Join SIB for October Big Day

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Saturday October 19, 2019 7:30am – 6:00 pm
October Big Day on Seabrook Island
Location: Various locations around Seabrook Island
Max: 10 Cost: No cost to members, $5 to non-members

Join us in participating in eBird’s October Big Day. The event 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.

  • Camp St. Christopher – (Sunrise 7:27am) – 7:30 am – 10:00 am
    At this site we plan an active walk in search of migrating warblers and others through the various habitats on the property. Expect to walk at least 2 miles on wooded paths. Meet in the bus parking area.
  • North Beach – (High Tide 12:35 pm) – 10:30 AM – 1:00 AM
    The group will walk the 2 miles to Captain Sam’s Inlet. Those unable to walk the entire distance may turn around at any time. The group will work together to identify those hard to distinguish plovers and sandpipers. Red Knots may even be sited. The walk is scheduled around the high tide when the birds will be consolidated on a narrower beach. Meet at the Owners Beach Access Parking Lot at Boardwalk .
  • Equestrian Center / Maintenance Area – 1:30 – 3:00 PM
    Starlings and Cowbirds plus numerous other birds can be expected. A large number of birds will likely be seen near the parking area but then a walk along the horse trail to the maintenance and garden area may be added to see a different variety of birds.
  • Palmetto Lake – 3:00 – 4:30 PM
    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. Meet at the Lake House parking lot.
  • Jenkin’s Point – 4:30 – 6:00 PM (Sunset 6:43 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. Meet at Jenkins Point Ct, the street after the first pond on the left.

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 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, October 17, 2019. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Friday, October 18, 2019.

Summer on North Beach – Reddish Egret, Spoonbills with Dolphins, and more!

It was a great summer for birding North Beach! Some days it was literally a cast of a thousands…terns, gulls, skimmers, oystercatchers, and a nice mix of shorebirds. Most birds gathered at the bend toward the inlet on a sandbar. My favorite time to go is just before or after high tide, when the birds are pushed in for good views. Once they start to disperse it is hard to see them on the distant sandbars. Often when we walked out to the beach, we were greeted by Painted Buntings…singing, calling, and near the end of the summer perched on grasses eating seed.

A late summer favorite is the Reddish Egret. We’ve been seeing one, sometimes two, on North Beach for many years. Each time we spotted this year’s Reddish it stayed for a couple of hours in the large tidal pool – giving us great looks of it’s feeding behavior “dance” – running through shallows with long strides, staggering sideways, leaping in the air, raising one or both wings as a canopy to shade schools of small fish seeking shelter in the shade, and then catching its meal!

Reddish Egret – North Beach
Roseate Spoonbill, Bottlenose Dolphin strand feeding – North Beach

Roseate Spoonbills and dolphins strand feeding are always two amazing sights on Seabrook. But it’s rare to see both together! Ed first spotted four Spoonbills at the far end of the North Beach lagoon. Next came the dolphins, strand feeding first at the point and then swimming to far end of the lagoon right in front of the Spoonbills. Ed was a good distance away, but was ready with his camera anticipating a strand feed. Then it happened! Roseate Spoonbills and dolphins strand feeding in the same frame!

American Oystercatcher – North Beach

On Sep 24 we had a high count of 73 American Oystercatchers! What a thrill to see so many together. Marbled Godwits were present, often on the edge of the larger tide pools, probing the sand with their long bills. Colorful Ruddy Turnstones roamed the shore. Black-bellied Plovers and Wilson’s Plovers hung out near the end of the inlet. Black Skimmers were abundant, often in the hundreds and always fun to see skimming the water’s edge.

Black Skimmer and Piping Plovers – North Beach

Piping Plovers are here to “winter” – some staying for the season, others just stopping by as they head farther south. Then next spring they’ll return north to breed. Here’s a cool coincidence. Ed and I spotted these two banded PIPL on the same day last fall on Nov 9 – orange flag Great Lakes breeding region, and black flag 2K Atlantic Canada region. A birder colleague spotted these same two PIPL on Sep 9 on North Beach! So they’ve been seen together twice on the same day at Seabrook – last fall and this summer!

So maybe these two have decided again that Seabrook is a great place to spend the winter! These year to year “resightings” show how well our Critical Habitat is developing for Piping Plovers and other shorebirds.

2K breeds at Prince Edward Island, Canada. Here’s their Facebook post about his whereabouts south from the info we reported. The researchers are very happy that he’s doing well at Seabrook! Click on this link:

https://www.facebook.com/islandnaturetrust/posts/2590419404352616?comment_id=2596419787085911¬if_id=1569514538465736¬if_t=feed_comment

Please give our Piping Plover guests space to feed and rest. Remember, they’re Federal Endangered (Great Lakes Region) and Federal Threatened (Atlantic US & Canada Region).

Royal Tern and Snowy Egret – North Beach

Osprey prowled the beach looking for fish, often coming up with a good catch. Once, we witnessed an eagle stealing a fish, mid-air, from the Osprey. I have literally seen the eagle in pursuit, making the Osprey drop the fish and the eagle catching it in mid-air! Terns were abundant, with Royal in the greatest numbers. Caspian Terns with their large red bills and grating calls stood out. Sandwich, Common, Least and Forster’s Terns were in the mix.

It’s always a thrill to see the Black Terns as they migrate through, often speckled and mottled, changing from the black summer plumage. Gull-billed Terns patrolled the dry sand of the “highway” with their plunge-dives mid-air for crabs and insects, never diving in water.

Gull-billed Tern – North Beach

We had several walks on the beach this summer, one SIB walk that had over 25 birders led by Arch McCallum. Thanks to Mark Andrews for bringing wine, a very nice touch for the evening bird walk! Ed and I also hosted a Carolina Bird Club walk for many folks from SC and NC who marveled at our wonderful beach with it’s bounty of shorebirds. So many great spots to bird on Seabrook! The closing picture is of three beautiful young Tricolored Herons on the platform at Palmetto Lake…always fun to see a species where the juvenile is even brighter than the adult. Good birding to all!

Article by Aija & Ed Konrad, photos by Ed Konrad

SIB Learning Together – North Beach
Juvenile Tricolored Heron – Palmetto Lake

Sign up for SIB’s Project Feederwatch Seminar

Sign up today to attend SIB’s Project Feederwatch Seminar

Date: Tuesday October 15, 2019 4:30 – 5:30 pm
Title: Project FeederWatch Seminar
Location: Eagles Nest Studio, Lake House
Max: 15
Cost: Free; $5 donation for non-members

Become a Citizen Scientist by Watching the Birds in your Backyard!

Do you enjoy watching the birds in your backyard? Whether you have feeders or not, you should consider becoming a citizen scientist by joining Project FeederWatch this winter.

What is Project FeederWatch?

Project FeederWatch lets you become the biologist of your own backyard. You identify the birds in your backyard or at your feeders and submit your observations to the Cornell Lab. You can count every week between November—April, or you can count only once all season—the time you spend is up to you! The easy online data entry lets you immediately see all of your counts and view colorful summaries and graphs. Anyone interested in birds can participate; you don’t have to be an expert. All you need is a comfortable chair, a window, and an interest in the birds in your neighborhood.

How do I participate?

Once you sign up you can immediately start collecting data at your feeders. Read the online instructions and use the printable tally sheets to collect your counts. In the meantime, you will be sent a research kit in the mail with your unique ID number; once you have your ID number you can enter your counts online. Kits take a few weeks to arrive, but don’t worry—it will be there soon, and you don’t need it to start collecting data.

What do I get when I register?

The cost to participate is $18 and you will receive:

  • FeederWatch Handbook & Instructions
  • Full-color poster of common feeder birds
  • Bird-Watching Days Calendar
  • The Project FeederWatch annual report, Winter Bird Highlights
  • Digital access to Living Bird magazine

The first day to count birds for the 2019-2020 FeederWatch season is Saturday, November 9, 2019 and the season runs through April 3, 2020. There are already several SIB members who have joined Project Feederwatch for this winter season. Let us know if you already are signed up! We hope more members will consider joining!

If you would like to learn more about Project FeederWatch, SIB is hosting a seminar to explain the program and provide support to our members on Tuesday, October 15, from 4:30 – 5:30 pm. The seminar will be held at the Lake House in the Eagle’s Nest room.

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 register no later than Sunday, October 13, 2019. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Monday, October 14, 2019.

In the meantime, let us know if you have any questions and go to the Project FeederWatch website to learn more or join: https://feederwatch.org/

Raising Eastern Bluebirds on Seabrook Island

As previously reported in The Seabrooker, October 2019

Most of your drives around our island in the summer will turn up a few Eastern Bluebirds sitting on a fence post or perched atop a nest box. They call out in a short, wavering voice and abruptly drop to the ground after an insect. Marvelous birds to capture in your binoculars or camera lens, male Eastern Bluebirds are a brilliant royal blue on the back and head, and warm red-brown on the breast. Blue tinges in the wings and tail give the grayer females an elegant look.

Early last spring there were people watching for signs that the Eastern Bluebirds were beginning to nest. The moment in March that Melanie Jerome, the director of Seabrook Island’s Bluebird Society, got the word, she alerted her team that it was time to start checking the 74 bluebird boxes on 4 “Bluebird trails” around the island.

Many Seabrook Islanders and guests have noticed nest boxes around the island and especially on the golf course. There are boxes on the front and back nine of the Crooked Oaks course and the front nine of Ocean Winds. The other boxes are around the Lake House. The Seabrook Island Birders Bluebird Society is a sub group of the Seabrook Island Birders. Since 2014 this group has monitored all the boxes once a week from early spring until late summer once nesting begins and until the last baby bird has fledged. Statistics are kept on everything that happens in the bird box. Noted is the species of bird nesting, number of eggs, number of nestlings, and number of birds that fledge. Also noted is any predators, from ants and wasps to snakes and raccoons, that invade the box.

The SI Golf Club staff have been great partners in this endeavor. Not only do they allow the boxes to be on the courses and let the teams borrow golf carts to travel to the boxes that line the fairways, but this year they paid for and installed baffles for all the boxes on the golf course. This dramatically reduced the number of snake predations.

So, armed with a bucket of supplies, map of bird box locations, and a binder with statistics sheets for each box the team goes to every bird box in their area hoping to find activity. This sounds like a mundane task, and it’s not crocodile hunting, but it does have its challenges. You quickly learn to wear boots because many of the houses are near ponds or in high weeds. Once an Eastern Bluebird or Carolina Chickadee flies out of the house and straight for your head there is no chance that you will ever again approach the box any way but from the back or side. And, it is always wise to open the box with a gloved hand in the event there is a snake, mice, or insects in the box. Additionally, a long stick or golf club is nice to have to flush snakes or alligators or shoo away Wild Turkeys. With that being said, no harm has ever come to wildlife or monitors with the exception of wasps and ants.

The monitor teams that go out in early spring have a couple weeks of checking empty boxes, but once the first nest is found activity ramps up. It’s a huge deal for the entire group when the first eggs are found or the first hatchlings get counted. And, once the hatchlings become fluffy with feathers, you know they are ready to fledge and will probably not be there the next week. As a monitor you are only responsible for 8 weeks and, even though this task is time spent out of your week, it is tough to turn in your bucket and binder to relinquish your babies over to another team.

At the end of the summer, Melanie takes all the data from the sheets and compiles it into a report that she shares with the SI Birders, but also forwards to the SI Golf Club, the SI Environmental Committee, and the South Carolina Bluebird Society. This information compelled the group to install the baffles on the poles and could also suggest that boxes might need to be relocated, repaired or replaced. The data also shows population trends.

If you are interested in seeing our statistics for this year, interested in the Seabrook Island Bluebird Society or just birding in general, check out our website at seabrookislandbirders.org. No prior experience is necessary to join either group, just a love of birds and nature.

Cool Facts …

  • The male Eastern Bluebird displays at his nest cavity to attract a female. He brings nesting material to the hole, goes in and out, and waves his wings while perched above. This is pretty much his contribution to nest building.
  • Eastern Bluebirds typically have more than one successful brood per year. Eggs are blue or in rare cases, white. Young produced in early nests leave, but young from later nests winter with their parents.
  • Eastern Bluebirds occur across eastern North America and south as far as Nicaragua. Birds living farther north and in the west of the range tend to lay more eggs than eastern and southern birds.
  • Eastern Bluebirds eat mostly insects, wild fruit and berries. Occasionally they been observed capturing and eating larger prey such as lizards and tree frogs.
  • The oldest recorded Eastern Bluebird was at least 10 years, 6 months old. Banded in New York in May 1989 and was found dead in SC November 1999.

Submitted by: Melanie Jerome and Joleen Ardaiolo

Backyard Birding on Seabrook Island

Approximately 50 backyard bird enthusiasts gathered together for a fun and informative event on September 25th. The “Backyard Birding on Seabrook Island” program was crafted and presented by Judy Morr and Nancy Brown to encourage all Seabrookers to take advantage of the wonderful habitats that can be seen from our windows, porches, or decks.

The presentation began with information on how to make our backyards bird friendly using different feeders and the types of bird food that work best in our area. In addition, how to keep feeders clean, out of reach of other wildlife, and ideas for providing water for the birds were also discussed.

Following was a backyard bird slide show featuring photographs taken on Seabrook Island by SIB members. The group was asked to participate by identifying the birds in the photos after which Judy and Nancy described and added interesting facts about each species.

The program wrapped up with information on Project Feeder Watch, a citizen scientist program, and the seminar that is available on October 15th for anyone interested in participating. Information on this seminar and other Seabrook Island Birders’ events is available on SIB’s website at seabrookislandbirders.org .

Join SIB to Bird Freshfields

Register Now

Sunday October 6, 2019 7:30 am – 10:00 am
Exploring Freshfields
Location: Fields behind Freshfields Village. Meet at Freshfields parking near the Station and car pool as needed.
Max: 10

Kiawah Island naturalist Jake Zadik will leading us on a walk in the fields and ponds near Freshfields Village. This event will have 1 – 2 miles of walking over uneven terrain. The environment may include the “parking” field, produce fields and borders of lake behind Andell Inn. The varied environment could provide sitings of species not normally seen on Seabrook Island.

Bring sun block, bug spray, a hat, water and binoculars.

If you are not yet a 2019 SIB member, you may come as a guest for an additional $5 or first become a member by following the instructions on our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/.

Once you are a member, please register no later than Friday October 4, 2019. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Satuday October 5th.

Bird Fest 2019

If you are looking for a fun birding activity, you might want to consider going to Bird Fest 2019 in Monks Corner next Saturday, October 5, 2019. And if you’d like to car pool with other Seabrook Island residents, click here. See below for more details.

Date: Saturday October 5, 2019
Time: 9 am – 3 pm
Program Fee: $5 includes park admission
Pre-registration: None
Meeting Place: Learning Center, Old Santee Canal Park,
900 Stony Landing Road, Monks Corner, SC
Contact: Adam Bedard (843-899-5200)

This festival is a celebration of our feathered friends! Festival will include organizations such as Gryphon Den, Fish Eagle Tours, Sewee Visitor and Environmental Education Center, Nature Muse Imagery, Audubon South Carolina, Edisto River Adventures, Francis Marion National Forest, Coastal Expeditions, Charleston County Parks and Rec, Colonial Dorchester State Park, Artist Julie Glass, SCDNR Red Cockaded Woodpecker Program, South Carolina Bobwhite Initiative, Carolina Bird Club, Real Art, South Carolina Forestry Commission, South Carolina Waterfowl Association, Ducks Unlimited, and Santee Cooper.

Food will be available for purchase from the Miracles Tasty Express Food Truck and Live Entertainment by the Charleston Hot Shots. Special Presentations will include a guided bird walk by Audubon, A creatures of the night presentation by Gryphon Den, a photography class by Nature Muse Imagery, A presentation on “Purple Haze” a documentary on Purple Martins, and so much more!