Join SIB for Birds and Brew: Learning Together at the Maintenance Area

Hooded Mergansers – photo taken by Glen Cox

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Date: Sunday December 15, ,2019
Birding: 2:00 pm – 4:00 pm
Brew: 4:00 pm – 6:00 pm
Title: Birds and Brew: Learning Together at the Maintenance Area
Location: Birding: Meet at SIPOA Garden Plots parking lot
Brew: Salty Dog
Max: 30
Cost: Free members; $5 donation for guests (No guest fee required for Brew portion. Each person will pay for their own drink).

Description: We will bird as usual, then those who are interested will meet at Salty Dog for socializing and beverages of your choice. By now the wintering birds have found their way back to Seabrook Island. We will tour around the ponds at the Water Treatment area, the gardens and possibly the horse pastures in search of wintering waterfowl, birds of prey and passerines.

Dress in layers, wear study shoes and bring sun block, bug spray, a hat, water and binoculars.

Spouses / significant others / friends who are not interested in birds are welcome to join us for Brews

For Birding, if you are not yet a SIB member, you must first become a member by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/. Alternatively, you may pay a $5 guest fee.

Once you are a member, please complete the information below to register no later than Friday, December 13, 2019. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Saturday, December 14, 2019.

Birders at Maintenance Area – Charley Moore

Join SIB for a Movie Matinee: Counting on Birds & Bird Tales

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SIB will finish its movie matinees this fall on Monday, December 16, with two hour-long documentary style films from PBS featuring Willem Lange.

The first, “Counting on Birds.” How did a Christmas-time tradition of shooting birds change to one of counting them? Willem Lange travels to Keene & Errol, NH, Ecuador and Cuba to meet people dedicated to the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count.

To watch the trailer, hit the play button below:

The second, “Bird Tales.” Why are people so devoted to birds? Join Willem Lange as he meets migratory bird enthusiasts with fascinating BIRD TALES talking about their experiences with migratory birds from New England to New Jersey to Washington, DC to central Illinois to Nicaragua.

To watch the trailer, hit the play button below:

SIB will provide the popcorn and snacks! You can bring pillows to make the chairs more comfy and BYOB. Please sign up to join us for an afternoon at the movies!

Monday December 16, 2019 4:30 pm – 6:15 pm
Location: Oystercatcher Community Center
Max: 30
Cost: None for members; $5 donation for guests

Sign Up Today by clicking here.

A Rare Duck & Special Piping Plover – SI in December!

We had a fun week of December birding all around Seabrook! On Jenkins Point we were greeted by 2 Roseate Spoonbills, the number has since grown to 5. Nice to see a flash of pink in the winter landscape. Black-crowned Night Heron numbers are growing, at least 15 squawking their way between the 2 ponds on Jenkins Point Rd. Hooded Mergansers floated on the first pond, working in tandem with a Tricolored Heron and a Snowy Egret to stir up a meal on the far shore!

At the water treatment area, we found a rare (on EBird) Long-tailed Duck. The first night I saw two, but only one seems to remain. This is a rarity for the Charleston area, so very exciting to see! I have had one previous sighting on Seabrook for the CBC, out on the old inlet. Bufflehead numbers were increasing with about 35 one evening!

On North Beach, Marbled Godwits were seen every day, working the large tide pool near the bend, along with Black-bellied Plovers and Ruddy Turnstones. Semipalmated Plover and Dunlin numbers were in the hundreds. A nice surprise was 12 Red Knots, one with a band!

Ed and I did our usual beach prowls for wintering Piping Plovers. On a very foggy day we spotted 4 plovers. But Ed’s usually great photos were a foggy mess. One PIPL had an orange band, with maybe a gray band too? We sent photos to our friend, Alice Van Zoeren, Great Lakes PIPL Conservation Team in MI. Alice replied, “could the band be purple, is there a number?” And if yes, it could be “very exciting!” Purple? Exciting? We’ve never seen a PIPL with a purple band in all our years of looking! We were back out the next day, a beautiful morning, and spotted 8 PIPL. Then there it was in the middle of the beach – our banded “purple” with the number 31!

Here is Alice’s info on this PIPL: “You’ve proved it! This is the chick, we named “Little V”, from our Point Betsie MI nest. It’s the only one that fledged from this new 2019 nesting area. It’s a very busy and narrow beach just south of the Point Betsie Lighthouse. You can see us banding it on this Chicago Tribune video! https://www.chicagotribune.com/ed257930-fef2-4c7f-8e72-3450…

“Some of this video is of us catching and banding another brood, but this chick is the one in my hand, and running off while Steph chants “survive, survive”. Guess it worked.”

Be sure to watch the above video link from Alice – highlight the link and copy to your browser, turn on the audio when video loads. What a special story about our endangered little winter guests, and the challenges they face! What a special visitor to Seabrook Island!

Other banded Piping Plovers we’ve seen are returning winter guests at Seabrook. Black Flag 2K from Prince Edward Island, Canada, has been spotted now Sep and Dec 2019, and Nov 2018. SCDNR also spotted 2K on Devaux Bank in October. And last month we resighted this Great Lakes banded PIPL for the fourth time – Oct, Sep and Mar 2019, and Nov 2018.

These sightings and stories highlight the struggle these tiny Piping Plovers face to survive. Remember, PIPL that breed in Atlantic US and Canada regions are Federally Threatened, Great Lakes region are Federally Endangered with only 71 breeding pairs remaining. They’re with us for nine months a year, as wintering guests, or stopping by as they head to/return from beaches farther south. Our critical habitat is thriving, and we’ve been regularly seeing four to eight PIPL on any given day. Usually around the large tidal pool in the critical habitat – along the shore or resting on the beach. But they can be anywhere along the shore, so please give them space to feed and rest!

Article by Aija and Ed Konrad, Photos by Ed Konrad

Volunteer to Assist with the 120th Christmas Bird Count on Seabrook Island

(Article written for the December issue of The Seabrooker)

Each year starting on December 14th and continuing through January 5th, people across the country are participating in the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  Each count takes place on a specific day in an established 15-mile wide diameter circle, and is organized by a count compiler. Seabrook Island is part of the Sea Island SC count organized by Aaron Given, Wildlife Biologist at Kiawah Island. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) will again support this year’s 120th annual CBC on the designated day of Friday January 3, 2020.  

Count volunteers follow specified routes through their designated 15-mile diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It’s not just a species tally—all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. The data collected by observers over the past century allow Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.

The first CBC was held on Christmas Day 1900 and was organized by ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the Audubon Society.  His proposal was to create a new holiday tradition of a “Christmas Bird Census” that would count birds during the holidays rather than the traditional Christmas “Side Hunt,” where teams of hunters competed to bring home the biggest pile of feathered or furred animals.

This past year, on January 4, 2019, 30 SIB members contributed to the 2018-2019 Sea Island Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  In total we had ten homes who submitted Backyard Birding forms and we had another ten groups who submitted the forms for all across Seabrook Island, including Camp St. Christopher, the beach, golf courses, horse pastures, ponds and marshes.

Our teams identified 99 species on our island.  This was less than the previous two years (112 & 116 respectively), most likely due to the extremely foggy and rainy weather. On that day, no one on Seabrook Island even saw a Wood Stork, Turkey or Black Vulture! However, it was impressive that of 20 locations, at least 14 of these reported a unique species!  Other interesting facts are we had 3 locations with a Baltimore Oriole and 6 locations with a Ruby-throated Hummingbird – all of which were seen in backyards, demonstrating the importance of our members participating from their home locations!

Please enjoy the photos taken by several SIB members during the day, including birds at backyard feeders, birds through the fog at North Beach and some candids of our birders doing what they love!  If you are interested to participate in the 120th Christmas Bird Count on Seabrook Island on Friday January 3, 2020, please visit our website (SeabrookIslandBirders.org/bird-walks/) or send an email (SeabrookIslandBirders@gmail.com). You can volunteer to stay at your home and report the birds that visit your feeder or even join experienced birders who will travel the island throughout the day.

Finally, if you are interested to learn more about the annual Christmas Bird Count, join SIB for our final 2019 movie matinee on Monday, December 16, at 4:30 pm.  We will show two hour-long documentary style films from PBS featuring Willem Lange. The first, “Counting on Birds.” How did a Christmas-time tradition of shooting birds change to one of counting them? Willem Lange travels to Keene & Errol, NH, Ecuador and Cuba to meet people dedicated to the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. The second, “Bird Tales.”  Why are people so devoted to birds? Join Willem Lange as he meets migratory bird enthusiasts with fascinating BIRD TALES talking about their experiences with migratory birds from New England to New Jersey to Washington, DC to central Illinois to Nicaragua. You can sign up to attend these movies at our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/bird-walks/

Article Submitted by:  Nancy Brown
Photographs Submitted by:  Ed Konrad, Charles Moore, Patricia Schaefer

Join SIB for Birding on Crooked Oaks Golf Course

Register today to bird with SIB on Crooked Oaks

Monday, December 2, 2019 9:00 am – 11:30 am
Location: Meet at Island House (Golf Course Parking Lot next to Spinnaker Beach Houses) for ride along the golf course in golf carts.
Max: 30
Cost: None for members; $5 donation for guests

Each Monday one of the Golf Courses is closed, so join us for a morning of birding by RIDING in golf carts on Crooked Oaks golf course. We expect to see a large variety of birds including Double-crested Cormorants, Egrets, Herons, Bald Eagles and other birds of prey. We should also see and hear some of the smaller birds like Tufted Titmice, Eastern Bluebirds, Northern Cardinals and some of the many warbler species. Even some fall migrants might be seen and possibly our wintering residents.

As Learning Together on the Golf Course always, be sure to bring your binoculars, hats and sunscreen. Water will be provided.

If you are not yet a 2019 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $10 by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/. Or you may pay the Guest Fee of $5.

Register no later than Friday, November 29, 2019. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Saturday, November 30.

SIB’s Bird Safari at Kiawah River

On Friday, November 22, 2019, 17 members (including three new members!) joined us for a morning of birding at Kiawah River development. It was a beautiful morning and the birds were plentiful in the various rivers, ponds, marshes and forests.

Kiawah River is truly a special place with 2,000 acres of land in the early stages of development.

We saw 36 species during our travels, including 120 Hood Mergansers! Thanks to our photographers of the day, Patti Romano & Mary Van Deusen.

120 Hooded Merganser — Saw in 3 locations on the property. 100 seen and counted in North Pond
3 Wild Turkey
4 Pied-billed Grebe
13 Common Gallinule
25 Dunlin
8 Willet
4 Laughing Gull
17 Wood Stork
9 Anhinga
82 Double-crested Cormorant
7 Brown Pelican
11 Great Blue Heron
25 Great Egret
4 Snowy Egret
4 Little Blue Heron
3 Tricolored Heron
5 White Ibis
8 Roseate Spoonbill
4 Black Vulture
6 Turkey Vulture
1 Osprey
1 Northern Harrier
1 Cooper’s Hawk
3 Bald Eagle
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
5 Belted Kingfisher
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
2 American Kestrel
5 American Crow
11 Tree Swallow
1 Carolina Wren
1 Northern Mockingbird
5 Eastern Bluebird
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Palm Warbler
2 Pine Warbler

Number of Taxa: 36

It’s Not Too Late – Join Project FeederWatch

Project FeederWatch

A new season of the Project FeederWatch citizen-science project has just launched and you can still get in on the counting action to help scientists understand trends at feeders across the continent. FeederWatch participants count their feeder birds on two days per week that they choose (or as often as they can) between November and early April. Thousands of participants in the U.S. and Canada have been doing the count for 33 years and have amassed a tremendous database of observations that scientists use to track changes in bird populations over time. It’s one of the simple things you can do to help birdscount them!

Learn how to join Project FeederWatch or contact us at SeabrookIslandBirders@gmail.com