Great Backyard Bird Count

Sunday February 20, 2020 8:00am – 5:00 pm
Great Backyard Bird Count
Location: Various locations around Seabrook Island
Max: 20 No cost to members, $5 to non-members

Connect to Birds, to Nature, and with Each Other! Birds are everywhere, all the time, doing fascinating things. Join Audubon and SIB, February 18–21, 2022, when the world comes together for the love of birds.

Check SeabrookIslandBirders.org/bird-walks/ to also register for:
– Shorebird Steward Training Seminar – Saturday February 19, 2022
– Learning Together on Ocean Winds Golf Course – Monday February 21, 2022

You can also do your own birding and submit your findings. This birding can be any time (and as many times) between 12:01am February 18 through 11:59pm February 21. Audubon gives the following steps:
Step 1 – Decide where you will watch birds.
Step 2 – Watch birds for 15 minutes or more, at least once over the four days, February 18-21, 2022.
Step 3 – Count all the birds you see or hear within your planned time/location and use the best tool for sharing your bird sightings (either Merlin or eBird). If you use eBird, “share” your eBird list with SIBeBird so we can compile a list for all of Seabrook. If you don’t use eBird, please answer the question below requesting a form you can write into, deliver to SIB and SIB will enter into eBird.

SIB’s organized GBBC activities are on Sunday.

Sunday February 20, 2020 8:00am – 5:00 pm
Great Backyard Bird Count
Location: Various locations around Seabrook Island
Max: 20 No cost to members, $5 to non-members

Join us in participating in Audubon’s Great Backyard Bird Count. The day will involve walks at various locations throughout the day. The schedule below allows for individuals to sign up for a portion of the day if the whole day is not of interest. We request you register for all sections you will be attending so we know if we should wait for you at any individual location.

– Maintenance Area /Equestrian Center 8:00-9:30 am
We’ll start at the Garden Parking Lot. We will walk through the Club Maintenance area and look over the fence to the retention ponds of the Water Treatment Facility. In this area we hope to see Hooded Mergansers, Buffleheads, Ruddy Ducks and songbirds and sparrows. From there, we will walk along the horse trail (or drive) to the Equestrian Center to see Starlings and Cowbirds plus numerous other birds that can be expected there.

– Palmetto Lake 10:00 – 11:30 am
Join us to explore the birds around the Lake House and the walks of Palmetto Lake. This is less than one mile of flat, paved walk around the lake.

– Bobcat Trail and Six Ladies Trail – 1:00-3:00 pm
The group will meet at the Owners Beach Access Parking Lot at Boardwalk 1 then walk along Boardwalk 1 to Bobcat Trail then on to Six Ladies Trail, then returning via the road to the parking lot. Six Ladies Trail is an uneven and at times steep walk through the maritime forest. This is an inaugural walk at this time of year so it is unknown what to expect other than the typical winter residents of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and of course Northern Cardinals, Carolina Wrens, Tufted Titmouse and Carolina Chickadees. While on the boardwalk we can expect to see Brown Pelicans, Ring-Billed Gulls and White Egrets. As we approach the marsh on Six Ladies Trail we also hope to see a Northern Harrier and hopefully see (or at least hear) a Clapper Rail.

– Jenkin’s Point 4:00-5:00 pm
We will be exploring the birds seen along Jenkins Point lagoons and streets, including ducks, wading birds and shorebirds. Since this event will be primarily by car, it is appropriate for members with mobility issues.

For all events, bring sun block, bug spray, a hat, water, snacks and binoculars.

If you are not yet a SIB member, you must first become a member for $10 by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/, or you may join each session for a single Guest Fee of $5.

Once you are a member, please REGISTER to let us know which portions you plan to attend no later than Thursday, February 17, 2022. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Friday, February 18, 2022.

Volunteer to Bird Your Backyard on Monday January 3rd, 2022

Each year starting on December 14th and continuing through January 5th, people across the country are participating in the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  Each count takes place on a specific day in an established 15-mile wide diameter circle, and is organized by a count compiler. Seabrook Island is part of the Sea Island SC count organized by Aaron Given, Wildlife Biologist at Kiawah Island. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) will again support this year’s 122nd annual CBC on the designated day of Monday January 3, 2022.  

This past year, on January 3, 2021, 19 SIB members contributed to the 2020 -2021 CBC. A total of 111 different bird species accounting for more than 6,000 birds were sighted by our volunteers during more than 80 equivalent hours in backyards, on the beach, at the marsh and beyond.

This year we are looking for all available “backyard birders” to assist with the count. All birds observed within a 24hr period on that day can be counted.   If interested, sign up here, and we will send you detailed instructions on how to record your observations throughout the day  to reduce the chance of double-counting the same individuals.  Please read the instructions carefully and if you have any questions, please let us know. 

Some more uncommon species that are notable and can be found at backyard feeders include hummingbirds,  Baltimore Orioles, and Painted Buntings.  Don’t assume all hummingbirds are Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  During the winter, it is not uncommon for western species such as Rufous Hummingbirds, Black-chinned Hummingbird, or others to make their way to the east coast.  If you have a “different” looking hummingbirds please try to get a photo of it so that it can get identified.    Even more rare could be Purple Finches, Pine Siskins, Red-breasted Nuthatches and Evening Grosbeaks

Please enjoy the photos taken by several SIB members during the day a few years ago.  If you are interested to participate in the 122nd Christmas Bird Count on Seabrook Island on Monday January 3, 2021, register today!


Photographs Submitted by:  Charles Moore, Patricia Schaefer

Volunteer to Bird Your Backyard on Monday January 4th, 2021

Each year starting on December 14th and continuing through January 5th, people across the country are participating in the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  Each count takes place on a specific day in an established 15-mile wide diameter circle, and is organized by a count compiler. Seabrook Island is part of the Sea Island SC count organized by Aaron Given, Wildlife Biologist at Kiawah Island. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) will again support this year’s 121st annual CBC on the designated day of Monday January 4, 2021.  

This past year, on January 3, 2020, 19 SIB members contributed to the 2019 -2020 CBC. A total of 98 different bird species accounting for more than 3,000 birds were sighted by our volunteers during more than 80 equivalent hours in backyards, on the beach, at the marsh and beyond.

This year we are looking for all available “backyard birders” to assist with the count. All birds observed within a 24hr period on that day can be counted.   If interested, sign up here, and we will send you detailed instructions on how to record your observations throughout the day  to reduce the chance of double-counting the same individuals.  Please read the instructions carefully and if you have any questions, please let us know. 

This winter is an irruption year for northern finches.  That means that certain species that normally are not found in the south are here this winter in search of food.  The normal food crops that they would have fed on up north did not produce well so the birds are forced to find food elsewhere.  Some example of these species include Purple Finches, Pine Siskins, and Red-breasted Nuthatches.  Evening Grosbeaks have been seen as far south as NC and northern GA.  Purple Finches and House Finches are be hard to identify as they look very similar.  Here is a couple of resources that I found that might be helpful in determining if you have House Finches, Purple Finches, or both.  If you are having trouble, try to get a photo.   

https://www.thespruce.com/house-finch-or-purple-finch-387318

https://www.sdakotabirds.com/diffids/house_purple.htm

Other more uncommon species that are notable and can be found at backyard feeders include hummingbirds,  Baltimore Orioles, and Painted Buntings.  Don’t assume all hummingbirds are Ruby-throated Hummingbirds.  During the winter, it is not uncommon for western species such as Rufous Hummingbirds, Black-chinned Hummingbird, or others to make their way to the east coast.  If you have a “different” looking hummingbirds please try to get a photo of it so that it can get identified.    

Please enjoy the photos taken by several SIB members during the day a couple years ago.  If you are interested to participate in the 121st Christmas Bird Count on Seabrook Island on Monday January 4, 2021, register today!


Photographs Submitted by:  Charles Moore, Patricia Schaefer

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

Take Part in Global Big Day This Saturday May 9th!

Although we can’t host our annual Global Big Day bird walks, we want to encourage everyone to participate in a safe and responsible manner! A few of us will be scouring Seabrook Island to document as many birds as we can find in as many locations as possible. We hope you, whether you are on Seabrook Island or another location anywhere in the world, will take just a few minutes to record the birds you see! Below are easy instructions and “pro tips” on how you can participate! If possible, “share” your eBird list with SIBEBIRD so we can track the number of checklists, species and birds our members document for the day! If you need help, just email us so we can assist!

Read more specifics about Global Big Day 2020!

Continue reading “Take Part in Global Big Day This Saturday May 9th!”

Seabrook Island Results from the 120th CBC

For the fifth year, Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) participated in the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC) on Friday January 3rd, as part of the Sea Islands CBC. This was the 120th Christmas Bird Count since its creation in 1900.

Aija Konrad – CBC North Beach – Ed Konrad

The day started considerably mild with temperatures in the high 60’s, but strong winds and rain, fog and dropping temperatures later in the day slowed our birding. Eleven volunteers birded in “the field” at seven major “hot spots” on Seabrook Island:

  • North Beach
  • Camp St. Christopher
  • Palmetto Lake
  • Jenkins Point
  • SIPOA Maintenance Center
  • Equestrian Center
  • Bohicket Marina

Aija and Ed Konrad win the prize for the “Most Steps” in the day!

Aija’s steps – CBC North Beach

Eight additional volunteers birded their backyard feeders and/or in their neighborhood. Highlights included the Ruby-throated Hummingbird and an Orange-crowned Warbler!

A total of 98 different bird species accounting for more than 3,000 birds were sighted by our volunteers during more than 80 equivalent hours.

Three of our members were able to join Aaron Given at the Kiawah Town Office for the annual Sea Islands CBC Countdown. More than 150 species were documented in the 15 mile diameter circle which includes Seabrook Island.

Sea Islands CBC Team

We appreciate all the time and effort made by our 19 volunteers and hope even more will join us next year for this annual bird count!

Photos by: Ed Konrad, Dean Morr, Patricia Schaeffer & Nancy Brown

Volunteer to Assist with the 120th Christmas Bird Count on Seabrook Island

(Article written for the December issue of The Seabrooker)

Each year starting on December 14th and continuing through January 5th, people across the country are participating in the annual Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  Each count takes place on a specific day in an established 15-mile wide diameter circle, and is organized by a count compiler. Seabrook Island is part of the Sea Island SC count organized by Aaron Given, Wildlife Biologist at Kiawah Island. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) will again support this year’s 120th annual CBC on the designated day of Friday January 3, 2020.  

Count volunteers follow specified routes through their designated 15-mile diameter circle, counting every bird they see or hear all day. It’s not just a species tally—all birds are counted all day, giving an indication of the total number of birds in the circle that day. The data collected by observers over the past century allow Audubon researchers, conservation biologists, wildlife agencies and other interested individuals to study the long-term health and status of bird populations across North America. When combined with other surveys such as the Breeding Bird Survey, it provides a picture of how the continent’s bird populations have changed in time and space over the past hundred years.

The first CBC was held on Christmas Day 1900 and was organized by ornithologist Frank M. Chapman, an early officer in the Audubon Society.  His proposal was to create a new holiday tradition of a “Christmas Bird Census” that would count birds during the holidays rather than the traditional Christmas “Side Hunt,” where teams of hunters competed to bring home the biggest pile of feathered or furred animals.

This past year, on January 4, 2019, 30 SIB members contributed to the 2018-2019 Sea Island Christmas Bird Count (CBC).  In total we had ten homes who submitted Backyard Birding forms and we had another ten groups who submitted the forms for all across Seabrook Island, including Camp St. Christopher, the beach, golf courses, horse pastures, ponds and marshes.

Our teams identified 99 species on our island.  This was less than the previous two years (112 & 116 respectively), most likely due to the extremely foggy and rainy weather. On that day, no one on Seabrook Island even saw a Wood Stork, Turkey or Black Vulture! However, it was impressive that of 20 locations, at least 14 of these reported a unique species!  Other interesting facts are we had 3 locations with a Baltimore Oriole and 6 locations with a Ruby-throated Hummingbird – all of which were seen in backyards, demonstrating the importance of our members participating from their home locations!

Please enjoy the photos taken by several SIB members during the day, including birds at backyard feeders, birds through the fog at North Beach and some candids of our birders doing what they love!  If you are interested to participate in the 120th Christmas Bird Count on Seabrook Island on Friday January 3, 2020, please visit our website (SeabrookIslandBirders.org/bird-walks/) or send an email (SeabrookIslandBirders@gmail.com). You can volunteer to stay at your home and report the birds that visit your feeder or even join experienced birders who will travel the island throughout the day.

Finally, if you are interested to learn more about the annual Christmas Bird Count, join SIB for our final 2019 movie matinee on Monday, December 16, at 4:30 pm.  We will show two hour-long documentary style films from PBS featuring Willem Lange. The first, “Counting on Birds.” How did a Christmas-time tradition of shooting birds change to one of counting them? Willem Lange travels to Keene & Errol, NH, Ecuador and Cuba to meet people dedicated to the National Audubon Society’s Christmas Bird Count. The second, “Bird Tales.”  Why are people so devoted to birds? Join Willem Lange as he meets migratory bird enthusiasts with fascinating BIRD TALES talking about their experiences with migratory birds from New England to New Jersey to Washington, DC to central Illinois to Nicaragua. You can sign up to attend these movies at our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/bird-walks/

Article Submitted by:  Nancy Brown
Photographs Submitted by:  Ed Konrad, Charles Moore, Patricia Schaefer

Paid Position to Re-Sight Banded Red Knots (April-May)

Below is an email request from Felicia Sanders, SC DNR, on our interest in having someone on the beach this spring to look for and report banded Red Knots on Seabrook and Kiawah Islands, and do some stewardship on Red Knots while on beach. It’s a paid position, $10/hr for April through May. Interested people can either contact SIB or Felicia directly.

6Red Knots, North Beach, April 2016
Red Knots, North Beach, April 2016 – Ed Konrad

The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) received a small grant to help protect Red Knots. It may be too late to implement this spring but thought I would see if you know the perfect candidate. We have some money to hire someone to re-sight banded knots at Kiawah and Seabrook. They would also speak to the public about not disturbing the knots while they are on your beaches (a Red Knot steward). Please read the details below. If you know of someone that would be interested, please have them contact me asap. If we find someone, we will make certain they work with local people already on the beach re-sighting and working on shorebird conservation.

Thanks,

Felicia


SC Department of Natural Resources is seeking one field technician to assist in a re-sighting study of Red Knots in South Carolina. This is an incredible opportunity to study a species of high conservation concern on the beautiful barrier islands. Responsibilities include accurately re-sighting color bands and alpha-numeric flags of Red Knots, determining flock size of knots, some foraging observations, and data entry and proofing. This effort will primarily be on Kiawah and Seabrook Islands where thousands of Red Knots gather in the spring before they fly to Arctic nesting areas. Educating beach goers about shorebird conservation is also part of this job. This job can be full time, part time or even just on weekends. Employment ASAP (prefer April 1) to June 1, 2019.

Qualifications:

Applicants must be able and willing to spend long days in the field, often walking several miles along the beach, and spending many hours observing birds through spotting scopes. Applicants should be willing to learn about Red Knots and other shorebirds of the east and be excellent at speaking with the public. The candidate must be able to drive to Kiawah and Seabrook so a reliable car and location near Charleston is preferable.

Salary:

Salary will be $10/hour

How to Apply:

Send inquiries to Felicia Sanders SandersF@dnr.sc.gov.  Position will be filled as soon as a qualified applicant is found.

Another Successful Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)

 

IMG_2088
SIB invited children on Seabrook Island to join us to Bird at Palmetto Lake – Judy Morr

Each year the Audubon encourages everyone to be a citizen scientist and document the birds they see in their yards and travels during the Presidents Day weekend (this year Friday February 15 – Monday February 18).  For our third year in a row, SIB organized four walks on Sunday each at different habitats, including the beach, salt marsh, ponds, and woodlands.  A final birding trip using golf carts on Ocean Winds golf course was held on Monday. In total throughout the five trips, we had a record 85 bird species recorded for the GBBC with 28 people participating from age 11 through … well, we didn’t actually ask! Thank you to all our members who came out to bird and contribute to this annual bird count as a citizen scientist! A special thanks to David Green of Camp St. Christopher and part-time resident Bob Mercer who led some of the trips! We hope to see out at one of our upcoming bird walks or evening events. Please enjoy our photos from the events taken by some of our members.

Continue reading “Another Successful Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC)”

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