On Friday, January 5, 2018, Seabrook Island Birders participated in Audubon’s 118th Annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on the Sea Islands as we counted birds on our frozen, snow-covered island. We sent people to the beach, Camp St. Christopher’s, Palmetto Lake, Jenkins Point, Bohicket Marina, the water treatment and maintenance areas, and backyards! For a day that started at 21 degrees with ice and snow, more than 20 people participated and saw 112 unique bird species, just missing last years record of 116 species. We hope even more people will join us a year from now for the 2018 Christmas Bird Count on our quest to beat the Seabrook Island record of unique bird species. And possibly beat the record for Kiawah Island too!
Read below about our adventures and enjoy our photos!
The Backyard Birders
A record 11 families took part in the backyard birding for a total of 20 hours, recording 44 unique species, including five not seen elsewhere on the island. These included the Baltimore Oriole, Ruby-throated Hummingbird, Black-and-White Warbler, Common Yellowthroat and a Swamp Sparrow. Special thanks to our Backyard Birding participants:
- Jackie Brooks
- Paul Giardino
- Lucy Hoover
- Melanie & Rob Jerome
- Christina McHenry
- Charley Moore
- Dean Morr
- Patricia Schaefer
- Carl Voelker
- Marie Wardell
(Aija & Ed Konrad, David Gardner)
What a crazy experience, birding on our beach in frozen solid sand and snow!!! That was the start of our morning on the North Beach CBC. David Gardner, Ed and I headed out on a beautiful wintry day after our big snowfall for a most unusual CBC that would yield 59 species.
On the way out to the point, we got all the “salty” sparrows near the old inlet. Seaside, Nelson’s and Saltmarsh were out in good numbers on an almost high tide. A surprise was flushing 5 Clapper Rails from the grasses, some almost underfoot! Looking toward the cove, that is the old inlet, we saw excellent numbers of ducks. A surprise was a group of 8 Northern Shovelers, not commonly seen at Seabrook. Buffleheads won in numbers with Redheads and Lesser Scaup next. But the prize duck was a first time for Seabrook Island, a Long-tailed Duck! This is a great duck for our island.
Shorebirds were plentiful down on the point, with the most exciting find, a group of 5 Piping Plovers huddling in the snow on the beach. There were over 250 Dunlin and a large group of 56 Black-bellied Plovers. Oystercatchers, Marbled Godwits, a lone Whimbrel and Ruddy Turnstones were among the highlights. We finished the day with 59 species on North Beach…a CBC in the snow, one to remember!
Camp St. Christopher
(David Gardner, Justin Johnson, Lauryn Gilmer, Nathaniel Hernandez)
A team of four staff on Camp St. Christopher observed 42 species over a period of four and half hours and through four miles of beach, woods and ponds. Highlights included: 230 Red-winged Blackbirds, 405 American Robins, once again, all three marsh sparrows (Saltmarsh, Seaside and Nelson’s), 42 Scaup seen from the beach and a Barred owl that flew past the window while Justin Johnson ate his breakfast.
The Rest of Seabrook Island
(Judy Morr, Aija Konrad, George Haskins,
The sun was shining nicely off of the snow but it was a brisk 20 degrees when we began our search in the SIPOA / Club Maintenance Area and the Water Treatment Facility. 33 species were seen in this area including four Ruddy Duck, 13 Bufflehead and one Ring-necked Duck. The surprise of this stop was seeing two olive green birds with a yellow chest. Who would think on a snowy January morning we would see Painted Bunting? The day also ended with a brief return to this area where 13 species were observed including the expected Hooded Merganser which had joined the other ducks. This time, the surprise was an American Woodcock in the tree line between the SIPOA / Club Maintenance Area and the Community Garden. Both visits included Brown Thrasher and Eastern Towhee scratching under a bush looking for bugs among the leaves and snow.
It had warmed to the mid-30s as we got to Palmetto Lake where 30 species were seen. Although a sighting of Killdeer is not unusual, it was unusual that we observed numerous Killdeer at each stop throughout the day. Also at Palmetto Lake we saw the expected various Heron and Egrets. The prize “find” at this stop was seeing the Western Kingbird that was first observed on Tuesday and continued at various locations around the lake through Friday. During CBC, it was walking the path near the tennis courts side of the lake. We returned to Palmetto Lake later in the day and spent more time near the playground and on the nature trail. There the 24 species seen included seeing a Golden-Crowned Kinglet and a Blue-headed Vireo.
A drive down the various streets off of Jenkins Point resulted in 22 species being seen with three Tricolor Heron being the first of this species seen for the day. Since the golf courses were closed, the survey of that usually prolific site was done looking at the cart path and ponds near the Sealoft Villas. This brief stop resulted in nine species including a Belted Kingfisher, a good view of two Wood Storks and as we were leaving, a Coopers Hawk cooperated and landed on a nearby chimney. While making the drive back to Palmetto Lake, the trip was delayed while waiting for 17 Wild Turkeys to complete their crossing of Seabrook Island Road near Fox Lair. Surprisingly, this was the only siting of Turkeys during the our various birding sites.
Once again, thank you to all the participants of this years Christmas Bird Count! Even with the delay of a day due to snow and ice, the team did a fabulous job in searching out some great birds!
Article submitted by: Aija Konrad, Judy Morr, Nancy Brown
Photographs by: Ed Konrad, Charley Moore, Dean Morr, Nancy Brown