Birding North Beach

Reddish Egret - Ed Konrad
Reddish Egret – Ed Konrad

Aija and I are back at Seabrook, and had a terrific day first day on the beach yesterday (Wednesday 8/17/16). We gtot our first looks of the summer of the Reddish Egret, which was on North Beach for about an hour and a half. First spotted for a short time back on the old cut. Then flew to beach just north of protected bird area. Aija spotted her first Black Tern of the summer. Some big numbers…50 Sandwich Tern, 300 Black Skimmer, 8 Marbled Godwit. We were at beach from 9am to 1:30pm, as the tide went out.

Here is Aija’a ebird checklist:
Submitted by Ed & Aija Konrad
A large diverse group of birds on the beach - Ed Konrad
A large diverse group of birds on the beach. Check out the Black Skimmers lying flat on the beach – Ed Konrad
Aija enjoying the birds on North Beach - Ed Konrad
Aija enjoying the birds on North Beach – Ed Konrad
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Ed Konrad’s Birding Flickr site

Birding on North Beach - Ed Konrad
Birding on North Beach – Ed Konrad

It’s been a wonderful spring and summer for birding and photography on Seabrook Island! My Birding Flickr site is updated with Aija’s sightings and my photos from around Seabrook Island over the past few months. You may enjoy seeing the many species and action on North Beach, and in our ponds and marshes…the Piping Plover returning, Black-bellied Plover and Ruddy Turnstone in breeding plumage, Wilson’s Plover and Least Tern courting in the protected nesting area, hundreds of Whimbrel, our pair of American Oystercatcher along with a large group sighting, our many diverse Terns, a rare Glossy Ibis sighting, and the Great Egret rookery. Just click here. On the “Photostream” home page you can move your pointer over the photo to reveal the bird species name. And on the home page banner, click on “Albums” and go to the Seabrook Island Album. Here you’ll find the many and diverse birding and wildlife sightings that Aija and I have experienced through the years. Enjoy!

Article submitted by:  Ed & Aija Konrad

Roseate Spoonbill Sighting

Below is a note we received today from a Seabrook Island Resident.

Dear Birders,

I’m not normally a big bird-watcher, but when I was riding my bike on Sunday, August 14, around 4pm on Marsh Gate Drive, I looked over and saw a roseate spoonbill feeding amidst the herons and other waders…  The birds were in the creek runs through the marshy area between Marsh Gate Drive and Deer Point Drive.  The spoonbill’s body was uniformly light pink, which I guess means it was a juvenile.  I did not see another spoonbill with it.  I took a couple photos with my blackberry but I’m not able to forward them.  Would be happy to show them to anyone on my blackberry the next time I’m down on Seabrook.  It was so super cool to see this bird and I have been showing my photos to my friends in my office; they can’t believe I got to see this bird in the wild!

Just wanted to send you a note in case you’re keeping track of Seabrook spoonbills. J

My neighbors on Old Forest Drive told me they’ve seen roseate spoonbills near Botany Bay a little further south…

Best regards, Gretchen Weintraub (2766 Old Forest Drive)

Test Your Knowledge of Wading Birds – The Answers

On Friday we presented a list of 10 wading birds that can be seen on Seabrook Island and asked you if you could match the names to each photo below.   (If you missed that article and want to test your knowledge, click here before we spoil it and give you the answers below!)

It turns out we haven’t officially profiled as many wading birds as we had thought – so if you got them all right – Congratulations!  You are an expert at identifying Wading Birds and should volunteer to assist SIB on our “Learning Together” walks!  One of our first posts covered several of the white birds (Confusing Big White Birds) and we recently posted the Little Blue Heron article.  Below we’ve linked each bird to its description on the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website in case you are interested to learn more about any of these species.

And a special thanks to all our GREAT Seabrook Island Photographers for sharing their fabulous photographs!  (Irene Haskings, Ed Konrad, Charley Moore & Dean Morr)

We hope you liked this weeks format change and we will feature another group of birds for you to guess later in the fall.

WADING BIRD ANSWERS:

  1. Great Egret – C
  2. Snowy Egret – G
  3. Reddish Egret – E
  4. Great Blue Heron – D
  5. Little Blue Heron – B
  6. Tricolored Heron – H
  7. Woodstork – I
  8. White Ibis – J
  9. Glossy Ibis – A
  10. Roseate Spoonbill – F

 

Test Your Knowledge of Wading Birds

We began our “Bird of the Week” series in March and we hope you have been able to learn a few things about our feathered friends.  This week we hope you will enjoy a little quiz to test your knowledge.  Below is a list of wading birds which we have already profiled (and a few we haven’t).

On your own match the name of each bird to their photo?   We will publish the answers on Sunday.  Good luck!!!

  1. Great Egret
  2. Snowy Egret
  3. Reddish Egret
  4. Great Blue Heron
  5. Little Blue Heron
  6. Tricolored Heron
  7. Woodstork
  8. White Ibis
  9. Glossy Ibis
  10. Roseate Spoonbill

 

Learning Together at the Crab Dock

Birders on Jerome's deck 08/06/16
Birders on Jerome’s deck 08/06/16
Learning together birders trying to identify bird in marsh
Learning together birders trying to identify bird in marsh

Fourteen SIB members gathered the morning of Saturday, August 6, for a two-hour birding session at the Crab Dock.   Many of the group are new to birding and were hoping to catch their first glimpse of a clapper rail.  The morning exceeded expectations when a mother clapper rail was seen herding her baby from the boat ramp back in to the marsh grasses.  Below is the complete list of the 22 bird species either seen or heard from Rob and Melanie Jerome’s deck or from the nearby marsh tower and the lagoon across from the fire station.

 

1 Great Blue Heron
1 Great Egret
2 Snowy Egret
1 Little Blue Heron
2 Tricolored Heron
2 Green Heron
1 Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
3 White Ibis
6 Glossy Ibis
1 Mississippi Kite
3 Clapper Rail
6 Laughing Gull
1 Ruby-throated Hummingbird
2 Belted Kingfisher
1 Downy Woodpecker
6 American Crow
3 Carolina Chickadee
4 Tufted Titmouse
2 Carolina Wren
3 Eastern Bluebird
2 Northern Mockingbird
2 Northern Cardinal

SIB “Bird of the Week” – Clapper Rail

Clapper RailRallus longirostris
Length:  14.5″; Wingspan: 19″; Weight: 10 oz.

Clapper Rail eating a small crab on the mud flat - Ed Konrad
Clapper Rail eating a small crab on the mud flat – Ed Konrad

You may not be aware that hidden in dense cover in our salt marshes lurk a bird called Clapper Rail.  This slinking, secretive bird is a year-round resident on our island and often we only hear the loud clattering call as our clue that a Clapper Rail is even around.  Because they also rarely fly you are very lucky if you get a quick glimpse of one stalking mud dwelling prey along the edge of the marsh.

Are you familiar with the saying “thin as a rail”?  Well, this saying is attributed to the Rail’s lean body and the fact that this stealth bird has the ability to compress its body to such a degree that it can easily squeeze between stems of grass and plants almost melting into the vegetation and and barely causing a ripple.  This tactic allows them to quickly disappear to escape their predators.  Clapper Rails are so effective at maintaining a low profile that their major nonhuman predators are pike, black bass, and other predatory fish which feed on their young.

The Clapper Rail has a chicken-like appearance, with long unwebbed gray toes, strong legs and long slightly decurved bill. When it walks it twitches its short upturned white patched tail.  It has grayish brown upper-parts with vertical white-barred flanks, grayish cheeks and white throat.  Its eye color is red to reddish orange.  This bird is locally known as the Marsh Hen, Salt Water Marsh Hen and Mud Chicken.  Males are slightly larger than females but similar in coloration.

These birds feed mainly on crustaceans, aquatic insects, grasshoppers, seeds, slugs and small fish. They search for food while walking and probing with their long bills in shallow water or mud.

Nests are well built cups of grasses and sedges lined with finer material.  The nests are usually built on the highest, driest place in the marsh. During courtship the male points his bill down and swings his head from side to side.  He also may stand erect with neck stretched and bill open.  Nesting season is from April to June.

The eggs, 5-12, are creamy white with irregular brown blotching. The incubation is 20-23 days and the new young are covered with black down and leave the nest within one day to be fed by the parents.  Young can fly in about 9-10 weeks.  Both parents feed and guard the young until they are independent.  Since these rails are very territorial during feeding and breeding they can be quite belligerent when defending their nests.

A group of Rails is collectively known as a “reel” of rails.

In 1940 one hurricane left an estimated 15,000 of these rails dead in South Carolina, and in 1976 another storm killed some 20,000 in New Jersey.

Keep an eye ear out for Clapper Rails, as they live amongst us in the marshes all thoughout Seabrook Island.

Similar Species

  • King Rail: Habits similar to Clapper Rail.  Plumage is darker and more richly colored and more reddish. More distinct blackish centers on upper parts.
  • Virginia Rail: Smaller in size 9.5″L, 13″ wing span and 3 oz weight. Plumage bright reddish. Bill is more brightly colored

If you would like to learn more about this bird visit:

Article submitted by:  Flo Foley
Photographs provided by:  Ed Konrad & Bob Hider

This blog post is part of a series SIB will publish on a regular basis to feature birds seen in the area, both migratory and permanent residents.  When possible we will use photographs taken by our members.    Please let us know if you have any special requests of birds you would like to learn more about.