Nine locations, 93 species, 2,082 individual birds, 11 hours and 20,000+ steps are the numbers I reported for my marathon day of birding. Bob Mercer and I spent the long day doing social distancing while birding. Six others joined us at varying locations to participate in the fun. Let me tell you more about my day.
We started the day at 6:30 with a visit to Camp St. Christopher. We were granted permission to bird in this closed facility. (Our individual donations to the Camp were appreciated!) Bob was able to identify the numerous birds we heard in the dawn chorus. The day started with Painted Buntings and Summer Tanagers. 46 species were seen on our 2.7 mile walk. (Mark Andrews admitted he didn’t realize such long trails could be hidden in the relatively small gem.) At the slough (with very high water) we saw a flock of Cedar Waxwings that had yet to go north. Near there, we also heard a Yellow-billed Cuckoo and two Black-throated Blue Warblers. This was also the only location we reported a White-eyed Vireo, a Red-eyed Vireo or Eastern Kingbird.
Our second location of the day was the always interesting North Beach. The wind was chilly and brutal but we saw 45 species and almost 3 miles. One Piping Plover, American Oystercatchers (including the infamous U5), a small number of Red Knots, Wilson Plovers, Black-bellied Plovers and Least Terns were seen. In greater abundance were Semipalmated Plovers (700), Semipalmated Sandpipers (75), Dunlins (125), Sanderlings (100), and Royal Terns (75). Of course, Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls were there as well. On the return walk from the spit, a Savannah Sparrow was seen running along the dune.
The last stop of the morning probably had the greatest concentration of birds. We stopped to see the rookery on the golf course lagoon that backs to houses on The Haulover. We had to guess at the numbers of birds as they were everywhere. Some Great Egrets had penthouse nests on tops of palms. Wood Storks were still constructing their nests. Great Egrets and Snowy egrets were feeding their young. Even Cattle Egret were in residence at this commune as were several pairs of Anhinga. A total of 15 species were seen in this brief stop.
The afternoon started with a walk around Palmetto Lake. A mature male Orchard Oriole, a female Orchard Oriole and a first-year male all gave us good views to get a good comparison of the varying plumage. In one hour and about three quarters of a mile, 30 species were seen.
First seen at this location then seen again later in the day were Northern Rough-winged Swallows and a beautiful Mississippi Kite. When a European Starling crossed our path, we could eliminate the Horse Pasture from our scheduled itinerary and make up for lost time.
The Maintenance Area was next on our stop. The 29 species were all seen in less than .2 mile and a half hour. By this time, our legs appreciated this. Highlights were three Mississippi Kites circling along with two Red-shouldered Hawks. A mama Killdeer was there with her chicks.
An elegant Black-necked Stilt was seen. 25 Least Sandpipers were near at hand. When planning our day, this was the location we hoped to see the Spotted Sandpiper. There were four here but we also saw them bobbing their tails at three other locations.
Jenkins Point resulted in 33 species over 1.4 mile. Although seen in five locations, the 10 Green Heron seen here were the peak. One was building a nest and another posed nicely for a photo. There were no species seen only at this location but 13 Black-crowned Night Herons were another highlight. All participants admired but stayed clear of the numerous “baby” alligators. It was agreed, those were probably either one or two years old.
Nancy Brown joined Bob and I for our last stop at Bohicket Marina. The Eurasian Collared-Dove was the goal for this stop. It was an easy find since one is nesting on Nancy and Flo’s porch. Other unique finds within the 21 species seen were Chimney Swifts and Black Skimmers (missed at North Beach).
After I was home and enjoying that glass of wine, I was able to add to my day’s list with a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, a Wild Turkey, and a female Rose-breasted Grosbeak. As night settled in, I heard the Chuck-will’s-Wwidow as my 93rd species of the day.
“Expected” but not seen were Eastern Towhee, White-breasted Nuthatch (Friday’s sighting didn’t count), any owls, and Black-and-white Warbler. With these notable misses, I may have to try again next year with a goal of 100 species.
Submitted by: Judy Morr
From the renowned author and illustrator of the bestselling Sibley’s Guide to Birds comes What It’s Like to Be a Bird: From Flying to Nesting, Eating to Singing–What Birds Are Doing, and Why. This is the bird book for birders and non–birders alike that will excite and inspire by providing a new and deeper understanding of what common birds are doing–and why.
“Can birds smell?” “Is this the same cardinal that was at my feeder last year?” “Do robins ‘hear’ worms?” In What It’s Like to Be a Bird, David Sibley answers the most frequently asked questions about the birds we see most often. This special, large-format volume is geared to non–birders and the bird-obsessed, covering more than two hundred species with more than 330 illustrations. Sibley’s exacting artwork and wide-ranging expertise bring observed behaviors vividly to life. And while the text is aimed at adults–including fascinating research on the ways birds have adapted to environmental changes–it is nontechnical, making it perfect for parents and grandparents to share with young children, who will delight in David Sibley’s big, full-color illustrations.
To view the lecture, purchase a ticket for $40 + tax. The link to view the virtual lecture will be emailed to ticket holders on the afternoon of April 29th. The lecture will be available for two weeks. A copy of What It’s Like to Be a Bird will be mailed to your home from Mystery Lovers Bookshop. (This book is also available through Amazon as a hardcover or Kindle.)
Please see the message below regarding birdwalks at Caw Caw:
Date: March 17, 2020 at 2:30:53 PM EDT
Charleston County Parks has cancelled all programs and events from now through May 10. There will be no birdwalks at Caw Caw during that time, even though the park may be open. It is possible that more will be cancelled into the future, and that the parks may close entirely during some or all of that time.
Please check charlestoncountyparks.com for additional cancellation information. Since we don’t require pre-registration for these birdwalks at Caw Caw, people may just show up expecting a program. Please spread the word that as of right now, our next birdwalk at Caw Caw will be Wednesday May 13.
Thanks for your help, and we hope to see you soon! Good birding to you!
Keith McCullough, C.I.T.
Natural History Interpretation Coordinator
Charleston County Park & Recreation Commission
5200 Savannah Hwy, Ravenel, SC 29470
Sunday March 22, 2020 9:00 – 11:00 am
Spring Migration @ St. Christopher Camp & Conference Center
Location: Meet at the Bus Parking Lot at St. Christopher
Max: 10 walkers, 3 in cart
Explore the property at St. Christopher with one of the Camp’s environmentalists providing a cart for 3 birders with mobility issues. This event will visit the feeders near Susannah’s House then continue along the roads with walking birders accompanying those in the Camp’s vehicle. Spring should have begun, so we should see all the usual suspects, but will also hopefully get looks at our some of our more elusive resident breeding songbirds…Yellow-throated Warbler, Pine Warbler, Northern Parula, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher and Painted Bunting.
Early April is the start of migration for a number of species, so we may be lucky to see a few migrant warblers (Louisiana Waterthrush, Prothonotary Warbler, Common Yellowthroat), Scarlet Tanagers and Blue Grosbeaks.
Bring sun block, bug spray, a hat, water and binoculars.
If you are not yet a 2020 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 Friday March 20, 2020. All registrants will receive a confirmation letter on Saturday March 21st.
Please sign up using the updated link below:
Description: Join the Seabrook Island Birders and the Seabrook Island Youth Group for a leisurely walk around Palmetto Lake. Beginners and experienced birders are welcome. We can teach you birding and how to use binoculars. We will provide binoculars, but if you have your own, please bring them. Spring Migration will have just started, but maybe the ducks will still be there. We will see our usual songbirds and shorebirds. We will have to look to the skies for hawks and bald eagles too. Daylight savings time is March 8th. We will have plenty of light left for our stroll. Members welcome without children.
Dress in layers, wear sturdy shoes and bring sun block, bug spray, a hat, water and binoculars.
Revision: This event will be free to all who attend. If you would like to join Seabrook Island Birders, the annual fee is $10/person aged 17 and older. Just visit us at our website: https://seabrookislandbirders.org/contact/join-sib/ to find the membership form or bring $10 to the next event you attend.
Register by completing the information below by Friday March 13.
With March as the gateway month for spring here in the Low Country, the Seabrook Island Birders are looking forward to filling it with some exciting activities that are open to everyone.
Check out what we have planned and register soon to secure your place.
Tuesday, March 5, 2020
WHAT: SIB Movie Matinee Double Feature
WHERE: Oyster Catcher Community Center
WHEN: 4:30pm – 6:30pm Register Here
Saturday, March 7, 2020
What: Shorebird Walk on North Beach
WHERE: Meet at Property Owner’s Parking Lot at Boardwalk #1
WHEN: 3:00pm – 6:00pm Register Here
Saturday, March 14, 2020
WHAT: Youth Birding at Palmetto Lake
WHERE: Meet at Lake House Parking Lot
WHEN: 4:00pm – 6:00pm Register Here
Tuesday, March 17, 2020
WHAT: Shorebird Walk on North Beach
WHERE: Meet at Property Owner’s Parking Lot at Boardwalk #1
WHEN: 9:00am – 11:30am Register Here
Sunday, March 22, 2020
WHAT: Spring Migration @ Camp St Christopher
WHERE: Meet at Bus Parking Lot at Camp St. Christopher
WHEN: 9:00am – 11:00am Register Here
Monday, March 23, 2020
WHAT: Learning Together on Crooked Oaks Course
WHERE: Meet at Island House parking lot next to Spinnaker Beach Houses
WHEN: 8:30am – 11:00am Register Here