SIB March Evening Program “Where Have All the Shorebirds Gone?” and North Beach Bird Walk

On March 28, 90 SIB members and friends attended an informative evening program on “Where Have All the Shorebirds Gone?” The program focused on Seabrook Island’s protected shorebirds, threats they face, and what we can all do to help protect them.

After social time and refreshments, Aija and Ed Konrad lead a shorebird identification slide show with photos of shorebirds found on Seabrook Island (Ed Aija Shorebird ID SIB Mar 28). Our guest speakers were Melissa Chaplin, Endangered Species Biologist, U.S. Fish & Wildlife Services, SC Field Office, and Janet Thibault, Wildlife Biologist, SC Dept. of Natural Resources. Melissa and Janet are very familiar with Seabrook Island’s critical habitat, and the diversity of shorebirds that depend on our beach to rest and refuel during wintering and migration, or nest in our dunes, or are year-round residents.

Continue reading “SIB March Evening Program “Where Have All the Shorebirds Gone?” and North Beach Bird Walk”


SIB Member Profile: Carl Voelker

Carl Voelker

One of the strengths in the management of the several elements on Seabrook Island is the willingness of hundreds of its property owners to volunteer their time in serving on committees. They choose not to be in the spotlight of elective office. They do the grunt work and fly under the radar. One of these persons is Carl Voelker.

Carl’s community activities on Seabrook have been focused on addressing the Island’s environmental concerns. He has been a long time member of SIPOA’s Environmental Committee and part of various task forces and sub-committees therein. One of his early projects was helping to establish sound recycling practices in our community. Currently he is on the SIPOA Planning Committee and has been very active in the successful effort to secure our Island’s certification as an Audubon International Sustainable Community. The boards of both the Seabrook Island Green Space Conservancy and SINHG have benefitted from his participation.

A native of rural Georgia, he graduated from the University of Georgia, majoring in marketing. As an enlisted member of the National Guard, he completed US Army MP school at Fort Gordon and had several active duty call-ups while attached to units in Georgia and Texas. Following UGA, Carl began a 35-year career in sales and sales management with Armstrong Cork Company (now Armstrong World Industries). In his initial location, San Antonio, Texas, he met Simone. They will soon celebrate 44 years of marriage. The couple moved to Seabrook Island in 2006, after his retirement, and now enjoy the marsh views off their back deck. One of two adult children lives on James Island allowing him plenty of grandfathering time with his two pre-teen grandchildren.

Carl says “I have only an average working knowledge of birds, but am improving thanks to the exposure I’m getting through Seabrook Island Birders. I think most would agree that increased knowledge leads to greater appreciation. While it’s nice to observe a pretty bird or impressive tree, it is more rewarding to be able to identify the bird or tree by name and know something about the species.” He has recently joined the SIB Executive Committee and is focusing on the organization’s participation in various special Island events.

Endeavors which have brought him pleasure, beyond work and community involvement, are reading, designing and building tables and chairs, music (he once had a harmonica gig in a duo at Fischers Bar and Grill), and just being outdoors. A current passion is kayak-camping on small Southeast creeks and rivers — 15 different ones since 2004. He can also be found hitting long drives on our golf courses. Some of his furniture pieces are utilitarian (the accompanying picture shows him in an elevated deck chair with built-in foot rest which he designed and built). Others are truly works of art with which they have graced their home. Simone is an impressive artist in her own right with a wide variety of sculptures in wood, metal, marble, and alabaster. Both have exhibited in Seabrook’s art show on annual meeting weekend.

Of active people like these two is the enchanting and friendly character of Seabrook Island built and maintained.

Submitted by George Haskins
Picture contributed by Carl Voelker

Volunteers needed to assist in Red Knot Banding

If you attended either Felicia Sander’s presentation on Red Knots last June or last month’s Shore Bird evening program, you know Seabrook Island is an important stop over on Red Knots migration north.  Each year, the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (DNR) helps in the federally endangered species research by banding the birds as they migrate through our area.  The new brochure developed in conjunction with the town, DNR, US Fish and Wildlife and Seabrook Island Birders gives more information.

Red Knots, North Beach, April 2016 – Ed Konrad

Recently, Felicia reached out to SIB members alerting them of DNR’s plans to once again band on Seabrook Island if the Red Knots cooperated.   The hope is to do this sometime the week of April 16. When DNR performs this activity, they need volunteers to assist in the process.  The volunteers would be assigned tasks (and trained if needed) of preparing the area for capture of the Red Knots, educating fellow residents encountered during the process, actually “firing” the nets to capture the Red Knots then safely releasing them to holding tents, banding (and recording data) and then releasing the birds back to the beach.

Red Knot Banding Apr 29 2017 on North Beach, Seabrook Island – Ed Konrad

If you are interested in assisting in the banding effort, please let us know by completing the attached form.  By completing the form, you are not committing to the date since we are not sure when exactly it will be.  This information will let us know to reach out to you when the date and time is known to finalize your ability to assist.

Thank-you for your assistance and cooperation in conducting research for this endangered species.


Sign up for April Bird Walks with SIB

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:

April 2018

Keep watch on our Calendar as we continue to add activities for our members!

Also, join our SIB Google Group to receive an email about short-notice bird walks and interesting bird sightings!

Events are free for members and $5 for guests. If you are not yet a 2018 SIB member, you may first become a member by following the instructions here.

Respect Seabrook Island’s Shorebirds & Habitat

In an extraordinary example of what can be accomplished in a positive collaborative effort by private and governmental interests, a new Seabrook Island beach brochure has been prepared and printed and will be shared with participants at SIB’s evening program on Wednesday March 28.  (Even if you haven’t been able to RSVP, there is still space, so please join us tonight!) Initiated and facilitated by Seabrook island Birders’ (SIB) Ed Konrad, this colorful educational pamphlet provides guidelines and reasons for preservation of shorebird habitat.  Contributions to the wording and layout were made by SIB Executive Committee members, as well as representatives of the SIPOA Environmental Committee, US Fish and Wildlife (USF&WL), SC Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the Town of Seabrook Island Council.  These groups have all endorsed the brochure.  The cost has been supported by the Town, which has management responsibly for the beach area, and SIB.  Distribution will primarily be through the Town Hall, SI Club’s Amenity Office, Lake House, and those groups who offer property rental services.

As a support in launching this informational effort, SIB’s next members’ evening program (complete with refreshments and a raffle) will be on March 28th at 7:00 PM in The Lake House.  The event will feature Melissa Chaplin (USF&WL) and Janet Thibault (SC DNR), each of whom plus Felicia (?) (SC DNR) were involved in the brochure preparation, in an interactive discussion of our shorebird population and its habitat.  These individuals are regularly seen on the beach monitoring those birds— particularly the Piping Plover and Red Knot.  They also are responsible for placing and maintaining the seasonal signage which defines the nesting area of our North Beach.  It is important to recall that one of the key items which will be considered in any future applications for inlet relocation, as was done recently with the cut, will be the success in protecting shorebird habitat.

While the words of the brochure are important, it will ultimately be the positive stewardship actions of the persons who walk the beach as to whether our migratory and resident shorebird populations survive.  The opportunity to see and interact with wildlife and our beautiful beaches are generally acknowledged as primary attractors for visitors to Seabrook.   Visitors become buyers.  It is our responsibility to assure continued wildlife presence.

Submitted by George Haskins

Red Knots and Piping Plovers on North Beach!

Register for one or both of our great events this week!

Where Have All the Shorebirds Gone – Wednesday, March 28, 7:00 pm

SIB bird walk at North Beach with Aija & Ed –  Thursday, March 29, 8:30 am

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 (, 1C1 has also been reported at Kiawah Island in 2012, and at Pawleys Island and Murrells Inlet in 2015 and 2016.

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.

Red Knots, North Beach, April 2016 – Ed Konrad

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.

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!

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!

Article by Aija Konrad, Photos by Ed Konrad

REMINDER: Register Now For “Where Have All the Shorebirds Gone?” on March 28th!

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!

Register Now!

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.