SIB Christmas Bird Count

Short-billed Dowitcher, Black-bellied Plover, Ruddy Turnstone @ North Beach – Ed Konrad

On January 4, 2021, Seabrook Island Birders participated in our most productive annual Christmas Bird Count ever! A record number 114 species, and we suspect a record number of individual birds with nearly 6,500. We had 10 teams of birders hitting Seabrook Island “hotspots” of Jenkins Point, Palmetto Lake, North Beach, Creek Watch, Camp St Christopher, SIPOA/Club horse pasture and maintenance area, Crooked Oaks and Ocean Winds golf courses, and Bohicket Marina. In addition our team consisted of seven feeder watch homes sighting 65 species and 279 individual birds. We walked 26 miles, drove 3.3 miles and rode in golf carts 9.8 miles for 77 people hours of effort!  Amazing!

The Christmas Bird Count (CBC) is a census of birds in the Western Hemisphere, done annually done Dec 14 to Jan 5 by volunteer birdwatchers, and administered by the National Audubon Society. The first count began Christmas Day 1900, when Frank Chapman, ornithologist at the American Museum of Natural History in NY, proposed it as an alternative to hunting birds on Christmas. Audubon and other organizations use data collected to assess the health of bird populations, and to help guide conservation action. Our Seabrook Island CBC is part of the larger Sea Islands CBC done on Seabrook, Kiawah, Johns and Wadmalaw Islands.

In addition to our CBC being an important contribution to Aubudon and understanding and protecting our birds species…we all had a great time! Here’s some memorable moments from some of the Seabrook Island Birders.

From Judy Morr, “It was a fun day, with the highlight being the sightings of so many Purple Finches on Seabrook.  I had seen them before at Caw Caw but never on Seabrook.  It was fun making sure we had the correct identification versus House Finch.  Another “frustration “ was trying to find the nuthatch when there were so many robins chattering away.”

Nancy Brown was with Judy for the day, and really liked “Hearing and seeing the Red Breasted Nuthatch on Old Wharf Rd. – which is pretty reliable to hear.” It’s also a stunning bird to see if you’re fortunate to spot it! Nancy also commented on the non-stop texting between the teams to see if certain species were found, and asking “I just saw this bird but can’t identify for sure, can anyone help???!!!” 

Patricia Schaefer was “most excited to see both the male and female Baltimore Orioles today because they have only recently started coming again to our feeder after having noticed them being seen in nearby cities. We were glad they showed up for the count!”

Lesley Gore also was thrilled with the Baltimore Orioles – “The day of the CBC, I eagerly waited to see which species would  show up to my bird feeder. At first it was the usual visitors – Carolina Chickadees, Chipping Sparrows, Carolina Wrens, Tufted Titmouse and Cardinals. Then, a new visitor – with brilliant orange and yellow plumage underside and black and white wings! Yes, a Baltimore Oriole. My first ever time of attracting one to my feeder. So excited to see one! After a few sips of sugar water, a bite of orange she flew away with a beak full of strawberry preserves! My new visitor did not come again that day. There’s always tomorrow!”

Bob Mercer too was amazed at the Robins before heading to Camp St Christopher and the marina. “The morning started with an almost non-stop river of American Robins all headed up the Stono River. The numbers were astronomical and undoubtedly the total count for the day is an underestimate. Wandering around, occasionally lost, in Camp St. Christopher, I kept running across new species. Some of the treasured finds included the Seaside and Saltmarsh Sparrows, 12 Wood Ducks, and 7 species of warbler. My day ended at the marina watching Marbled Godwits fly up Bohicket Creek.

Aija and Ed Konrad walked 21000 steps on North Beach, and were “out on the beach by dawn on a beautiful morning, greeted by and startled on the boardwalk by a very large buck! Our best moment was seeing over 17 “salty” sparrows on the old inlet. We’ve never quite figured out where they hide on a high tide, and found them in a dry grassy area to the left of the marsh. A thrill to see so many, but it’s a “now you see ‘em, now you don’t bird”, up and back down into the marsh grass in a flash!”

Ed is always entertained looking for interesting photo subjects, and “capturing a Bufflehead and the Red-breasted Mergansers take flight was a fun challenge. We enjoy searching for our Piping Plover winter guests. Today there was a wonderful trio huddled in the sand, and the Great Lakes banded/endangered “Red Yellow” was still with us and staying safe on North Beach!”

Thanks to everyone that participated! You can see what a fun and productive time we all had! Article by Ed and Aija Konrad