Aija & Ed’s Bird Sightings on North Beach last Friday

American Oystercatchers on North Beach - Ed Konrad
American Oystercatchers on North Beach – Ed Konrad

Date & Time of Sighting: Friday February 24, 2017, 6:30am to Noon

Location of Sighting: Seabrook Island North Beach

Name of Bird Species: Red Knot, American Oystercatcher, Merlin, Marbled Godwit, Black-bellied Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstone, Red’breasted Merganser, Bufflehead, Lesser Scaup

Number of Birds Sighted: 300 Red Knot, 83 American Oystercatcher, 1 Merlin, 5 Marbled Godwit

Comments: Sometimes you just get a magical morning birding at North Beach! Ed and I went out before sunrise, and started our checklist in the parking lot at 6:38 on a cloudless morning. High tide had been at about 6:15, so we had the benefit of a falling tide, with birds pushed up close to shore. This is our favorite tide to bird on.

Our first surprise was 53 American Oystercatcher down past the “No dogs allowed” sign. This is one of the biggest groups we have had on Seabrook, and Ed shot pictures with the rising sun in the background. The oystercatchers flew to the Kiawah side where they joined up with more oystercatchers for a grand total of 83!!! Wow! On the Beachwalker side we could also see numerous Forster’s Terns, Red Knots, gulls, Dunlin, and one Great Black-backed Gull in our scope.

As we continued down the beach we found a beautiful Merlin perched on the dead bush that has washed up on our beach. He’s our middle-sized falcon, between the American Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon. A real treat to see him on our beach, and he posed for great pictures in the early morning light. Soon after we found 5 Marbled Godwits on the inlet, along with 12 Black-bellied Plovers and an assortment of Short-billed Dowitchers, Dunlin, Ruddy Turnstones, and a few Red Knots. The usual contingent of Buffleheads, Lesser Scaup and Red-breasted Mergansers bobbed in the inlet.

Soon the Red Knots on Beachwalker began to fly to Seabrook, and we reached a grand total of almost 300! We photographed a few with flags and also one with a transmitter to track it’s journey. It is so exciting to see the knots gracing us with their presence already.

The Red Knots migrate over 9,000 miles, one of the longest migrations for any bird, from the tip of southern South American to the Arctic tundra to breed. We are an important stop along the way for them to feed. Their numbers will build to several thousand on our beach, during March and April, truly a spectacular sight! If you see them, respect their space and walk around them.

A great morning on out beautiful island.

Article by Aija Konrad, photos by Ed Konrad

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SIB “Bird of the Week” – Killdeer

Killdeer – Charadrius vociferus
Length:  10.5″; Wingspan: 24″; Weight: 3.3 oz.

Killdeer Chick - Ed Konrad
Killdeer Chick – Ed Konrad

I was birding at a horse pasture and was amazed to discover birds I had been searching for at the shore. They were Killdeer. I discovered that the Killdeer are the least water dependent of all shorebirds and can often be seen in farm fields where they can easily find insects. Killdeer also eat snails, crayfish, grasshoppers, beetles and worms.

Killdeer in a field - Ed Konrad
Killdeer in a field – Ed Konrad

The Killdeer is easy to recognize with their double black neckband (that look like necklaces), rusty rump and white belly. It has a slim shape with long wing and tail feathers. It also has a bright red eye ring and thin beak.

The Killdeer’s nest is a scrape or bare depression in the ground. It may add rocks, shells and other materials to the nest. To protect their nests the Killdeer will fly a short distance away and appear to have a broken wing, luring the threat away.  Most noticeable among the Killdeer’s many calls is the high, plaintive kill-deer the bird is named for.

When searching for a bird, go to the food source. In the case of the Killdeer, you can find it on the shore, a parking lot, or most often a field with plenty of insects.

If you would like to learn more about this bird visit:

Article submitted by:  Lydia McDonald
Photographs provided by: Charles Moore & Ed Konrad

This blog post is part of a series SIB will publish on a regular basis to feature birds seen in the area, both migratory and permanent residents.  When possible we will use photographs taken by our members.    Please let us know if you have any special requests of birds you would like to learn more about.

Bird of the Week … Who am I???

Who am I?

I exhibit a clever “broken wing display” in which I appear to be struggling with a broken wing while leading predators away from my nest.

Who am I?

Leave us a comment if you want to make a guess – and watch for the full article on Sunday morning!

 

Seabrook Island Birders participate in Audubon’s Great Backyard Bird Count

SIB Members enjoying a bird walk on North Beach during the GBBC - Ed Konrad
SIB Members enjoying a bird walk on North Beach during the GBBC – Ed Konrad

Seabrook Island Birders participated in the nationwide Audubon’s Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) on February 17th through the 20th. In addition to members reporting their sightings in their own backyard, 36 individuals also joined at least one of the five bird walks scheduled on Sunday February 19 and Monday February 20 at various venues around Seabrook Island.

Seabrook Island GBBC 2017 Summary
Seabrook Island GBBC 2017 Summary

Sunday morning started at 8:30 am with the group car pooling along Jenkins Point to check out various lagoons and vistas. Among the 28 species seen, the group enjoyed watching a Yellow-throated Warbler have breakfast on a pine cone.

The next walk was at Palmetto Lake and the Lake House. An Osprey crossed overhead multiple times to allow good views of banking and turning. Nineteen (primarily juvenile) White Ibis also flew overhead. Two Black-crowned Night-Herons and a Green Heron were near the water to provide a better view as were the Pied-billed Grebes and Double-crested Cormorant. Not to be outdone by their feathered friends, two alligators posed intertwined on the platform with five yellow bellied sliders basking on the alligators’ backs in the sun.

After a brief break, the third walk was along North Beach. Not surprising, a different variety of birds was seen on this walk. It would be hard to pick a highlight of this walk but the Northern Gannet in the distance as well as closer views of Horned Grebe, Dunlin and 42 Lessor Scaup were all crowd pleasers. Of course seeing banded Piping Plover and American Oystercatchers were also winners.

Sunday ended with a walk starting at the Equestrian Center and proceeding to the Garden and Maintenance Area. Eastern Bluebirds abound but bigger birds stole the show. Twenty-six (26) Wild Turkeys were gathered in one of the pastures. A Red-shouldered Hawk flew overhead then posed in a tree for pictures. As the group was leaving the Equestrian Center, a screech alerted of more activity and a picture of a pair of hawks mating was able to be captured. Continuing the big bird theme, a view into the holding pond past the maintenance area resulted in not only 25 Bufflehead but a rarer Common Goldeneye.

Monday ended the fabulous weekend with a “walk” in golf carts along the paths of Crooked Oaks Golf Course, closed to golfing for the day for maintenance. The 19 participants split in to two groups for a friendly competition regarding who could find the most species. One group started at 18 and went backwards on the course while another started at one. Sightings were shared when the groups met at the Bald Eagle’s nest on the hole #3. Unfortunately the Bald Eagle was not visible at that time but when one of the groups returned later, a mature eagle was watching over from above. A weekend high of 38 species was seen that morning with favorites that included the Wood Stork who appeared to be guarding over a 7 foot alligator along with the eagle mentioned above and an Eastern Towhee ground feeding near a feeder on the 17th hole.

Each walk saw American Crows (no surprise) and Yellow-rumped warblers with most walks reporting Carolina Chickadees and Tufted Titmice. The total number of each species by walk is shown below. A great weekend of contributing to citizen science and the Great Backyard Bird Count.

Article Submitted by:  Judy Morr
Photographs Submitted by:  Valerie Doane, Ed Konrad, Charles Moore & Dean Morr

Species Jenkins Point Palmetto Lake North Beach Equestrian Crooked Oaks Judy Crooked Oaks Nancy Grand Total
American Crow 4 3 3 6 6 8 30
American Goldfinch 2 2
American Kestrel 1 2 3
American Oystercatcher 2 2
American Robin 2 2 8 12
Anhinga 1 1 2
Bald Eagle 1 1 1 3 6
Belted Kingfisher 1 1
Black Vulture 4 4 8
Black-crowned Night-Heron 2 2
Blue Jay 9 6 3 2 20
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 1 1
Boat-tailed Grackle 5 5
Brown Pelican 1 15 16
Bufflehead 1 15 25 41
Carolina Chickadee 7 8 5 12 15 47
Carolina Wren 2 2 2 6 12
Cedar Waxwing 20 3 23
Common Grackle 1 2 3
Common Loon 1 1
Double-crested Cormorant 4 1 6 6 17
Downy Woodpecker 1 2 3
Dunlin 35 35
Eastern Bluebird 3 3 25 15 15 61
Eastern Phoebe 1 2 3
Eastern Towhee 1 1
Fish Crow 5 3 5 13
Forster’s Tern 8 8
Great Blue Heron 1 1 2
Great Egret 12 1 1 1 1 16
Green Heron 1 1
Hooded Merganser 4 4
Horned Grebe 3 3
House Finch 5 7 6 6 24
House Sparrow 1 1
Laughing Gull 2 2
Lesser Scaup 42 42
Little Blue Heron 2 2
Mourning Dove 1 7 3 11
Northern Cardinal 2 2 1 3 4 12
Northern Flicker 2 2 4
Northern Gannet 10 10
Northern Harrier 1 1
Northern Mockingbird 3 2 1 1 7
Osprey 1 3 4
Pied-billed Grebe 2 2 1 5
Pine Warbler 4 1 3 3 11
Piping Plover 2 2
Red-bellied Woodpecker 1 3 6 4 14
Red-breasted Merganser 2 2
Red-breasted Nuthatch 1 1
Red-tailed Hawk 1 1 2 4
Red-throated Loon 2 2
Red-winged Blackbird 30 3 5 38
Ring-billed Gull 12 12
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1 3 2 6
Snowy Egret 7 7
Tricolored Heron 4 1 5
Tufted Titmouse 6 3 12 11 32
Turkey Vulture 3 3 3 1 10
White Ibis 19 19
Wood Stork 2 1 3
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker 1 3 4
Yellow-rumped Warbler 15 10 5 15 6 8 59
Yellow-throated Warbler 1 2 4 7
Chipping Sparrow 3 3
Common Goldeneye 1 1
European Starling 15 15
Palm Warbler 3 3
Red-shouldered Hawk 2 1 3
Song Sparrow 1 1
Swamp Sparrow 1 1
White-throated Sparrow 1 1
Wild Turkey 26 26
Grand Total 131 94 196 162 127 111 821
Number of species 28 28 27 25 32 23 74

 

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse – Baeolophus bicolor
Length:  6.5″;  Wingspan:  9.75″;  Weight:  0.75 oz.

Aside from the Carolina Chickadee, this is probably the most likely visitor to a backyard feeder on Seabrook Island. It is silvery gray with a soft-colored orange just below its wing. It is a small bird but appears considerably bigger than a chickadee when they are next to one another, which they often are. Its crest is a good field mark.

During the summer months, titmice feed on insects but in the winter, they are particularly fond of sunflower seeds, and the bigger the better. If you have a feeder in your yard, you can watch as the titmouse picks out a large seed, holds it between its feet and pecks on it vigorously until the seed cracks open to release the tender heart inside. They are quite brave and will come to a feeder that is placed on a window providing a wonderful view for the homeowner.

The titmouse has a big sound for such a small bird. His main song sounds as though he is calling in a two-note descending minor third (for you musical folks) which is repeated usually three to four times: Peter Peter Peter. It’s a full, rich sound and quite distinguishable once you are familiar with it.

As the map below indicates, the Tufted Titmouse is here all year long. They build their nests in pre-existing tree cavities or sometimes in a bluebird box. They are quite territorial such that, even when breeding is finished, the male and female remain together and do not join with others as the chickadees do.

Tufted Titmouse pair nesting in a tree cavity.
Tufted Titmouse pair nesting in a tree cavity.

Watch for these little guys. They are not the biggest or the brightest (color, that is) but they grow on you! View this short video from Cornell Lab of Ornithology to see the Tufted Titmouse.

If you would like to learn more about this bird visit:

Article submitted by:  Marcia Hider
Photographs provided by: Ed Konrad and File Photos

This blog post is part of a series SIB will publish on a regular basis to feature birds seen in the area, both migratory and permanent residents.  When possible we will use photographs taken by our members.    Please let us know if you have any special requests of birds you would like to learn more about.

Bird of the Week … Who am I???

A common year round resident of Seabrook Island, I even enjoy eating from your feeders! Don’t guess too quickly, I am only 6 ½ inches long.

Who am I?

Leave us a comment if you want to make a guess – and watch for the full article on Sunday morning!

 

Free Season of FeederWatch When You Join Now

Do you have bird feeders and enjoy watching the birds? We want to let you know about an opportunity to try the Cornell Lab of Ornithology Project FeederWatch this year and receive the 2017-2018 FeederWatch season for FREE.  SIB would love to hear about your experience if you join – please let us know!

Also, watch for information about a new SIB program we plan to introduce to all Seabrook Island residents later this month.  The SIB Ambassador Program will offer assistance in identifying birds you see from your home!

Baltimore Oriole taken at the feeders of Jim & Donna Lawrence by Charles Moore
Baltimore Oriole taken at the feeders of Jim & Donna Lawrence by Charles Moore

Join Project FeederWatch by February 28 and receive next season free!

There is no easier way to connect with nature and contribute to science than by participating in Project Feederwatch. Even though the season is underway, every count matters, so there is plenty of time to contribute. You can still count birds until April!

What is Project FeederWatch?

Project FeederWatch lets you become the biologist of your own backyard. You identify the birds at your feeders and submit your observations to the Cornell Lab. You can count every week between November—April, or you can count only once all season—the time you spend is up to you! Our easy online data entry lets you immediately see all of your counts and view colorful summaries and graphs. Anyone interested in birds can participate; you don’t have to be an expert. All you need is a comfortable chair, a window, and an interest in the birds in your neighborhood.

What do I get when I register?

Participants will receive:

  • FeederWatch Handbook & Instructions
  • Full-color poster of common feeder birds
  • Bird-Watching Days Calendar
  • Our annual report, Winter Bird Highlights
  • Digital access to Living Bird magazine
Receive all of this FREE for joining Project FeederWatch
Receive all of this FREE for joining Project FeederWatch

Special offer expires February 28!

Wild Birds Unlimited wants to offset your FeederWatch membership fee by offering you $15 off any $50 purchase at their participating stores.

You will receive details for how to redeem this discount in your FeederWatch registration receipt. This offer expires on February 28, 2017. Restrictions apply. We are thankful to Wild Birds Unlimited for providing this special offer just for FeederWatchers participating in our 30th year, so be sure to thank them for supporting us when you visit their stores.

feederwatch3

Sign up for $18 ($15 for current Lab members) today. Your participation fee keeps the project running; without it, Project FeederWatch wouldn’t be possible.

We hope you will tell us about the birds at your feeders! 

Emma Greig
Leader, Project FeederWatch