19 November 2016

Ducks arriving, quite North Beach, and Old Man Plover in some distress

Fri 18 Nov 2016

Kent Bedenbaugh drove down from Columbia to help with today's waterfowl/shorebird survey on Bulls Island. I was grateful that he made such a long drive to share his birding experiences. Coastal Expeditions' Captain Wil Christenson and First Mate Nick Johnson gave us their usual sterling ferry ride out to Bulls and back, and our fellow ferry passengers were all very gracious in allowing us to slowly motor by the private docks just north of Garris Landing to spot the shorebirds, gulls, and terns hanging out there. Thanks to all of the above folks for helping to make today into a great day's birding outing.

Kind of a mixed bag today: we tallied 38 species on the survey proper, 62 species on the island, and 66 species on the day. Our eBird checklist from Bulls is appended below, FYI. The best shorebirds of the day were 3 Piping Plovers; one was BO:X,g (a.k.a., Old Man Plover), one was "KK" (a black flag with white lettering), and one was unbanded. We've seen both BO:X,g and KK several times over successive winters. Read more about BO:X,g in my previous blog from 3 Nov 2016. 

Unfortunately Old Man Plover appeared to be in some distress today from a piece of vegetation stuck in one or more of his leg bands. I have contacted the bander and reported his condition; they are forwarding the information to colleagues who may be able to help. See a fuzzy digiscope iPhone photo below showing BO:X,g struggling with this particular encumbrance.

Waterfowl have begun to return to Bulls including Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, Lesser Scaup, Hooded Merganser, and an unexpected Long-tailed Duck. We also had Red-breasted Merganser from the ferry. Also somewhat unexpected were Bonaparte's Gulls in Jack's Creek and a particularly high count of Pied-billed Grebes. 

I had high expectations for the gathering of shorebirds, gulls, and terns on the North Beach given the fairly high tide today, but we saw only a very few Sanderlings and the three Piping Plovers on the North Beach proper. We used to see huge mixed flocks on that point, but there have consistently been fewer birds there over recent couple of years. The Bird Key Bulls Bay (the sandbar off the North Beach back in Bulls Bay) did have numerous birds to count including an American White Pelican.

Non-avian wildlife sightings today included Atlantic bottle-nose dolphin "chasing" shrimp boats swimming directly above their lowered nets, fox squirrel, American alligators sunning, and fairly fresh dog tracks on the north beach (honest dog, not coyote, fox, or wolf, at least best I could tell). 

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

Sat 3 Dec 2016 5.3 ft high tide at 9:48 AM
Sun 4 Dec 2016 5.3 ft high tide at 10:27 AM
Mon 5 Dec 2016 5.2 ft high tide at 11:13 AM


Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, South Carolina, US
Nov 18, 2016 9:50 AM - 3:46 PM
Protocol: Traveling
13.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing waterfowl/shorebird survey with Kent Bedenbaugh. Effort:  11.2 mi and 1 hr 30 min by vehicle plus 2.75 mi and 3 hr 55 min by foot. Weather: sunny and warm; temps 51 F to 71 F; winds very light, mostly a land breeze. Tide was forecast 6.2 ft high at 10:29 AM.
60 species (+2 other taxa)

Mottled Duck  2
Blue-winged Teal  5
Lesser Scaup  30
Long-tailed Duck  1     Scope view. Diving duck, mostly white/light head plumage but dark plumage patch below ear.
Bufflehead  35     Estimate.
Hooded Merganser  2
Ruddy Duck  10
Pied-billed Grebe  70     A fairly accurate count.
Double-crested Cormorant  204
American White Pelican  1
Brown Pelican  28
Great Blue Heron  3
Great Egret  13
Snowy Egret  44
Little Blue Heron  10
Tricolored Heron  10
Reddish Egret  1
Black-crowned Night-Heron  4
White Ibis  16
Black Vulture  3
Turkey Vulture  3
Osprey  2
Northern Harrier  1     1 female
hawk sp.  3
Clapper Rail  2
Common Gallinule  11
American Coot  25
Grey Plover  5
Semipalmated Plover  70
Piping Plover  3     One was banded BO:X,g and also known as "Old Man Plover." One had a black flag with white lettering "KK." Third was unbanded.
Ruddy Turnstone  9
Sanderling  32
Dunlin  855     A fairly accurate count.
Least Sandpiper  11
Western Sandpiper  81
Short-billed Dowitcher  77
Spotted Sandpiper  1
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Willet  22
Bonaparte's Gull  9
Laughing Gull  3
Ring-billed Gull  7
Forster's Tern  35
Royal Tern  5
Mourning Dove  1
Belted Kingfisher  4
Red-bellied Woodpecker  1
Eastern Phoebe  5
Tree Swallow  100
Carolina Chickadee  2
Hermit Thrush  1
American Robin  30
Grey Catbird  1
Northern Mockingbird  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  6
Nelson's/Saltmarsh Sparrow (Sharp-tailed Sparrow)  1
Seaside Sparrow  5
Savannah Sparrow  1
Swamp Sparrow  1
Northern Cardinal  2
Red-winged Blackbird  10
Boat-tailed Grackle  55

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

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