05 August 2016

Early fall migrant shorebirds continue moving through Bulls

Fri 5 Aug 2016

   Even in the summer heat and humidity there are still good birds to be found on Bulls Island. I made it out today for the ongoing waterfowl/shorebird survey. Once Coastal Expeditions' Captain Wil Christenson and First Mate Nick Johnson got me out to the island they both joined me for the morning's birding. We were able to cover Jack's Creek from the Old Fort and the North Beach before I got them back to the dock for the midday ferry service. After that I completed the day's birding solo.

   We tallied 43 species on the survey proper, 61 species on the island, and 66 species on the day--better numbers than I had guessed on the departing ferry. Our eBird checklist from the island is appended, below, FYI. At the end of the day Wil asked me what the bird of the day was and I couldn't really recall a standout species until later when I finally remembered the Common Ground Dove that Wil spied flying over the dune line on the North Beach. Other species of interest included a Piping Plover (no bands), Whimbrel, Red Knot, many Sanderlings, Great Black-backed Gull, Forster's Tern, and Black Tern. Misses included Roseate Spoonbill (seen recently by others), Reddish Egret, Wood Duck, Least Bittern, Clapper Rain, Marbled Godwit, Western Sandpiper (seen on both July 2016 surveys) Gull-billed Tern (a common summer resident seen through late September 2015), and Black Scoter (seen often over recent summers but not seen at all this summer).

   Non-avian sightings included Atlantic bottle-nose dolphin (I had lunch while watching one of them), a white-tailed deer (very infrequently seen on the island but there), a few various butterflies, and hordes of mosquitos and deer flies (quite active in the calm winds today). 

   Wil and I are both ready for the fall birding to begin in ernest. Less heat, fewer bugs, and the fall birds are on the horizon. The Spartina alterniflora (saltmarsh cordgrass) remains in full-on summer green glory everywhere in the saltmarsh, they've mown the grasses in Pool 1 (amazing to my eye just how shallow Pool 1 is), the water level in Jack's crept up with a 3+ inch rainfall recorded Tuesday this week on the island, and early fall shorebirds are continuing. 

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

Sat 20 Aug 2016 5.7 ft high tide forecast at 9:43 AM
Mon 22 Aug 2016 5,8 ft high tide forecast at 11:26 AM
Tues 23 Aug 2016 5.8 ft high tide forecast at 12:23 PM


Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, South Carolina, US
Aug 5, 2016 9:38 AM - 2:59 PM
Protocol: Traveling
13.2 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing waterfowl/shorebird survey with Wil Christenson and Nick Johnson (for the morning). Effort: 10.0 mi and 1 hr 30 min by vehicle plus 3.2 mi and 3 hr 15 min by foot. Weather: variably sunny to cloudy, warm, and humid; temps 86 F to 88 F; winds light and variable; barometer steady at 30.00 in Hg. Tide was forecast 5.1 ft high at 10:22 AM.  <br />Submitted from eBird for iOS, version 1.2.5 Build 73
59 species (+2 other taxa)

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck  2
Mottled Duck  11
Pied-billed Grebe  1
Wood Stork  1
Double-crested Cormorant  12     A fairly accurate count.
Anhinga  8
Brown Pelican  22
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  31
Snowy Egret  29
Tricolored Heron  14
Green Heron  3
Black-crowned Night-Heron  13
Yellow-crowned Night-Heron  1
White Ibis  28
Glossy Ibis  2
Black Vulture  1
Turkey Vulture  6
Osprey  4
Mississippi Kite  3
Common Gallinule  19
Black-necked Stilt  32     A fairly accurate count.
American Oystercatcher  5
Grey Plover  19
Wilson's Plover  11
Semipalmated Plover  16
Piping Plover  1     No leg flags or bands.
Spotted Sandpiper  3
Greater Yellowlegs  3
Willet  24
Lesser Yellowlegs  2
Whimbrel  4
Ruddy Turnstone  13     A fairly accurate count.
Red Knot  8     An accurate count. Scope view of birds resting on the beach with terns and Sanderlings. No apparent leg bands or flags.
Sanderling  147     A fairly accurate count.
Least Sandpiper  45
Semipalmated Sandpiper  70
peep sp.  120     Unable to ID to sandpiper species.
Laughing Gull  66
Ring-billed Gull  1
Herring Gull  2
Great Black-backed Gull  3     2 mature plus 1 immature.
Least Tern  10
Black Tern  5
Forster's Tern  8     An accurate count.
Royal Tern  64
Sandwich Tern  17
Black Skimmer  149     An approximate count.
Common Ground-Dove  1     Flyover dune line at North Beach.
Mourning Dove  4
Common Nighthawk  3
Belted Kingfisher  1
swallow sp.  8
Carolina Chickadee  2
Marsh Wren  3
Carolina Wren  5
Northern Mockingbird  2
Northern Cardinal  6
Painted Bunting  1
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Boat-tailed Grackle  6

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

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