Sun 4 Sept 2016
Tropical Storm Hermine passed over S.C. last Thursday and Friday. Saturday dawned with clear skies, calm seas, and pleasant temperatures. In other words, it was a terrific day to check out the island for possible storm damage and possible storm birds. And I wasn't the only one wanting to get out to the island on a holiday weekend Saturday as the Coastal Expeditions (CEX) 9:00 AM ferry was filled nearly to capacity; as a matter of fact CEX hauled out so many people they needed to add an extra 5:00 PM departure just to get everyone off of the island. CEX's Captain Wil Christenson and First Mate Nick Johnson joined me for the morning's survey before their midday ferry service.
The passing tropical weather system dropped 4.30 in of rain on Bulls Island and littered the island with leaves, twigs with leaves, occasional small branches, and plenty of palmetto fronds. With only occasional blockages from fallen branches, all easily cleared, the roads and dikes survived fully intact. There was electrical power at the Dominick House, but I don't know if there had been any service disruptions. The North Beach, front beach at Beach Road, and Price's Inlet beaches all appeared essentially unaffected by the event. However Boneyard Beach appeared to suffer additional erosion into the forest, not severe but noticeable; the beach affronting Jack's Creek appeared to suffer wave washers that further flattened the few dunes that used to be there and largely filling in the two inlets draining the oceanfront saltwater marshes bordering the dike at Jack's Creek. Each of those two inlets was reduced to a trickle drainage. The large metal objects that have long littered the Boneyard Beach at the end of the road near New Pond were completely covered with sand and thus not visible.
The rainfall was sufficient to significantly expand the minuscule area of water that had been in Jack's Creek. Most of the expansive mudflats were covered with water, admittedly very shallow water but covered nonetheless. Shelling was better than usual but not spectacular; sizable cockle shells were, as typical, the primary shells that the storm washed up.
Oh, and about the birds…. We didn't see any specific storm birds (oceanic species that often fly within the calm storm eye thus being carried ashore before being dropped to the ground). The storm eye, very intact at landfall on the Florida panhandle, had long since vanished. Check out the story from the Washington Post at:
We did see other species of particular interest, at least to us. We three had been looking all year for Roseate Spoonbills; Nick was the first to spot a pink pair flying over Jack's. Also in Jack's we saw Blue-winged Teal, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Red-shouldered Hawk, and Cooper's Hawk. In the oceanfront marsh at Jack's we found Marbled Godwit, Whimbrel, Black-bellied Plover, Reddish Egret, Caspian Tern, Black Tern, Prairie Warbler, and Bald Eagle. The bird of the day I got at my usual lunch spot on the beach after dropping off Wil and Nick; while eating lunch I dropped my sandwich to grab my bins as a pair of Long-billed Curlews flew by over the breakers. Our eBird checklist is at:
I'm looking forward to Tuesday's survey.