Article by Aija Konrad, photos by Ed Konrad and Charley Moore
On Monday, March 27, Ed and I birded on North Beach with Nolan Schillerstom, Coastal Program Coordinator, Audubon South Carolina, to help him prepare for Tuesday’s Stewardship training. We were treated to 1200 Red Knots feeding for over an hour on North Beach. Also good looks at our resident pair of American Oystercatchers, U5 and its mate. And three pairs of Wilson’s Plovers with males staking off their females and territory.
Tuesday, March 28, was Red Knot Training and Stewardship training led by Nolan from Audubon SC. We had 24 participants actively engaged with Nolan and the training. We learned about our threatened and endangered shorebirds and seabirds, who either are migrating or nesting at Seabrook North Beach. The Red Knots that migrate 18,000 miles roundtrip from South American to the Arctic, and reside at Seabrook in the spring to feed and rest on their long journey, were highlighted. We discussed how we can be more aware of the many threats to our North Beach habitat and birds. Nolan also discussed how to be good stewards on the beach, and gave us good tips on informing others about our birds and habitat.
Fifteen birders joined us on the Red Knot/Learning Together at the beach on a beautiful morning on Wednesday, March 29. What a great morning we had! As we got to the beach, the tide was just starting to recede. It seemed pretty quiet, but soon we were treated to a “fly by” of over 100 Black Skimmers heading toward Deveaux Bank. Out over the ocean we had a particularly odd sighting… eight Great Blue Herons. That is the first time I have seen this species circling over the ocean.
As we headed down past the “No Dogs Allowed” signs we began to see clouds of our target bird, the Red Knots, on the horizon. Several large groups flew by us heading out over the ocean and we estimated there were probably close to 1,800! Spotting a DNR truck, we ran into Janet Thibault and Felicia Sanders from SC DNR, who were checking out the knots. Janet answered questions from the group. We also found a smaller group of Red Knots with Dunlin, Sanderlings and a mixed tern flock (Forster’s and Royal) on the beach. Everyone got good looks at the birds in the scopes.
Our second target bird was the Wilson’s Plover and we found several of them on the dry, white sand area, along with three Semipalmated Plovers. Almost to the end of the inlet, we had a very exciting spot of five Piping Plovers, including one banded one, which Charley and Ed photographed. Some of our group had to leave, but seven die hard souls continued down to the end of the beach and back on the “highway.” We spotted more Wilson’s Plovers, including one banded and flagged bird. There seemed to be some “he-en’and she-en'” going on with the plovers, fun to see. In the distance soared an immature Bald Eagle, and an Osprey flew over us.
As we began the trek home, we saw several Willets and we were graced with a fly by of two American Oystercatchers, probably U5 and his mate. Six weary, but happy birders made it back to the parking lot three hours later, a very fun day!
For those SIBers that attended the training and bird walk this week, remember to practice what we “learned” and “watched” to inform others about the importance of “protecting” our birds that need our help on North Beach!
Seabrook Island–North Beach, Charleston, South Carolina, US
Mar 29, 2017 10:32 AM – 1:39 PM
- Wood Stork (Mycteria americana) 1
- Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus) 10
- Brown Pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) 15
- Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias) 8
- Great Egret (Ardea alba) 2
- Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor) 1
- White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) 7
- Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus) 2
- Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura) 1
- Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) 1
- Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus) 1
- American Oystercatcher (Haematopus palliatus) 2
- Black-bellied Plover (Pluvialis squatarola) 3
- Wilson’s Plover (Charadrius wilsonia) 7
- Semipalmated Plover (Charadrius semipalmatus) 3
- Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) 5
- Red Knot (Calidris canutus) 1800
- Sanderling (Calidris alba) 25
- Dunlin (Calidris alpina) 60
- Willet (Tringa semipalmata) 5
- Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia) 1
- Laughing Gull (Leucophaeus atricilla) 12
- Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis) 3
- Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri) 110 Counted in scope
- Royal Tern (Thalasseus maximus) 29
- Black Skimmer (Rynchops niger) 109
- Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura) 2
- Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) 1
- White-eyed Vireo (Vireo griseus) 1
- American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) 5
- Fish Crow (Corvus ossifragus) 8
- Carolina Chickadee (Poecile carolinensis) 1
- Tufted Titmouse (Baeolophus bicolor) 2
- Blue-gray Gnatcatcher (Polioptila caerulea) 1
- Northern Mockingbird (Mimus polyglottos) 1
- Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) 40
- Pine Warbler (Setophaga pinus) 1
- Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis) 2
- House Finch (Haemorhous mexicanus) 3