Meet new and “old” friends while learning about the birds of our island and the Lowcountry by joining us on a bird walk. Walks are generally two hours in length with varying degrees of walking. This month, our “walks” include birding on the deck of Carol King for a “Backyard Birding” of Cap’n Sam’s Inlet. Next we have a walk around Palmetto Lake behind the Lake House and then the Horse Pastures in celebration of Earth Day (about 1 mile). Finally, we will use golf carts to travel on Ocean Winds Golf Course so it is accessible for all!
We welcome birders of all levels!
To learn more about each activity and to register, click on the links below:
SC DNR has reported seeing over 1000 Red Knots on Deveaux Bank, and the numbers are increasing as they migrate north. Ed and I recently spotted 300 Red Knots about 30 minutes after a high tide. They were feeding on the shore where it bends towards the end of North Beach, one of their favorite spots. A flock of knots was also on a sand bar. As the tide fell, they all moved to the sand bar. As we walked back, we spotted a smaller group of knots in a flock of Willets to the right of Boardwalk #1.
A few knots were beginning to turn reddish. Four had bands, two were readable, #512 and #1C1. In looking at our photos of banded Red Knots, we spotted 1C1 last February too! Per the website to report and track banded birds (bandedbirds.org), 1C1 has also been reported at Kiawah Island in 2012, and at Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet in 2015 and 2016.
Red Knot #512, spotted Mar 2018 – Ed Konrad
Red Knot #1C1, spotted Mar 2018 – Ed Konrad
Red Knot #1C1, spotted Feb 2017 – Ed Konrad
Red Knots have one of the longest migrations of any bird, 18,000 miles round trip from the tip of South America to the Arctic where they breed. From March to early May, Seabrook Island is an important stopping point for them to feed and rest on their long journey north to breed. Last year we had estimated 5000 Red Knots on North Beach at their peak in late April. Knot population on the East Coast has declined 85% since 1980, and they are “Federally Threatened” under the US Endangered Species Act.
Throughout the winter, we usually see Piping Plovers when birding on North Beach. They’re usually in small groups of two to five, feeding along the shore. Some are banded, and we report and send photos of these to biologists at the Virginia Tech Shorebird Program, and University of Minnesota Great Lakes Piping Plover Team, for their research.
We’ve had two recent banded Piping Plover sightings on North Beach that we reported. We learned that one was banded by researchers from State University of NY (SUNY) as a one-day old chick in June 2017, at North Brigantine Natural Area in New Jersey. Ed and I have spotted this Piping Plover twice: this February, and in August 2017 as was migrating south from the Atlantic area breeding grounds.
Banded Piping Plover #1, spotted Feb 2018 – Ed Konrad
Banded Piping Plover #1, spotted Aug 2017 – Ed Konrad
The second banded Piping Plover we’ve spotted three times: This February, and last November and February. Researchers tell us it was banded on Kiawah Island in 2012, and breeds on the coast of New Jersey. These little guys look to be making themselves right at home as they spend winters with us!
Banded Piping Plover #2, spotted Feb 2018 – Ed Konrad
Banded Piping Plover #2. spotted Feb 2017 – Ed Konrad
Piping Plovers breed at Great Lakes, Atlantic, and Great Plains areas from April to July. In late July they migrate to southern coasts and the Caribbean to winter until the next spring. Seabrook is an important wintering and migratory site, offering a quality foraging and roosting habitat important for adults to survive and return to their breeding sites. Populations and breeding habitats have drastically declined due to threats of development, people, dogs, predators, weather, and environment. Great Lakes area Piping Plovers are “Federally Endangered”, with only 76 breeding pairs recorded in 2017. Atlantic area Piping Plovers are “Federally and SC Threatened”.
So, look for, and please respect, these endangered and threatened birds that are our guests during their important migration and wintering on North Beach!
Remember our SIB March 28 event, “Where Have All the Shorebirds Gone?”, 7pm Registration & Social, program starts at 7:30pm. Live Oak Hall at the Lake House. Our guest speakers will be Melissa Chaplin, Endangered Species Biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, SC Field Office, and Janet Thibault, Wildlife Biologist with the South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources. If possible, please RSVP.
Ed and I will lead a SIB bird walk at North Beach to look for the Red Knots, Piping Plovers and other shorebirds on Thursday, March 29. We’ll meet in the Property Owners’ beach parking lot at 8:30am, about an hour after high tide. We’ll be walking to the inlet, and hopefully the knots will begin feeding as the tide falls. RSVP now!
REMINDER: To help us plan for the number of chairs, snacks and wine, please let us know you plan to attend by completing this easy registration form.
Event: Where Have All the Shorebirds Gone? Date: Wednesday March 28, 2018 Time: 7:00 pm Registration & Social; 7:30 pm Program Starts Location: Live Oak Hall, Lake House, Seabrook Island, SC Max: 140 Cost: FREE for members; $5 for guests Join SIB for $10 and the event is Free!
Each year, thousands of shorebirds enjoy the beaches of Seabrook Island to rest and refuel as they migrate through or to spend a season living and even nesting on our dunes. And each year, the number of birds is decreasing. SIB is pleased to present a panel of experts to discuss questions such as:
What birds do we find on our beaches and when?
Which birds are of particular concern?
Why are birds banded?
What type of bird surveys are conducted on our beach and why?
What are the signs we see on the beach and why are they changed throughout the year?
What can Seabrook Island Residents do to help?
Panel members will include:
Melissa Chaplin, Endangered Species Biologist with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, SC Field Office
Janet Thibault, Wildlife Biologist with the South Carolina Dept. of Natural Resources
Join SIB at the Lake House for another fun and informative evening. To set the stage for the panel discussion, Aija and Ed Konrad will lead a brief Shorebird Identification Slide Show of the birds found on Seabrook Island. Be sure to bring your questions about shorebirds too! The program will conclude with the drawing of raffle tickets with several great prizes! Be sure to bring cash to buy the raffle tickets: $2/ticket or $5/3 tickets.
David Gardner, Director of Environmental Education at St. Christopher and SIB Board member, has accepted a job in Washington state and will be leaving Seabrook effective this Friday March 23, 2018. David will be leading one last walk with SIB at Camp St. Christopher on Thursday morning and there is still room for a couple more people. The walk, one to two miles in distance, will be in search of spring migrants while exploring the lakes, lagoons, paths and slough.
Thursday March 22, 2018 8:00 – 11:00 am
Spring Migration @ St. Christopher Camp & Conference Center with David Gardner
Location: Meet at the Bus Parking Lot at St. Christopher
Cost $5 donation to St. Christopher Educational Outreach Program
David will truly be missed by all who have interacted with him, but especially those of us who have enjoyed birding with him since the creation of SIB less than three years ago. We will never be able to replace his special combination of enthusiasm, knowledge and his English accent that endeared him to us! Several of our members wanted to share a few stories about David so you too could learn what a special person he is and how we are sad to see him leave!
From Bob and Eileen Mercer:
David will be taking his talents to the North Cascade Institute (https://ncascades.org/) located in the North Cascades National Park in Washington State and is situated near the crest of the Cascade Mountains, a large lake and many square miles of wilderness. David’s enthusiasm and talents will serve him well. As a bonus, he will learn about a whole new ecology. He will need to get used to the higher altitudes and the exercise associated with a mountainous territory, as opposed to the coastal plain. One of the wonders of the area is that David will be able to get his coastal fix with a drive similar to going to Bear Island and will be able to visit the desert just by going over the ridge.
Unlike St. Christopher, the North Cascade Institute offers programming for children, a year-long graduate level study program, and a significant amount of adult programming. Anyone can sign up for any of the many adventures. Check out their offerings at https://ncascades.org/ and maybe plan a visit to see David (if nothing else, visit the website to see the stunning facility and views he will be forced to endure). Eileen and I spent 4 days there living in their luxurious dorms and enjoying the gourmet food provided by a professional chef and can highly recommend a visit. We wish David lots of wonderful experiences and a whole host of life birds!
From George Haskings:
One has to wonder a bit about the mind workings of a person who would voluntarily give up a seemingly good job (bird watching and working with kids in an outdoor environment) on Seabrook Island in order to take a position in the State of Washington where it likely rains many more days a year than the sun shines. When I inquired of him on that matter, his
reply was “I’m from England.”
As I contemplated that, I recollected that most of my ancestors came from England and Scotland; that I grew up in New England; and (when seeking employment) I went to Rochester, NY, which has recorded snow every month except August. You don’t have to shovel rain and we had snow in January.
David is an excellent birder – fabulous hearing and knowledge of bird calls. He has generously offered his talents to Seabrook Island Birders and his leadership on bird walks will be missed. Best wishes to him and his family.
From Marcia Hider
SIB was lucky that David is so in love with birding. He has led some wonderful birding trips and his enthusiasm is absolutely infectious. He has said he’ll use any excuse to take a group out. And the proof of that is what he leaves behind. I had to get something in his office once and I could hardly get the door open. There were piles of things everywhere awaiting his return. I just laughed.
But his birding knowledge benefits from the time he puts in. Once last spring, as we were walking on the St. Christopher boardwalk listening to and seeing numerous Green Herons, I heard a different call – kind of a squeaking sound. I asked David if maybe it was from Green Heron chicks. He smiled and said no, that he thought it was probably a frog being consumed by a snake. I was sure he was kidding until I focused in on the location, only to find a snake consuming a frog! Unbelievable.
He will definitely be missed.
From Lydia McDonald
One of my first birding adventures was with David at Bear Island . I remember riding with David in his car, and his vehicle hitting the branches and low plants and he didn’t care because he was doing something he loved. I was wowed by his knowledge and expertise. He was persistent in making sure I found the bird and taught me so much about the birds. David has a gift for finding the birds and teaching others about them. It is fun to be around David ; he truly enjoys his job.
From Aija Konrad
A memorable and very fun day I had with David was when we did a route on the Breeding Bird Survey last June. The survey is done nationally as a long term monitoring program of birds at the height of breeding season. I didn’t quite know what I was getting myself into, but I accepted his invite to do it. I knew that we would cover 24.5 miles of country roads and stop a half mile apart for a total of 3 min in each spot to listen for and count all birds we could ID.
Our route was in Colleton County, near Walterboro, and we started before sunrise! It was a hoot…practically all of it is birding by ear, since in 3 minutes, you barely have time to get your bins up. I was the scribe and timer, David the driver and we both counted the birds. It was so much fun and I was amazed at what we could ID just by sound. After approximately 5 hours, I could barely get out of the car (50 stops, in and out…do the math…LOL!) We took our life in our hands at some stops, barely having a shoulder to pull off on, with cars whizzing by. I can’t remember how many species we got, but it sure was a great day and one I will always remember with David and his enthusiasm, sense of humor and most importantly, his infectious competitive spirit, always hoping for 1 more species!!! That’s David!
From Nancy Brown
It is hard to imagine SIB without David Gardner! David enthusiastically embraced leading many bird walks with our members in all corners of Seabrook Island and beyond. One of the best things we started as a result of David’s suggestion was our Seabrook Island Patch competition! After the 2016-17 Christmas Bird Count, David thought it would be fun to see who could find the most bird species on Seabrook Island in a calendar year. Four of us took on the challenge, but it’s pretty hard to beat someone who lives at St. Christopher, is outdoors most of the day and their job is to be a naturalist! But then, I can’t complain, as David would be the first person to text the three of us to say he’d seen a new species with the specifics of where it was so each of us had a chance to see it as well! I’ve spent several hours trompsing in the wood or beach looking for elusive birds, including an American Woodcock this past winter, which I never did see! In the end, he beat us all out for the 2017 Seabrook Island Patch win. Now that he is leaving, I told him I would finally have a chance to beat him! Although I sure wish he was sticking around, I want to wish he and his family the best of luck for the next chapter of their lives!
From all of us at SIB, thank you to David Gardner for his expertise and enthusiasm in finding and identifying birds! You will be missed!
Any student of nature understands the concept of adaptation. So, when the scheduled Long-billed Curlew trip scheduled for a cool, rainy Sunday was changed to a cold, cloudy Saturday (February 3, 2018), the group of a dozen or more SIBlings (my name for this group of fun and dedicated people) rolled with it. Carpools were arranged and early in the morning, the groups set off for McClellanville, about an hour and a half north of Seabrook Island. We never saw the rising sun, but the clouds spread out in a tremendous display of flame orange, the warmest thing we would see all day, made up for it. A pontoon boat awaited us at the docks. Our guides and Captains for the day were Olivia and Gates, employees of South Carolina Coastal Expeditions.
The schedule included a leisurely motor around some of the 66,000+ acres of islands, barrier beach, and salt marsh called the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge. Unique to the eastern US, the refuge contains 29,000 acres of class 1 wilderness (defined as areas over 5,000 acres which receive the most stringent level of protection). Our target bird, the bird from which the trips received its name: Long-billed Curlew.
I believe Snoopy (apologies to Charles Shultz) would likely start this story “It was a cold and windy morning.”
White-throated Sparrow at the Seabrook Island Water Treatment Plant – Marie Wardell
Bald Eagle soaring above the Seabrook Island Water Treatment Plant – Marie Wardell
Two female Bufflehead swimming at the Seabrook Island Water Treatment Plant – Marie Wardell
Bufflehead swimming at the Seabrook Island Water Treatment Plant – Marie Wardell
Ruddy Duck swimming in the Seabrook Island Water Treatment lake – Nancy Brown
Wilson’s Snipe foraging along the shore of the Seabrook Island Water Treatment lake – Nancy Brown
It was indeed a cold — 28 degrees — and windy morning when we ventured outside to join David Gardner on a Learning Together birding walk. The initial site was the Island’s gardens and maintenance areas. Ten had signed up to accompany David; six showed up; and four finished. Fortunately we enjoyed bright sunshine and much of the time we were sheltered from the chilly wind.
It’s a cold week on Seabrook Island, and what better way to spend Thursday January 4th than by staying inside with a warm beverage and watching your bird feeders to track birds for the annual Sea Islands Christmas Bird Count (CBC). This area encompasses Johns, Wadmalaw, Kiawah and Seabrook Islands.
If you plan to be on the island on Thursday, let us know you want to participate by filling out the form below. We will email you a form that you will use on the day of the count and answer any other questions you may have about the event.
The process for the day is easy, just follow these steps:
Identify and count all individuals of all species that visit your feeder/yard on the day of the count. Record only the highest number seen for each species at any one time for any one count period. For example, if from 7:00 – 7:30 am a single Northern Cardinal visits your feeder, then later two visit, and even later three show up at your feeder, your count for Northern Cardinals will be three – the highest number to visit at one time for that count period. Repeat this process for each count period.
Record the time spent bird watching under each count period. It is not necessary to be at your feeders for the entire day, or even continuously. Record just the time spent watching. In the example about it would be 30 minutes.
Record the highest number of individuals for each species from all count periods and the total number of minutes spent observing.
At the end of the day, forward (scan or take a photo) your form to SIB at: SeabrookIslandBirders@gmail.com. We will collect all the responses and forward to Aaron Givens, CBC Coordinator for Sea Islands.