21 December 2016

A good survey for ducks

It was a great day for ducks on Bulls this past Saturday for the ongoing waterfowl/shorebird survey. Chris Snook joined me for the survey and the ferry ride out on the Coastal Expeditions' Caretta ferry. CEX's Captain Wil Christenson and First Mate Nick Johnson really wanted to join the survey effort with us, but their ferry schedule precluded their survey efforts. 

We tallied 42 species on the survey proper and 59 species on the island for the day. Our eBird checklist is appended below, FYI. First thing we did at Jack's Creek was watch five Common Goldeneye ducks fly into view then bank and splash down right in front of us. Mark up another new species for the survey! (Maybe this species was recorded before I began my efforts, but it's new for me on the island.) Other duck species were well represented as well including Gadwall, American Widgeon, Northern Shoveler, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Ruddy Duck, and others. Winter resident shorebirds were well represented by the usual high numbers of Dunlin and Western Sandpiper plus a couple of Piping Plovers (neither banded or flagged). 

Jack's Creek remains mostly full of water and the dike construction appears to have temporarily halted, though the dike is tantalizing close to completion. The North Beach continues to have very few birds at all, perhaps because we have been hitting it a little too late after high tide. Meanwhile the oceanfront saltwater marsh at Jack's Creek continues to host high numbers of shorebirds. 

We also saw a few American alligators, Atlantic bottle-nose dolphin, canine tracks (hopefully a wayward dog rather than a large-footed coyote), and a few mosquitoes. 

Looking ahead at the tidal calendar and at the Christmas Bird Count (CBC) calendar, I think that I'll let the Monday 2 Jan 2017 CBC, with a 5.2 ft high tide at 10:07 AM, do double duty as the waterfowl/shorebird survey. Looking beyond that suggests the following dates to consider for our next survey:

Mon 16 Jan 2017 5.3 ft high tide forecast at 10:28 AM
Tues 17 Jan 2017 5.0 ft high tide forecast at 11:12 AM

Stay tuned for final plans.


Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, South Carolina, US
Dec 17, 2016 10:59 AM - 2:33 PM
Protocol: Traveling
9.4 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing Bulls Island water/shorebird survey with Chris Snook. Effort: 7.9 mi and 0 hr 51 min by truck plus 1.5 mi and 3 hr 34 min by foot. Weather: sunny and cool; temps 42 F to 69 F; AM winds N at <= 5 mph shifting midday to S at <= 5 mph; barometer 1023 hPa dropping to 1019 hPa. Tide was forecast 5.9 ft high at 10:06 AM.
59 species

Wood Duck  3
Gadwall  87
American Wigeon  40
Mottled Duck  7
Blue-winged Teal  8
Northern Shoveler  32
Redhead  8
Ring-necked Duck  4
Lesser Scaup  20
Black Scoter  107
Bufflehead  114     A fairly accurate count.
Common Goldeneye  5     Flew and landed directly in front of us. Distinct yellow-golden eye. Male had clear white plumage circular patch between eye and bill and striking black and white body plumage.
Hooded Merganser  22
Red-breasted Merganser  1
Ruddy Duck  109     A fairly accurate count.
Pied-billed Grebe  47
Double-crested Cormorant  37
American White Pelican  26
Brown Pelican  9
Great Blue Heron  1
Great Egret  5
Snowy Egret  8
Little Blue Heron  2
Tricolored Heron  3
White Ibis  2
Turkey Vulture  5
Osprey  2
Sharp-shinned Hawk  1
Bald Eagle  1
Red-shouldered Hawk  2
Common Gallinule  18
American Coot  115
Grey Plover  8
Semipalmated Plover  59
Piping Plover  2     None was banded or flagged.
Ruddy Turnstone  4
Sanderling  20
Dunlin  790     A fairly accurate estimate.
Least Sandpiper  1
Western Sandpiper  200     A fairly accurate estimate.
Short-billed Dowitcher  9
Greater Yellowlegs  2
Willet  12
Ring-billed Gull  30
Herring Gull  3
Great Black-backed Gull  6
Forster's Tern  2
Mourning Dove  1
Belted Kingfisher  3
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  2
Peregrine Falcon  1
Eastern Phoebe  3
Blue-headed Vireo  1
Carolina Wren  1
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Myrtle)  20
Savannah Sparrow  3
Song Sparrow  1
Boat-tailed Grackle  25

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

05 December 2016

Ducks arriving and Old Man Plover free of impediments

Mon 5 Dec 2016

After ferrying me out to Bulls Island Captain Wil Christenson and First Mate Nick Johnson joined me for Saturday's waterfowl/shorebird survey. We found some returning ducks and most of the usual winter-resident shorebirds.

We tallied 37 species on the survey proper. Interesting avian sightings included many Pied-billed Grebes, an American Bittern, a Reddish Egret, many Bufflehead, a pair of American Black Ducks, Ruddy Ducks, Great Black-backed Gulls, a Bonaparte's Gull, American White Pelicans, and Red-throated Loon and Bald Eagle (seen from the ferry). Interestingly there was only one Sanderling and no teals of either persuasion.

Of particular interest were six Piping Plovers, two of which were banded/flagged. Fortunately we found BO:X,g, aka Old Man Plover, and were able to follow up on our last sighting when he had an offending piece of vegetation stuck under some of his leg bands. See the 18 Nov 2016 blog for details and photo of the offending stick. By this Saturday BO:X,g had apparently shed the offending stick. He was, however, still favoring that L leg. He appeared to hold it off the ground some but I could still see his foot rather than having his foot fully withdrawn under his ventral feathers. He did seem to use the "sore" leg in walking but seemed to hold up that leg when standing still.

I emailed the bander, Alice Van Zoeren, with this update on BO:X,g and received this in partial reply: "Standing on one leg is a pretty typical behavior even without any injury. He does that all the time (see attached summer photo) as do all the other plovers. Sometimes one will hop on one leg for hours while feeding, preening, sleeping...and then switch legs. It will be good to keep an eye on his movement when you see him over the winter, but I'll bet the leg is fine if he's using it while walking." 

 BO:X,g, aka Old Man Plover, 15 Apr 2016 having just arrived back on his breeding grounds at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore, MI. Photo by Alice Van Zoeren.

The other banded/flagged PIPL is also one of Alice's birds. "The other plover you saw is also from the Great Lakes. This one hatched in 2015 at Muskegon, MI. He returned to breed in 2016 in Illinois near the Wisconsin border at Illinois Beach State Park. It was an exciting expansion of nesting plovers back into historic nesting territory."

Non-avian sightings on interest on the survey included canine tracks, hordes of mosquitoes hiding in the lee of the bushes, American alligators, and Atlantic bottle nose dolphin.

Looking ahead at the tidal calendar, and Christmas Bird Count calendars, suggests the following date to consider for our next survey:

Sat 17 Dec 2016 high tide forecast 5.9 ft at 10:06 AM


Cape Romain NWR--Bulls Island, Charleston, South Carolina, US
Dec 3, 2016 10:30 AM - 2:30 PM
Protocol: Traveling
6.0 mile(s)
Comments:     Conducting the ongoing waterfowl/shorebird survey with David McLean and Nick Johnson. Effort: 10.2 mi and 1 hr 30 min by vehicle plus 2.8 mi and 2 hr 30 Min  by foot. Weather: variably sunny to cloudy, warm. temps 41 F to 60 F; winds NE 5-15 kts; barometer steady at 30.29 in Hg. Tide was forecast 5.2 ft high at 10:15 AM.
52 species (+2 other taxa)

Gadwall  21
American Black Duck  2     Cold steel gray cheeck. Fairly vertical splash when taking to wing.
Mottled Duck  21
Northern Shoveler  9
Bufflehead  155     Several large floats in Jack's creek
Hooded Merganser  27
Ruddy Duck  19
duck sp.  4
Pied-billed Grebe  44
Double-crested Cormorant  34
American White Pelican  15
Brown Pelican  2
American Bittern  1
Great Blue Heron  4
Great Egret  11
Snowy Egret  43
Little Blue Heron  13
Tricolored Heron  7
Reddish Egret  1
White Ibis  12
Turkey Vulture  8
Osprey  2
Northern Harrier  2
Cooper's Hawk  1
Accipiter sp.  1
Bald Eagle  1
Clapper Rail  1
Common Gallinule  53     Many large groups
American Coot  132
Grey Plover  6
Semipalmated Plover  118
Piping Plover  6     Two were banded: 1) BO:X,g aka Old Man Plover, and 2) Orange flag, Yellow over light blue:X, Green. In an email from the bander, Alice Van Zoeren, "The other [second] plover you saw is also from the Great Lakes. This one hatched in 2015 at Muskegon, MI. He returned to breed in 2016 in Illinois near the Wisconsin border at Illinois Beach State Park. It was an exciting expansion of nesting plovers back into historic nesting territory."
Sanderling  1
Dunlin  825     Large group in the ocean front marsh
Western Sandpiper  102     Large group in the ocean front marsh
Short-billed Dowitcher  25
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Willet  9
Bonaparte's Gull  1
Laughing Gull  3
Ring-billed Gull  3
Herring Gull  5
Great Black-backed Gull  2
Forster's Tern  1
Belted Kingfisher  4
Northern Flicker (Yellow-shafted)  5
Eastern Phoebe  2
Tree Swallow  7
Marsh Wren  1
Northern Mockingbird  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler  3
Swamp Sparrow  1
Red-winged Blackbird  8
Boat-tailed Grackle  24

View this checklist online at http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist/S32893479

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