SIB’s final April activity was a “Beyond our Backyard” Friday visit to Beidler Forest. On Tuesday, the forecast was for 98% chance of rain so we started communications with Beidler about alternatives given the forecast. 4 of us decided to attend if the weather was at all favorable. Given the small group, we would tour on our own rather than being led by an Audubon staff member.
Friday dawned with gorgeous weather so we were on our way. The trip went fast as we shared our recent travel and birding stories. We decided quickly the trip was not going to be “just about the birds”. As we arrived at Beidler, our ears were quickly alerted to a symphony of sound. The birds were happy after the overnight rain! As we walked to the building, we heard Ovenbird, Carolina Wren, Tufted Titmouse, Hooded Warbler and a Worm-eating Warbler. What a way to start!
As we walked the boardwalk, we continued to hear and see birds. Our target bird, a Prothonotary Warbler was slow in showing itself but once it did, we heard and saw them everywhere. We almost got to the point of “it’s just a Prothonotary Warbler”. They sang over the boardwalk, in trees near the boardwalk and off in the distance. Among the 40 species recognized, we had a great look at the Worm-eating Warbler. This was a life list addition for Jennifer as were the Veery and the Swainson’s Warbler.
I was happy to actually get a good look at an Acadian Flycatcher since I often just hear them. I wasn’t expecting to get such a close look, for an extended period of time, at the Yellow-crowned Night-heron. Bob not only helped us identify the birds by sound but helped us see the birds. As with all SIB activities, all of us helped each other see the birds. Although the lighting presented challenges, Bob also got some great pictures.
As mentioned above, our varied interests meant the excursion wouldn’t just be about birds. All the bird sightings were interspersed with other nature sightings. A photo op presented itself when a Broadhead skink and a Forest Tent Caterpillar were seen in what appeared to be a staring contest. We also saw the White-marked Tussock Moth caterpillar resting on the rail. (Note, we did some Google image searches while on the boardwalk but some of our identification was done upon returning home, using Bob’s pictures).
No visit to Beidler would be complete without seeing an alligator but none of us thought to take a picture since we see so often on Seabrook Island. We did have a lengthy discussion about what type of snakes we saw. One in the mud below the boardwalk and two sunning themselves on the boardwalk were determined to be Brown Watersnakes since they had round iris.
Dragonflies and Damselflies were showing their beautiful color. While Bob was photographing an Ebony Jewelwing, Jennifer told me to stand still so she could use her phone to snap a picture of my hitchhiker. While we were eating lunch, our bug “collection” continued when the first Firefly of the season was seen crawling nearby. After I saw that, I had to sign-up for their mailing list regarding Firefly programs.
Of course we also had to admire the plants. All the cypress knees occasionally fooled us to thinking a bird was perched. The 1000 year-old Bald Cypress was a totally different “old” tree than Angel Oak. We also had some discussions on the Lizard’s Tail and an yellow flower Kristen of Beidler helped us identify as Butterweed. There were also butterflies/moths we enjoyed watching but didn’t discuss identification in detail.
After lunch, we decided to have a “brief” visit to Beidler’s Woodland and Grassland Trails. We were able to limit our visit to under an hour. Totally different environment than the boardwalk so different birds were seen. Multiple types of grasshoppers were seen but we really did focus on birds. Jennifer was able to get us all on the Painted Bunting that sang the entire time of our walk. An Indigo Bunting was singing his part in the duet. While on the trail, we got our “first of season” Purple Martins and a pair of Mississippi Kites.
We didn’t record the total number of non-bird species identified but we recorded 45 bird species on a wonderful spring day out in nature. We all are looking forward to going back again next spring, if not before.
Submitted by: Judy Morr