck  5
Mottled Duck  6
Double-crested Cormorant  3
Anhinga  15
Brown Pelican  49
Least Bittern  5
Great Blue Heron  5
Great Egret  15
Snowy Egret  15
Tricolored Heron  8
Green Heron  10
Black-crowned Night-Heron  1
White Ibis  46
Glossy Ibis  3
Black Vulture  1
Turkey Vulture  6
Osprey  4     All 4 tending one of two nests.
Bald Eagle  1     1 mature
Common Gallinule  12
Black-necked Stilt  20
American Oystercatcher  1
Grey Plover  1
Wilson's Plover  5
Semipalmated Plover  20
Killdeer  1
Spotted Sandpiper  3
Willet  4
Ruddy Turnstone  15     A fairly accurate count.
Red Knot  3
Sanderling  18
Dunlin  3
Least Sandpiper  65
Semipalmated Sandpiper  97
peep sp.  10     Seen in a quick drive by Moccasin Pond; didn't stop to scope.
Short-billed Dowitcher  11
Laughing Gull  38
Ring-billed Gull  2
Least Tern  6
Gull-billed Tern  20     A fairly accurate count.
Forster's Tern  3
Royal Tern  31
Black Skimmer  8
Mourning Dove  2
Common Nighthawk  2
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Great Crested Flycatcher  1
Blue Jay  1
Barn Swallow  7
Marsh Wren  2
Northern Mockingbird  1
Pine Warbler  1
Northern Cardinal  10
Painted Bunting  6
Red-winged Blackbird  50
Boat-tailed Grackle  21

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

The haiku was describing Black-necked Stilts. Was I successful? Should I try more haiku? (I kinda like haiku, don't you?)

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