Beyond Our Backyard-Fort Lamar Preserve

Monday, October 4,2021
Location: Meet at SI Real Estate Office to Car Pool: 6:30 am
Meet at Fort Lamar: 7:15am (Cathy Miller to meet everyone there)
Max: 12
Cost: free to members, $5 per guest


Cathy Miller will lead the Seabrook Island birders to a James Island Birding hotspot, Fort Lamar Heritage Preserve, for a trip targeting fall migrants Monday, October 4. Fort Lamar is a small SC Department of Natural Resources preserve that was the location of one of the most significant battles of the Civil War, the Battle of Seccessionville. This site is highly favored by Fall migrants so be prepared for warbler neck. Some advance preparation in the form of neck stretches and review of Fall plumage of warblers is recommended as all eyes are needed when these birds bounce around the canopy above us. Some species that have been seen here during the months of September and October include: Red-eyed vireo, Yellow Warbler, American Redstart, Black-and-white warbler, Cape May Warbler, Black-throated Blue Warbler, Magnolia Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, Ovenbird, Blackburnian Warbler, Bay-breasted Warbler, Veery, Warbling Vireo, Baltimore Oriole, Eastern Wood-Pewee, Swainson’s Thrush, Gray-cheeked Thrush. Nothing is guaranteed, of course. But this spot usually reveals its treasures to those who are patient and observant. The eBird list of previous sightings goes on and on.

For those wishing to carpool, we will meet at 6:30 am at Seabrook Island Real Estate. Cathy Miller will meet us at Fort Lamar at 7:15 am. Be sure to bring binoculars, camera, bird guide, hats, sunscreen, water, and snacks. We ask that all participants wear a mask when unable to social distance if they are not vaccinated. Please be aware that there are no facilities on site and you may want to plan a restroom stop at one of the Harris Teeters (Maybank & Folly Roads or Oak Point & Folly Roads) en route to the preserve.

If you are not yet a 2021 SIB member, you must first become a member for only $10 by following the instructions on our website: You may bring the form and your dues to the event. Or you may pay the Guest Fee of $5.

Once you are a member, please register no later than Saturday, October 2,2021. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter the day prior the event. If you need to cancel, please let us know so we can invite people on the waitlist to attend.

Loons of Mount Desert Island, Maine

Common Loon and chick, taken by Nancy Brown, Maine, summer of 2014

For me, summer normally means traveling to Maine to see family, friends and nature! Growing up, one of my most favorite birds to hear and see was the Common Loon. The sound of a Common Loon can instantly transport me to a lake in Maine. Although I won’t be visiting Maine this summer, I surely enjoyed this video, created by the Laman Family during the pandemic summer of 2020 and published by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, about Common Loon families of Mount Desert Island, Maine.

Experience a loon hatchling take to the water for the first time (@1:55), an adult male yodel (@2:35) and loon parents feeding their young (@5:23). While I won’t see the Common Loon this summer, I look forward to our winter here on Seabrook Island, SC, where I can often see them in the ocean just off the shore of our beach.

Learn more about the Common Loon here:

Submitted by: Nancy Brown

Birding the World with SIB Members: South Pacific to New Zealand & Australia

Many of us love to travel, and when we do, we often enjoy the birds and wildlife of far away places.  Flo Foley and Nancy Brown spent six weeks traveling from Tahiti to New Zealand and Australia.  In this blog, they will share some of their photos and experiences traveling the world “down under.”

If you have taken a trip and enjoyed doing a bit of bird watching, please send us an email as we’d love to share your story and photos!  Thanks!

Laughing Kookaburra

We left the U.S on November 13, 2018 for a 41 day adventure to the Southern Hemisphere. Besides learning about the natural and cultural histories and experiencing new foods, we looked forward to the new birds we would hear and see along the journey! We started with a world bird life list of 718 birds, mostly North American with some European and African birds from our previous trips to those continents. The question would be, how many species could we see while traveling two weeks on a cruise followed by a three week land tour?

In preparation, I did some research using to match up the locations we’d be visiting to hot spots and bird sightings in those areas. Next, I temporarily upgraded an app I use called BirdsEye to the World Edition ($4.99/mo) so our phones would have a world bird identification guide and access to live data from eBird. Finally, I reviewed our daily itinerary to find free time when we could hire private bird guides to best use our time to see the most birds. I picked five locations and through the wonderful world of Google, was able to find and hire experienced bird guides.

When you start to observe birds anywhere in the world, you will start to notice there are similarities. Having even just basic knowledge of birds, the novice birder can begin to recognize the different families of birds: shorebirds, wading birds, birds of prey, kingfishers, parrots, hummingbirds, etc. At this point, you can start to make more specific observations and use the tools to determine which species are found in the location you are in.  We find taking a photograph of the bird is often the best answer when we are in the field and don’t know what it is. Then we can take the time to do the research without having to rely on our memory!

Continue reading “Birding the World with SIB Members: South Pacific to New Zealand & Australia”

Part II: Birding & Nature at the South Georgia Islands

Many of us love to travel, and when we do, we often enjoy the birds and wildlife of far away places.  We hope you saw and enjoyed Part I of Valerie and Mark Doane’s recent trip to the Southern Hemisphere, where it is spring during our fall.  Along with her narrative, she has included a blog site of many beautiful photos where you will see more examples of birds in love as we celebrate Valentine’s Day!

And if you have taken a trip and enjoyed doing a bit of bird watching, please send us an email as we’d love to share your story and photos!  Thanks!

King Penguins at Right Whale Bay – Valerie Doane

This is the second installment of photos from our October/November Antarctica trip.  These were taken in the South Georgia Islands at various bays and harbors.  Featured are: King Penguins, The Oakum Boys, South-Georgia Shags, Giant Petrels, Grey-headed Albatross, Light-Mantled Albatross, Brown Skuas, Elephant Seals, Fur Seals and a small number of other birds. The entire 14-day expedition we sighted 77 different bird species and 18 different mammal species.

Click this link to view but first read a few factoids below about the Kings and Elephant Seals.

Continue reading “Part II: Birding & Nature at the South Georgia Islands”

Tales of a Big Year…the Journey to 577

1 Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park, CO – Ed Konrad

On January 30, SIB members Aija and Ed Konrad amazed the 68 attendees for our first evening event of 2019 with their “Tales of a Big Year … the Journey to 577.” In 2018, Aija took the challenge to do a United States Big Year, finding 577 bird species for the year. She finished #14 in the lower 48 states among 77,000 US eBirders, and #25 in the US overall!

A Big Year is a personal challenge or an informal competition among birders, who attempt to identify as many species as possible by sight or sound, within a single calendar year, and within a specific geographic area. In doing the Big Year, Aija and Ed took 10 trips across the US, were away 110 days, traveled through 36 states, visited 35 National Parks and NWRs, drove 30,000 miles, flew 14,000 miles, walked countless 5 plus mile days, and used half a million hotel points.

Screen Shot 2019-02-03 at 9.36.35 AM
Here’s the map of Aija and Ed’s travel for Aija’s Big Year…

Not every birder has the luxury of their own personal photographer to document their Big Year, so the evening was filled with Ed’s great pictures of birds and the USA’s beautiful National Parks. The program kicked off with a fast-paced musical slide show displaying over 500 birds of Aija’s 577 year birds that Ed photographed.

Aija and Ed then shared stories through their photos of how they crisscrossed the US, their non-stop schedule of birding from dawn to dusk, favorite birds, hikes, experiences, and even some challenges and a disagreement or two! They led us through a colorful and animated tour though their travels to bird in Texas, Nebraska, Colorado, Utah, Chicago and Ohio, Arizona, California, Washington, Florida, South and North Carolina, Maryland, New Jersey, and Maine.

The SIB attendees enjoyed an interesting and fun evening. We all now know what it takes to do a US Big Year. We’re proud that a SIB member accomplished being in last year’s US Top 25 eBirders! Congratulations Aija and Ed!

Part I: Birding the Falkland Islands

Many of us love to travel, and when we do, we often enjoy the birds and wildlife of far away places. As you will learn below, Valerie and Mark Doane recently took a trip to a place where it is spring during our fall. Along with her narrative, she has included a blog site of many beautiful photos! We hope our SIB members enjoy taking the first part of the trip with Valerie to see “love is in the air”! Keep watch for Part II which will be published soon!

And if you have taken a trip and enjoyed doing a bit of bird watching, please send us an email as we’d love to share your story and photos!  Thanks!

Rockhopper Penguins at Settlement Rookery-Devil’s Nose Colony Falkland Islands – Valerie Doane

In October/November of last year, Mark and I traveled with National Geographic/Lindblad on yet another expedition to the Antarctica region.  This time our expedition led us to the Falkland Islands and South Georgia Islands both of which are in the Antarctic convergence but not quite 60 degrees south.

It was another trip of a lifetime with many discoveries and memories to savor. We’d like to share some of our memories with you in this first installment of my photos taken in the Falkland Islands.

Continue reading “Part I: Birding the Falkland Islands”

Close Encounters of the SIB Kind

Article by Aija Konrad, photos by Ed Konrad

Ed and I just returned from a trip to the great state of Washington as part of our Big Year! It was our first trip out to the state and we fell in love with all it’s beauty. Snow capped mountains, fall colors, and water, water, everywhere….how incredible were all the bays and sounds!

1 Semiahmoo Spit WA (Ed Konrad)

We spent 3 of our days at the Semiahmoo Spit, near Blaine, up by the Canada border. I reached out to a dear friend of SIB, David Gardner, who was formerly at Camp St. Christopher. David is now the Adult and Family Programs Manager at the North Cascades Institute. We met up for a great day of birding. I wanted to bird Pt. Roberts Lighthouse, which required us to go into Canada and dip back down to the spit in US waters. It turned out to be David’s first trip to Canada, however brief! (which cannot be said for our return to the US, that took over 30 min at border control…LOL)

2 Aija and David at Pt Roberts (Ed Konrad)

At Pt Roberts we had some great birding with some good seabirds, Pacific and Common Loons, Common Murres, Horned and Red-necked Grebes, White-winged and Surf Scoters, Pigeon Guillemot. One of our target species was the Northern Shrike, which we dipped on, but both found it independently in the next few days. We then returned to the Semiahmoo Spit where we had a wealth of White-winged and Surf Scoters and Harlequin Ducks. It was a great day and fun to reconnect with David. I know that SIB misses David and his love and enthusiasm for birding.

Our 2018 US Big Year adventure continues to go well! I am up to 566 species for the US this year, 66 more than I ever expected to get. We have traveled through 31 states, visited 14 National Parks, driven 25,000 miles, flown many more miles. And we’ve walked and walked a countless number of miles! We’ve been gone from home for 95 days so far this year, with trips to TX, CO/NE, IL/OH, AZ, CO/UT, FL, CA, and WA. Ed has been really enjoying helping me spot, and of course photographing the birds and incredible scenery. It’s been like a giant scavenger hunt across the US, and we are having more fun than we ever expected to have at this point in our lives. Bird on Seabrook!
Here’ the URL for Ed’s Flickr site which chronicles our Big Year.

Travel: Birds of Chilean Patagonia

In late February, six Seabrookers (Jack and Donna Miller, Ted and Janet Fine, Jerry and Diana Cohen) toured across Patagonia, Chile for two weeks, from Puerto Veras in the North to Punta Arenas in the South. We thought the Seabrook Island Birders might be interested in seeing pictures of some species we observed which are not seen in North America. The best birding took place on an excursion to the island of Chiloe, in the Pacific Ocean, and in and around Torres del Paine National Park in the South.

JC 1

This picture of the Upland or Magellan Goose was taken by our tour guide, Laura Pomilio.



My favorites were the Imperial Cormorants, also called Imperial Shags, on the beach in Punta Arenas (see photos below). They look and waddle like miniature penguins, grouped in large colonies on the beach, but are much larger and more active than the cormorants we see on Seabrook. Some of their colonies can be quite large, as seen on the pier below.

JC 4

These Black-Necked Swans were photographed by Janet Fine on the island of Chiloe, but we also saw quite a few of them on the southern part of Patagonia around Puerto Natales. They are the largest waterfowl in South America, averaging 8-15 lbs.


JC 5


This Black-faced Ibis was taken by Diana on a sheep ranch near Punta Arenas. They reside in flocks in the grasslands of the sheep ranch we visited.


We had an opportunity to take a small boat on the Island of Chiloe to observe both Humboldt and Magellan Penguins sunning and feeding on the rocks on the islands. These rock islands are the only place where both Humboldt and Magellan Penguins cohabit-ate, which is a big deal considering that Humboldt Penguins are endangered.  An interesting aside is that the penguins actually roost in the hills above the rocks, and then waddle down paths to the rocks to fish and sun. We caught glimpses of them coming down from the hills, but photos were a challenge, as we were on a small boat rocking around in the waves. Here are some photos which Diana took. Notice how well the penguins blend into the rocks – great camouflage!

There were several species of water birds on Chiloe, including these below. How about some help from all you birders out there to identify them?


Article submitted by Jerry Cohen
Photo credit to Diana Cohen, Janet Fine and Laura Pomilio

If you have taken a trip and enjoyed doing a bit of bird watching, please send us an email as we’d love to share your story and photos!  Thanks!