Enormous flock of Whimbrel discovered on Deveaux Bank

Last night an announcement concerning Deveaux Bank was so special it was made at a special event held at the Charleston Museum to an audience filled with some of the state’s most notable naturalists. After years of monitoring and documentation, our backyard barrier island was found to be a stopover for tens of thousands of Whimbrels.

The largest-known flock of whimbrels was discovered roosting in coastal South Carolina. Andy Johnson/Cornell Lab of Ornithology/Provided

Read Post and Courier’s article about the announcement. The news release from SCDNR has even more information.

One question from the audience last night was “Where do the Whimbrel’s go during the day?” The answer was to neighboring beaches and marshes to hunt and eat. Seabrook Island Birders can attest to that. During the April 21 International Shorebird Survey on North Beach, Bob Mercer recorded 34 Whimbrel. That was considered a great number. Then on May 8, Aija Konrad reported 157 Whimbrel in the mudflats at the curve at Jenkins Point. During the May 31 International Shorebird Survey on North Beach, Mark Andrews reported 1 on the lagoon on North Beach. Most of the Whimbrels have now moved on to their breeding grounds in the Arctic.

YOU’RE INVITED: On Tuesday, June 22 at 6 p.m., join the team who made the discovery at Deveaux for a free virtual screening and panel discussion. Click here to learn more and register: http://bit.ly/WhimbrelDiscovery. As you watch the video, keep in mind the challenges the photographers, DNR personnel and ornithologists had to endure to capture the video and data.

You can learn more about Whimbrels here.

Deveaux Bank Seabird Sanctuary is closed year-round above the high-water line, apart from areas designated by signs for limited recreational use (beaches on the ends of the island, facing inland). From March 15 through October 15, some of the island’s beaches are closed for seasonal nesting of coastal birds and are demarcated by fencing. Dogs and camping are prohibited year-round. If you see violators to these rules, contact SCDNR at 1-800-922-5431.

Birth Announcement: Least Tern Chick!

Glen Cox was first to spot this chick on North Beach, Seabrook Island, SC. Mark Andrews found a second. Below is Mark’s best photo. He said, “It was only out a couple minutes then back under mom in a blink!”

Least Tern parent and chick – photo by Mark Andrews

Bird of the Week … Eastern Towhee

Eastern Towhee, Kennesaw GA – Ed Konrad

It is  very exciting to see and  identify a new bird. While walking along boardwalk 1 at North  Beach on Seabrook Island in May, I heard a bird singing quite loudly. It sang; drink your teeaaa, along with a long trill at the end.  I stood for a long time under the tree and finally I was rewarded with seeing a bird perched high in a tree. It had a black hood, reddish brown flanks , and white belly. It also had a white patch on its’ wing. I used a bird app and came up with a couple of possibilities. At first I  thought it might be a Orchard Oriole. Then I listened to songs on the app of the oriole and knew that was incorrect. Finally, I identified it as an Eastern Towhee by matching the description and song on the app.  The female is chocolate brown instead of black.  I later found out that it was high in the tree singing in order to attract a female.  The next week I saw it in the same area high in a tree singing. A week later I saw it again, this time on the ground under a bush. I discovered that Eastern Towhees eat insects and seeds from the ground. An interesting fact is that it scratches in leaf litter to find food while doing a type of backward hop.  Additionally, they are a sparrow. Next time you hear a bird singing , be patient and keep looking and you just might be rewarded with a look at a bird; a most wonderful sight. This bird has been seen again at Boardwalk 1 this year 2021. 

Repost from 2019 Article Submitted by:  Lydia McDonald
Photographs by: Ed Konrad

Anna’s Hummingbird

Hello Birders,

I’m sharing my prize capture on my recent tour of duty in Oregon. I fed these beautiful hummingbirds from my hotel room where I worked many months and on the last day I finally got a good picture of this interesting red head of the Anna species. Enjoy!

Lark Asbelle, guest at Seabrook Island, SC

North Beach Nesting Area Update: June 12, 2021

It has been a little over three weeks since the last blog post about the SCDNR-posted nesting area out on North Beach. Much larger dunes now cover the front two-thirds of the space closest to the signs and the lagoon behind it has shriveled in size with the high winds and the the lack of appreciable rain since early April. 

The wind and drifting sand were responsible for the loss of the first Least Tern nests that we saw April 30th and the king tides of late May reached the wrack line where another couple nests were lost. Nevertheless, the Leasties have re-nested. Janet Thibault assessed the situation on June 2. It’s hard to count the nests between the dunes but she thought that we might have about 12 pairs trying to nest. Some of the nests are just along the front signs. 

Our Shorebird Stewards check each day, but still no chicks. Please stay back from the signs. Of course, the terns will remind you with their dive-bombing and loud calls to keep your distance. Once the chicks are born, it will be important to watch where you walk especially any where there might be some bit of shade- a pile of wrack, a footprint or a tire track.

Photo of Least Terns with ghost crab

We also have two pairs of Wilson’s Plovers nesting inside the signs – one pair at each end. The Wilson’s will often be seen early in the morning hunting for food in the front wrack line or standing guard on a dune ridge. We have not seen chicks yet.

Photo of Wilson Plover

The most exciting news is that the American Oystercatcher 5U and his family have thrived. The chicks are almost four weeks old. Their bills are growing and becoming colorful. They have been out foraging on Tagelus (short razor) clams on the edge of the lagoon. 

(Photo of AMOY chick eating Clam with 5U at 2 1/2 weeks)

The parents still bring other food and shepherd them under plants when threats appear. The chicks may only be another week or so from flying (30-35 days) but will stay with their parents for another month or more after they fledge.

(Photo of AMOY family at three weeks)

The shorebird steward literature talks about the Umbrella Effect, where what we do to protect Threatened/Endangered species like the Least Terns and Wilson’s Plovers extends to other species of concern like American Oystercatchers. This year the North Beach nesting area has done just that- U5 & his mate are well on their way to fledging chicks in the protected dunes with the mutual aid of the Least Terns to turn back the predators that cost them their nests in previous years.

Article and photos by Mark Andrews

Learning Together-Ocean Winds Golf Course

Sunday June 13, 2021 8:30 am – 10:30 am
Birding on Ocean Winds Golf Course
Location: Meet at Island House (Golf Course Parking Lot next to Spinnaker Beach Houses) for ride along the golf course in golf carts
Max: 24 (If all seats in golf carts are used)
Cost: Free for members; $5 donation for guests – Priority will be given to prior waitlisted & members

Join us for a morning of birding by RIDING in golf carts for at least 9-holes on Ocean Winds 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.

As always, be sure to bring your binoculars/cameras, hats and sunscreen. Water will be provided. We ask that all participants wear a mask when unable to social distance.

If you are not yet a 2021 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $10 by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/. You may bring the form and your dues to the event. Or you may pay the Guest Fee of $5.

Please register no later than Friday June 11, 2021. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Saturday June 12, 2021. If you need to cancel, please let us know so we can invite people on the waitlist to attend.

REGISTER TODAY

Bird of the Week … Who am I?

Can you name the Oriole that arrives on Seabrook Island every spring and spends the summer with us until it is time to migrate again in the fall?  Here’s a hint so leave us a comment if you know the answer!

Who am I?

The male has a pretty rusty and black body, and the female is greenish-yellow. It has a pretty warbling song, it’s call is a sharp whistle and it also has a scolding chatter. It is often found near the first pond on Jenkins Point (listen for it’s chattering scold) and sometimes in the Bobcat Dune boardwalk area.  This year we have seen several  at the Lakehouse.  It favors open areas with scattered groves of trees, so human activities may have helped it in some areas, opening up the eastern woodlands and planting groves of trees on the prairies. Orchard Orioles often gather in flocks during migration. The black-throated young male, sitting alone in a treetop and singing his jumbled song, is often confusing to beginning birders. Forages mostly by searching for insects among the foliage of trees and bushes. Regularly visits flowers, probing in the blossoms with its bill. In winter in the tropics, often forages in flocks. (Audubon Field Guide)

“Oh, Baby!” – SIB’s June The Seabrooker

In case you don’t receive it, or haven’t had a chance to read it yet, we hope you will enjoy The Seabrooker’s June 2021 page 14. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) contributed a full page. The stories this month feature:

  • Oh, Baby! Birds you can expect to see nesting on Seabrook Island this Spring.
  • Deveaux Bank – Seabrook’s Wondrous Neighbor!Learn about the beautiful estuarine island seen off the coast of Seabrook Island.

Thanks to authors Aija Konrad & Judy Morr along with photographer Ed Konrad for their contributions this month. Ed also serves as our graphic designer!

And don’t forget, to learn more about SIB’s Shorebird Steward Program, open up this QR code (this Quick Response code is a bar code which will open a webpage when a phone camera is focused on it.)

Join SIB Backyard Birding at Clear Marsh

Wednesday June 9th, 2021 9:00-11:00 AM

Backyard Birding on Clear Marsh
Location: 2565 Clear Marsh Road
Max: 12
Cost: None for members; $5 donation for guests

Join SIB members at the home of Patricia and Page Schaefer at 2565 Clear Marsh on Seabrook Island on Wednesday June 9th, 2021 9:00-11:00 AM . Their home is in a beautiful wooded lot that has frequent song bird visitors. The Schaefer’s have a certified Audubon Garden and many bird feeders that attract a large variety of songbirds.

This event is free for SIB members. 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/.

Once you are a member, please complete the information below to register no later than Monday June 7th. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Tuesday June 8th.