A Rare Duck & Special Piping Plover – SI in December!

We had a fun week of December birding all around Seabrook! On Jenkins Point we were greeted by 2 Roseate Spoonbills, the number has since grown to 5. Nice to see a flash of pink in the winter landscape. Black-crowned Night Heron numbers are growing, at least 15 squawking their way between the 2 ponds on Jenkins Point Rd. Hooded Mergansers floated on the first pond, working in tandem with a Tricolored Heron and a Snowy Egret to stir up a meal on the far shore!

At the water treatment area, we found a rare (on EBird) Long-tailed Duck. The first night I saw two, but only one seems to remain. This is a rarity for the Charleston area, so very exciting to see! I have had one previous sighting on Seabrook for the CBC, out on the old inlet. Bufflehead numbers were increasing with about 35 one evening!

On North Beach, Marbled Godwits were seen every day, working the large tide pool near the bend, along with Black-bellied Plovers and Ruddy Turnstones. Semipalmated Plover and Dunlin numbers were in the hundreds. A nice surprise was 12 Red Knots, one with a band!

Ed and I did our usual beach prowls for wintering Piping Plovers. On a very foggy day we spotted 4 plovers. But Ed’s usually great photos were a foggy mess. One PIPL had an orange band, with maybe a gray band too? We sent photos to our friend, Alice Van Zoeren, Great Lakes PIPL Conservation Team in MI. Alice replied, “could the band be purple, is there a number?” And if yes, it could be “very exciting!” Purple? Exciting? We’ve never seen a PIPL with a purple band in all our years of looking! We were back out the next day, a beautiful morning, and spotted 8 PIPL. Then there it was in the middle of the beach – our banded “purple” with the number 31!

Here is Alice’s info on this PIPL: “You’ve proved it! This is the chick, we named “Little V”, from our Point Betsie MI nest. It’s the only one that fledged from this new 2019 nesting area. It’s a very busy and narrow beach just south of the Point Betsie Lighthouse. You can see us banding it on this Chicago Tribune video! https://www.chicagotribune.com/ed257930-fef2-4c7f-8e72-3450…

“Some of this video is of us catching and banding another brood, but this chick is the one in my hand, and running off while Steph chants “survive, survive”. Guess it worked.”

Be sure to watch the above video link from Alice – highlight the link and copy to your browser, turn on the audio when video loads. What a special story about our endangered little winter guests, and the challenges they face! What a special visitor to Seabrook Island!

Other banded Piping Plovers we’ve seen are returning winter guests at Seabrook. Black Flag 2K from Prince Edward Island, Canada, has been spotted now Sep and Dec 2019, and Nov 2018. SCDNR also spotted 2K on Devaux Bank in October. And last month we resighted this Great Lakes banded PIPL for the fourth time – Oct, Sep and Mar 2019, and Nov 2018.

These sightings and stories highlight the struggle these tiny Piping Plovers face to survive. Remember, PIPL that breed in Atlantic US and Canada regions are Federally Threatened, Great Lakes region are Federally Endangered with only 71 breeding pairs remaining. They’re with us for nine months a year, as wintering guests, or stopping by as they head to/return from beaches farther south. Our critical habitat is thriving, and we’ve been regularly seeing four to eight PIPL on any given day. Usually around the large tidal pool in the critical habitat – along the shore or resting on the beach. But they can be anywhere along the shore, so please give them space to feed and rest!

Article by Aija and Ed Konrad, Photos by Ed Konrad

SIB’s Bird Safari at Kiawah River

On Friday, November 22, 2019, 17 members (including three new members!) joined us for a morning of birding at Kiawah River development. It was a beautiful morning and the birds were plentiful in the various rivers, ponds, marshes and forests.

Kiawah River is truly a special place with 2,000 acres of land in the early stages of development.

We saw 36 species during our travels, including 120 Hood Mergansers! Thanks to our photographers of the day, Patti Romano & Mary Van Deusen.

120 Hooded Merganser — Saw in 3 locations on the property. 100 seen and counted in North Pond
3 Wild Turkey
4 Pied-billed Grebe
13 Common Gallinule
25 Dunlin
8 Willet
4 Laughing Gull
17 Wood Stork
9 Anhinga
82 Double-crested Cormorant
7 Brown Pelican
11 Great Blue Heron
25 Great Egret
4 Snowy Egret
4 Little Blue Heron
3 Tricolored Heron
5 White Ibis
8 Roseate Spoonbill
4 Black Vulture
6 Turkey Vulture
1 Osprey
1 Northern Harrier
1 Cooper’s Hawk
3 Bald Eagle
1 Red-shouldered Hawk
5 Belted Kingfisher
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
2 American Kestrel
5 American Crow
11 Tree Swallow
1 Carolina Wren
1 Northern Mockingbird
5 Eastern Bluebird
1 Chipping Sparrow
1 Palm Warbler
2 Pine Warbler

Number of Taxa: 36

It’s Not Too Late – Join Project FeederWatch

Project FeederWatch

A new season of the Project FeederWatch citizen-science project has just launched and you can still get in on the counting action to help scientists understand trends at feeders across the continent. FeederWatch participants count their feeder birds on two days per week that they choose (or as often as they can) between November and early April. Thousands of participants in the U.S. and Canada have been doing the count for 33 years and have amassed a tremendous database of observations that scientists use to track changes in bird populations over time. It’s one of the simple things you can do to help birdscount them!

Learn how to join Project FeederWatch or contact us at SeabrookIslandBirders@gmail.com

Bird Games to Share

During the recent Seabrook Island Birder’s Game Night, we shared three games that we thought all of you might enjoy to test your bird knowledge!

In the first game called “Bill Me,” you have to combine two words to make the name of a bird. Next, you have to match each of the birds with the appropriate bill shape.

The second handout has two games, the first is called “Fake Names,” and it lists fifteen bird names, of which eight are not real birds. The final game is a list of five statements, and you need to determine if they are True or False.

As the holiday season approaches, we hope you will print out these games and test your friends and family’s knowledge! To view the answers, visit SIB’s “Bird Games & Puzzles” page where you will find not only the two puzzles and answers discussed above, but an additional two puzzles. Don’t cheat and look at the answers before you try each of the puzzles!

SIB’s Photos from Bear Island & Donnelly WMA’s

Eastern Meadowlark – Bear Island – Charley Moore

On Saturday, October 26, eleven members of SIB traveled to Bear Island & Donnelly WMA’s for our annual fall trip. As you may know, Bear Island is closed from November 1 until the beginning of February to allow hunters access. We arrived in time for sunrise and spent seven hours birding! We even saw a couple mammals (white-tailed deer & nine-banded armadillo) and reptiles (alligators & eastern diamondback rattlesnake).

In total we saw 60 species of birds (including Rock Pigeons on the way home!) It may not have been our highest count of bird species, but it sure was a beautiful (but buggy!) fall day!

We hope you will enjoy the photos our members took during the trip and the complete list of birds by clicking on the “more” button.

Continue reading “SIB’s Photos from Bear Island & Donnelly WMA’s”

**JUST ANNOUNCED** “The Bird Crisis” – Live Broadcast Event TONIGHT from The Cornell Lab

According to research published online in September by the journal Science, wild bird populations in the continental U.S. and Canada have declined by almost 30% since 1970. The study quantifies for the first time the total decline in bird populations in the continental U.S. and Canada, a loss of 2.9 billion breeding adult birds—with devastating losses among birds in every biome. 

Join Ken Rosenberg, who leads joint research initiatives by the Cornell Lab and American Bird Conservancy, to learn why these study results transcend the world of birds. 

Live Broadcast on November 4th, 7:30pm Eastern

To view this event, a free account will need to be created and viewers will need to be logged in to that account.

This event will be archived, and can be viewed any time after the broadcast date.

The Cornell Lab hosts seminars throughout the year, including our long-running Monday Night Seminar series, a tradition established decades ago by Lab founder Dr. Arthur Allen. Speakers include Cornell Lab staff, book authors, and distinguished scientists from around the world. Archived seminars can be viewed here. 

Join SIB for October Big Day

Register Now

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.