Invitation to Upcoming Shorebird Presentation

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You are invited to the second of four shorebird Zoom talks being hosted by the Kiawah Island Shorebird Stewardship Program.  It will be on Wednesday, May 18 at 1:00 pm.  This is a wonderful opportunity to learn about the Least Tern.  Least Terns are tiny charismatic birds who are currently courting and nesting out in our critical nesting habitat on Kiawah’s east end.  

The presenter for this talk will be Nolan Schillerstrom of Audubon South Carolina.

See the description of the talk below along with the Zoom link.
And please share the invitation with anyone you know who loves birds!

NOTE:  This webinar will be recorded, so if you would like to watch it at a later time, please contact SIB for the recorded version.

Title:  The Sassy Seabird:  Least Tern

Description: Least Tern are an incredible nesting seabird in South Carolina.  They’re a focus of stewardship on Kiawah and throughout the state. Learn more about these spunky little seabirds and their nesting biology with Nolan Schillerstrom of Audubon South Carolina.  Audubon has worked for generations to nurture a legacy of stewardship among bird-lovers.  Also learn about how stewardship has helped these birds survive in SC and throughout the US.

Topic: The Sassy Seabird: Least Terns with Nolan Schillerstrom
Time: May 18, 2022 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Join Zoom Meeting
https://us02web.zoom.us/j/81381869486

Meeting ID: 813 8186 9486

Photo cred:  Pamela Cohen

Watch: “Busy Beaches After Red Knots:  Supporting Our Nesting Shorebirds”

Abby Sterling, PhD

The Kiawah Island Shorebird Stewardship Program, lead by Bette Popillo, is hosting an upcoming Zoom presentation on Tuesday May 10th at 5:30 pm and would like to invite all Seabrook Island Birder (SIB) members to watch a fabulous presenter, Abby Sterling.  For those of you who don’t know who Abby Sterling is, she is a shorebird biologist and is the director of the Georgia Bight Shorebird Conservation Initiative.

The title of Abby Sterling’s talk is: “Busy Beaches After Red Knots:  Supporting Our Nesting Shorebirds”

A brief description of her talk:  

As the last of our Red Knots and other Arctic nesting shorebirds depart at the end of May, the beaches can feel a bit empty.  But, tucked above the wrack line and in the dunes, drama continues to unfold.  Nesting Wilson’s Plovers and American Oystercatchers are overcoming a host of challenges to successfully incubate eggs and raise chicks.  These species are both of high conservation concern, and our actions can have a significant impact on their ability to raise their offspring.  Learn more about the secret lives of the beach nesting shorebirds that depend on our backyards, and simple steps that we can take to help them succeed.

When: May 10, 2022 05:30 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)

Where: https://us02web.zoom.us/j/86249136507

Or One tap mobile : 

    US: +13017158592,,86249136507#  or +13126266799,,86249136507#

Or Telephone:

    Dial(for higher quality, dial a number based on your current location):

        US: +1 301 715 8592  or +1 312 626 6799  or +1 929 205 6099  or +1 253 215 8782  or +1 346 248 7799  or +1 669 900 6833

Webinar ID: 862 4913 6507

***The presentation will also be recorded.***

Shorebird News from North Beach

April brings many shorebirds to Seabrook Island’s North Beach. Some are getting ready for long migrations and others are here to nest. That means that Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) Shorebird Stewards, while continuing to focus on educating beachgoers about Red Knots and assisting with Red Knot research, will now have another job protecting the birds that nest in the area posted by yellow SCDNR signs.

About 4000 Red Knots are now using the beaches of Seabrook Island and Kiawah to feed on Donax clams to bulk up for their journey to the Arctic to nest. Red Knots are listed as Federally Threatened and many research efforts are under way to measure Red Knot numbers and to identify habitats for protection. This last week, stewards from Seabrook Island and Kiawah assisted as biologists from SCDNR captured some of the knots roosting at Captain Sams Inlet. Most of the birds were banded with the usual lime green tags. A few were also fitted with satellite transmitters that will provide a much more complete picture of Red Knot migration than tracking devices used previously. These transmitters will also last longer than previous devices.

Another recent Red Knot research project was the first Coastal Coordinated Red Knot Count done in conjunction with Georgia DNR. A biologist flew in a helicopter to survey the Georgia islands and South Carolina up to Isle of Palms for flocks of Red Knots. At the same time, other biologists and stewards, like some from Seabrook Island, counted from the ground. Because Red Knots can easily travel from Seabrook Island to places like Harbor or Hunting Island in under an hour, they can also be double counted unless one can coordinate the count to get a snapshot of all the birds in essentially the same moment. The count will be repeated in May.

Please remember: When you walk along our shore and see Red Knots feeding in the surf, please “Share the Beach and Walk Around”.

Exciting news! U5 and his mate have again nested within the Yellow Nesting Signs! As you may remember from a series of Tidelines articles (https://tidelinesblog.com/2021/07/21/welcome-to-american-oystercatcher-chicks-dy-dz/ ), U5 and mate are long-time Captain Sams Inlet residents who successfully raised two chicks in the Nesting Area last year. Two weeks ago, Janet Thibault, SCDNR Coastal Wildlife biologist, posted the area and found two eggs in the oystercatcher nest. Unfortunately, last week, we saw gulls harass the oystercatchers and steal an egg! Afterwards, Janet confirmed that they only have one egg left to incubate. Disappointing news like this reminds us that North Beach can be a harsh environment. High winds and unusually high tides both erode the shoreline and bury nests in sand. Predators like crows and gulls steal eggs and chicks. The signs give the nesting American Oystercatchers, Wilson’s Plovers and Least Terns some protection from humans but please stay well back from the signs to give the birds the space they need to raise their chicks. If they nest like last year, some birds might have a nest right among the signs!

-Submitted by Mark Andrews, Co-chair SIB Shorebird Stewards. (All photos taken at a safe distance well-outside the signs with a long lens and then cropped significantly)

Seabrook Island Shorebird Steward Program

Seabrook Island Shorebird Stewards Return to the Beach!

Daily, starting on March 1, 2022, Seabrook Island beachgoers may see Shorebird Stewards like Seabrook Island resident Tim Finan on North Beach. Shorebird Stewards educate people about the various shorebirds that use the Seabrook Island Beaches. All shorebird species are in decline and need help. Shorebird Stewards explain why shorebirds use the Seabrook Island beach and why beachgoers should “Share the Beach- Give Them Space”.

The Seabrook Island Shorebird Steward program is looking for more volunteers. Starting in March until July, stewards spend 2 hour shifts on the beach. The schedule is flexible and a scheduling website makes it easy to find times to fit anyone’s schedule.

Stewards don’t have to be a skilled birder. During the training program, participants learn shorebird identification, how to use our optics, and how to be a good steward. The training consists of a 2-hour classroom session plus on-beach field training.

People interested in becoming a Shorebird Steward can register here (sib.wildlifepreservationservices.com). To prevent bots from invading the site, registration requires several steps. All new Stewards should attend an SCAudubon led training on February 19, 2022, starting at 9:00 AM in the Oystercatcher Community Room or watch a recording of the presentation. All Stewards new or returning, need to participate in one of the many scheduled field training dates (details to be provided to those who register). For more information or to join us for a North Beach bird walk, please contact: sibstewards@gmail.com.

Free Virtual Evening Event featuring SC-DNR Felicia Sanders

The public is invited to enjoy a zoom presentation by Felicia Sanders on “Hemispheric Flights of Migratory Shorebirds” on February 16, 2022, at 7pm. Felicia has been active in shorebird conservation and research for over thirty years. Her talk draws on her many years of banding and tracking shorebirds including her 5 trips to the Arctic. She will also focus on the technology that allows scientists to track the migrations of many shorebirds that stop to rest or refuel on Seabrook: Red Knots, Whimbrel, Dunlin and others. 

Register for SIB’s February Virtual Evening Program

Hemispheric Flights of Migratory Shorebirds

Everyone is Welcome!

Date: Wednesday, February 16, 2022
Program starts 7:00pm.
Location: Zoom Virtual Video
Fee: Free
Attendance: 500

Questions? Email us at: SeabrookIslandBirders@gmail.com

Each year millions of shorebirds migrate to Arctic breeding grounds from wintering sites in South & Central America and southern North America. SC beaches are important sites for these long-distance migratory birds. Many know the Red Knot’s journey – Arctic tundra to nest, southern South America for winter, AND a stop in SC to refuel. But what about Whimbrels, Dunlin, Sanderlings, and Semipalmated Plovers that also nest on the northern Arctic shores?

What are migration routes of Seabrook’s shorebirds? Where do the birds spend the rest of the year? How do banding, innovative tagging & tracking technology, and peoples’ reporting help identify birds’ exact movements and locations? Join us for Felicia Sanders’, SCDNR partner and SIB’s good friend, fascinating look at the diverse countries & habitats shorebirds encounter on their global journeys!

Felicia Sanders has been working 30 years on conservation efforts for a wide diversity of bird species. Felicia joined the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources in 2001, and leads South Carolina’s Seabird and Shorebird Projects. Her primary tasks are promoting conservation of important sites for nesting and migrating coastal birds, surveying seabirds and shorebirds, and partnering with universities to research life histories. She is a coauthor on numerous scientific publications, and has traveled to the Arctic 5 times to participate in shorebird research projects. Felicia went to graduate school at Clemson University, majoring in biology. Last year she was awarded the Biologist of the Year by the Southeastern Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies, whose members include 15 states, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Ask SIB: “Are Red Knots at North Beach?”

Fred Whittle recently sent a question to Seabrook Island Birds. He asked, “Are Red Knots at North Beach now?  Thought I saw them on Sunday afternoon.”  

Photo taken of Red Knots and other Shore & Seabirds by Mark Andrews on 12/28/21.  Notice the misty view, as there was a thick marine layer with visibility of only around 50m date day.

The quick answer is yes. Mark Andrews recently reported 300 birds at the end of North Beach. That leads people who like birds to a host of other questions. First and foremost, “Why are they here?” Instinct drives much bird behavior. The hard-wired drive to migrate makes birds leave the far north long before conditions become untenable for life. Some but not all of the eastern race of Red Knots, Calidris canutus rufa, migrate from the Central Canadian Arctic to Tierra del Fuego at the southern tip of South America. With studies being done by scientists and observations like birders on Seabrook Island, much has been learned about Red Knot migration habits and much more still needs to be discovered. Knots spend winter in four regions:

  1. Southern coast of S. America, mainly Tierra del Fuego
  2. Northern coast of S. America, mainly Maranhão
  3. Western Gulf of Mexico, mainly the Laguna Madre
  4. Southeast U.S./Caribbean, mainly FL to NC

Evolution created these four regions as ways to protect the populations. Each location offers advantages and disadvantages—e.g. long or short distance to travel low or high parasite exposure. Unfortunately, a evolutionary new risk has arisen in these ancestral wintering grounds—humans. Development along the migratory route and probably climate change stress the migrants. 

The work being done by SCDNR, University Of South Carolina’s Senner Lab, and our local birders strive to understand if the same birds each year hang around South Carolina or are they stopping here on their way to Florida or farther south. We do know that the numbers of Red Knots slowly increase as the season passes into spring. We do know that many of our birds spend time in Florida and when they arrive here, they may stay several weeks of even months before flying on to either New Jersey’s Delaware Bay or directly to the southern tip of the Hudson Bay.

In May, birds with flags indicating that they were banded in South America show up on Seabrook Island. They join up with the birds already here before they all depart sometime before Memorial Day.

For all these birds, the arc along the South Carolina coast provides a critically important stopping area where they can pack on the fat before tackling the long flight to the Arctic and the arduous task of raising the next generation.

When you see people out on the beach taking pictures, recognize that the photographers want far more than pretty picture, they want clear images of the tiny flags on the bird’s legs. Once scientists receive these flag codes, the scientists can start to build a better understanding of the migratory patterns of the Red Knots.

When you are on the beach, remember, “Share the beach – give them space!” If you have questions or are interested to learn more about the SIB Shorebird Steward team, please send and email to: sibstewards@gmail.com or complete this form.

Watch: Wintering Shorebirds of SC

A wonderful program was recently presented by Melissa Chaplin, US Fish and Wildlife Service Endangered Species Biologist, entitled “Wintering Shorebirds of South Carolina.” The talk is filled with fascinating information and details about many of the shorebird species seen on North Beach at this time of year. For a limited time only, Seabrook Island Birder (SIB) members are invited to watch.

We want to thank Bette Popillo of the Kiawah Island Shorebird Stewards for hosting this talk and  making it available to SIB members and our Shorebird Stewards.  As Bette likes to say, “After all, we share the same birds.”

Click the link below to view this recording:
https://us02web.zoom.us/rec/share/KqnzYZ-D_OobwZiML33m9AZFLZVii2NiNhdZ8JGs4sX9Glw0UR3vyFA3v5V8OQqs.6kSl8xkm-yeDgWIT

Passcode: Qb.%2hTb

This presentation will be accessible only until December 28, 2021. If you have questions or are interested to learn more about the SIB Shorebird Steward team, please send and email to: sibstewards@gmail.com.

Submitted by: SIB Shorebird Steward Program Core Team

  • Mark Andrews
  • Lesley Gore
  • Bob Mercer

SIB’s Article for the October The Seabrooker

In case you don’t receive it, or haven’t had a chance to read it yet, we hope you will enjoy The Seabrooker’s October 2021 SIB article. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) contributed a full page on the left side of the centerfold! The stories this month feature:

  • Why Birdwatching? You hear a lot about it, so what’s all the fuss about? If you aren’t a birder, you may just realize why becoming one can be an exciting new hobby after reading Aija Konrads article and viewing the photos by her husband Ed.
  • SIB’s Shorebird Steward Program including a QR code (this Quick Response code is a bar code which will open a webpage when a phone camera is focused on it.)

Thanks again to author Aija Konrad and photographer Ed Konrad for their contributions this month. Ed also serves as our graphic designer!

2021 SC Audubon’s Coastal Stewardship Report

2021 has been an exciting year for birds on Seabrook’s beaches!

  • We welcomed back 4000-6000 Red Knots
  • We have watched American Oystercatchers successfully raise 2 chicks
  • There was the big announcement of 20,000 Whimbrel roosting on Deveaux Bank
  • AND Seabrook Island Birders Shorebird Steward Program completed our first full year.

Our Shorebird Steward program is part of a network of steward organizations that protect shorebirds during their migration and monitor nesting sites all along the South Carolina coast.

Last week, South Carolina Audubon released their 2021 Coastal Stewardship report. The report compiles the experiences of stewards in 10 communities from Huntington Beach State Park in the north to Little Capers island in the south as they educated beachgoers and monitored nesting sites of Threatened and Endangered birds.

SC Audubon leads many of these sites and while our program, like Kiawah’s, is autonomous, we receive valuable training and advice from Nolan Schillerstrom, SC Audubon’s Coastal Program Associate and Alyssa Zebrowski, the Seasonal Coastal Stewardship Coordinator. Our other sponsors are SCDNR, USFWS, the Town of Seabrook and SIPOA. 

Please enjoy reading the report. If you are a Shorebird Steward here on Seabrook, appreciate how your efforts fit into the larger picture. If you aren’t a steward yet, please come join us next spring. Don’t worry if you can’t identify plovers from sanderlings- shorebirds are challenging and we all learn something every day. We’ll announce our goals and training for 2022 in February.

All shorebird & seabird populations are in decline and your help is urgently needed.

Submitted by Mark Andrews

Front cover of report, white background, black text written, Coastal Stewardship 2021 Report

SIB’s Articles for the September The Seabrooker

In case you don’t receive it, or haven’t had a chance to read it yet, we hope you will enjoy The Seabrooker’s September 2021 SIB articles. Seabrook Island Birders (SIB) contributed a full page on the left side of the centerfold! The stories this month feature:

  • On the Road Again! Ed & Aija Konrad share photos and stories of their two-week journey to New England.
  • They’re Back! An update on our wintering Piping Plovers.
  • All About Vultures! SIB’s Evening Program series returns with guest speaker Jen Tyrell from Audubon SC. Register Today!
  • SIB’s Shorebird Steward Program including a QR code (this Quick Response code is a bar code which will open a webpage when a phone camera is focused on it.)

Thanks again to author Aija Konrad and photographer Ed Konrad for their contributions this month. Ed also serves as our graphic designer!

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