Global Big Day – Marathon Birding

Nine locations, 93 species, 2,082 individual birds, 11 hours and 20,000+ steps are the numbers I reported for my marathon day of birding.  Bob Mercer and I spent the long day doing social distancing while birding.  Six others joined us at varying locations to participate in the fun.  Let me tell you more about my day.

High water at the Slough – Nancy Brown

We started the day at 6:30 with a visit to Camp St. Christopher.  We were granted permission to bird in this closed facility.  (Our individual donations to the Camp were appreciated!)  Bob was able to identify the numerous birds we heard in the dawn chorus.  The day started with Painted Buntings and Summer Tanagers.  46 species were seen on our 2.7 mile walk.  (Mark Andrews admitted he didn’t realize such long trails could be hidden in the relatively small gem.)  At the slough (with very high water) we saw a flock of Cedar Waxwings that had yet to go north.  Near there, we also heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo and two Black-throated Blue Warblers.  This was also the only location we reported a White-eyed Vireo, a Red-eyed Vireo or Eastern Kingbird.

Chilly morning birding North Beach – Nancy Brown

Our second location of the day was the always interesting North Beach.  The wind was chilly and brutal but we saw 45 species and almost 3 miles.  One Piping Plover, American Oystercatchers (including the infamous U5), a small number of Red Knots, Wilson Plovers, Black-bellied Plovers and Least Terns were seen.  In greater abundance were Semipalmated Plovers (700), Semipalmated Sandpipers (75), Dunlins (125), Sanderlings (100), and Royal Terns (75).  Of course, Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls were there as well.  On the return walk from the spit, a Savannah Sparrow was seen running along the dune.

Rookery – too many nests to count – Jackie Brooks

The last stop of the morning probably had the greatest concentration of birds.  We stopped to see the rookery on the golf course lagoon that backs to houses on The Haulover.  We had to guess at the numbers of birds as they were everywhere.  Some Great Egrets had penthouse nests on tops of palms.  Wood Storks were still constructing their nests.  Great Egrets and Snowy egrets were feeding their young.  Even Cattle Egret were in residence at this commune as were several pairs of Anhinga.  A total of 15 species were seen in this brief stop.

Orchard Oriole – Jackie Brooks

The afternoon started with a walk around Palmetto Lake.  A mature male Orchard Oriole, a female Orchard Oriole and a first-year male all gave us good views to get a good comparison of the varying plumage.  In one hour and about three quarters of a mile, 30 species were seen.

Mississippi Kite – Jackie Brooks

First seen at this location then seen again later in the day were Northern Rough-winged Swallows and a beautiful Mississippi Kite.   When a European Starling crossed our path, we could eliminate the Horse Pasture from our scheduled itinerary and make up for lost time.

The Maintenance Area was next on our stop.  The 29 species were all seen in less than .2 mile and a half hour.  By this time, our legs appreciated this.  Highlights were three Mississippi Kites circling along with two Red-shouldered Hawks.  A mama Killdeer was there with her chicks.

An elegant Black-necked Stilt was seen.  25 Least Sandpipers were near at hand.  When planning our day, this was the location we hoped to see the Spotted Sandpiper.  There were four here but we also saw them bobbing their tails at three other locations.

Green Heron – Jackie Brooks

Jenkins Point resulted in 33 species over 1.4 mile.  Although seen in five locations, the 10 Green Heron seen here were the peak.  One was building a nest and another posed nicely for a photo.  There were no species seen only at this location but 13 Black-crowned Night Herons were another highlight.  All participants admired but stayed clear of the numerous “baby” alligators.  It was agreed, those were probably either one or two years old.

Nesting Eurasian Collared-Dove – Nancy Brown

Nancy Brown joined Bob and I for our last stop at Bohicket Marina.  The Eurasian Collared-Dove was the goal for this stop.  It was an easy find since one is nesting on Nancy and Flo’s porch.  Other unique finds within the 21 species seen were Chimney Swifts and Black Skimmers (missed at North Beach).

After I was home and enjoying that glass of wine, I was able to add to my day’s list with a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a Wild Turkey, and a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak.  As night settled in, I heard the Chuck-will’s-Wwidow as my 93rd species of the day.

“Expected” but not seen were Eastern Towhee, White-breasted Nuthatch (Friday’s sighting didn’t count), any owls, and Black-and-white Warbler.  With these notable misses, I may have to try again next year with a  goal of 100 species.

Submitted by: Judy Morr

Global Big Day – My backyard observations

Last week, SIB reminded us of Global Big Day on Saturday.  I chose to recognize the day by observing birds in my backyard while my wife scoured the island in an attempt to see the maximum number of birds in a day. 

Armed with my binoculars, a camera and Merlin Bird ID app, I was ready to bird from the comfort of my sunroom and deck.  Early in the morning, I refilled the feeders and bird baths to provide my feathered friends with their favorite treats.  Through-out the day they expressed their appreciation with their visits.

Red-bellied Woodpecker – Dean Morr

For the day, I was able to report 20 species.  The first visitors of the day were the American Crows, but they were quickly followed by Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Tufted Titmouse and Painted Bunting.  The day ended with two species I was unable to photograph….a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak at the feeder and the finally, the noisy Chuck-will’s-widow identified only by its sound.

Red-tail Hawk, looking for lunch – Dean Morr

The fun highlight of the day was when I heard a ruckus of several Blue Jays.  I looked out to see they had chased a Red-tailed Hawk to a limb at the corner of the yard.  I literally ran for the camera (always where you are not) and was able to capture him on “film”.   Just as I put the camera away, a “thump” was heard.  The hawk had left its perch and had hit the birdbath in a successful capture of a squirrel. 

Osprey overhead – Dean Morr

Never able to capture it with my camera, I watched it carry its prey from a branch on one corner of the yard to his original perch then finally chased by some crows to a neighbor’s yard.  One less Seabrook Island squirrel trying to find a way to eat the birds’ food.  A Great Egret meandered over the yard in search of a skink but neither he nor I were successful in capturing our prey.  I did get a picture of the Osprey flying over plus several other pictures as seen below.

Patricia Schaefer, Melanie Jerome and Joleen Ardaiolo also shared their backyard finds with SIB.  They were able to report a Common Ground Dove (Patricia), Common Grackle (Patricia), Belted Kingfisher (Joleen), and White-breasted Nuthatch (Joleen) which were not seen by the marathon birders.  Expect to hear more about the marathon birders’ day in another blog.

Submitted by: Dean Morr

Happy Mother’s Day from SIB

Stuck in the house?  Miss birding? Think there is nothing but what is at your feeder to watch?  During the past month I have spent most of my time on our porch, but I am usually reading and/or glancing only at the feeder activity. Lately, I have started looking up rather than down and out at the feeders. Had I not changed my perspective I would have missed the Great Crested Flycatcher, the “Butterbutts” (Yellow-rumped Warblers), the Black-and-white Warbler, and the White-breasted Nuthatch.  So, while you are quarantined change your perspective. Look up and around in more ways than one. 

Read more of this article and see the photo gallery story by Jackie Brooks, click below:

Continue reading “Happy Mother’s Day from SIB”

“How Bird-Watching Prepared Me for Sheltering in Place”

A member of Seabrook Island Birders thought others might be interested in this great article on “How Bird-Watching Prepared Me for Sheltering in Place.”

Chimney Rock, on the eastern spur of the Point Reyes headlands in California, is well known for the elephant seals that congregate there. One afternoon, while walking down the path overlooking them, I saw a woman looking through a spotting scope on a tripod, directed out toward the water. It turned out she was watching seabirds. She told me she started bird-watching as she got older because she was analytically minded, loved numbers and words, but struggled with visual memory and acuity and wanted to strengthen those faculties. Having similar proclivities, I listened closely. Eventually, she asked me if I wanted to look.

By Nicholas Cannariato, New York Times Magazine, April 22, 2020

Read more here

Take a Look at the “Bird Library”

We hope you enjoy this article and livestream of a special library! Thanks to Joleen Ardaiolo for sharing this story from Time.com.

Livestream of the Belmont Library for Birds

Take a Moment to Dip Into the Miniature World of This Library For Bird

While many libraries across the country have closed due to coronavirus, there’s one library that’s staying open — and its flocks of visitors are overjoyed about it.

The Belmont Library for Birds, located in Charlottesville, VA., has open hours all day for all avian friends and even a few squirrels and a livestream for human companions who are responsibly practicing social distancing.

Time.com
(To see the full article click above)