Wednesday, November 4, 2015

It was a Ruff day

Last Wednesday evening, there was a post on Georgia Birding Online (GABO) listserv. This post said there was a Hudsonian Godwit and RUFF seen on Onslow Island. Now for twenty some-odd years I have NOT been in the right place at the right time to see the shorebird called Ruff.  Well, when I saw that post on GABO, I was ready to go the next day. There was a problem.

Onslow Island is part of the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. It is a spoil island. Right now, it is only open on Wednesdays to birders.  We were going to have to wait six long days before we could try and see this rare shorebird. But wait we did.

It is Wednesday. Plans to carpool congealed and we- Sterling Blanchard, Bob Settelmyer, John Galvani, Priscilla Fleshmen and I piled into Sterling's car and went. Thoughts of will it be there whirled in our heads, but then the email came. The ruff and Godwit were there. Even more exciting news from that post was that there were two Ruffs!

We got to the parking area, and cars were jammed into every nook and cranny. We parked and walked, meeting smiling birders who had been there and seen the birds.

We topped the dike. There in front of us were the impoundment ponds.

There were shorebirds and ducks scattered across the area. We were lucky right off the bat.  The Hudsonian Godwit was in the area out in front of us. Tick that Georgia bird. Godwits are elegant shorebirds so what luck. It was there long enough for us to see it and watch it for a few minutes and then it flew up and over the tree line to drop down out of our sight.
Sorry about the poor quality but it was out in the middle of the impoundment pond.
After greeting some of the other birders who had come from far and wide, we settled down to looking for the Ruffs. Lesser Yellowlegs and Pectoral Sandpipers were checked out and ruled out. There is always a period of adjustment when I get to a new area. 
We moved over to the west side of the impoundments and shuffled through the yellowlegs. Finally, I found one bird that didn't look like the other shorebirds. The bird I was looking at was a little browner, and the bill look shorter. I called James Fleullan over. He was the one who had seen it the week before. He confirmed the "smaller Ruff."  LIFEBIRD what an incredible feeling to have looked and missed for so many years and there she was.  
Here is the Reeve on the left and the yellowlegs on the right.

It was fun watching them but where was the "bigger one." The group went looking and found the Ruff feeding on the edge pond.  
So I didn't just get a lifebird, I got two parts of the whole picture of the lifebird, both male and female. 
Onslow Island is a good little shorebird spot and Priscilla, and I will be back. Please remember that this area is only open to birders on Wednesdays. Be good birders so all of us can enjoy this Georgia Shorebird spot. 

Friday, October 16, 2015

Banding on Jekyll Island

On October 14, I visited Jekyll Island Banding Station (JIBS).  JIBS has been around since the late 1970’s. The data that they gather has been invaluable to understand how migratory bird use Jekyll Island.  Over the years, the data show that the south end of Jekyll is so important to birds traveling along the coast. It offers food, water, and shelter for these birds. Palm Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, American Redstarts and Black-throated Blue Warblers are the main warblers that use this area in late September, but there are always surprises. Plus every year is different. 
 There were Tree Swallows swarming around the wax myrtles then dropping near the swallow water pools.

On the path to the station there were Western Palm Warblers feeding in the grasses.

I got to the station, and there was a Road Scholars Group listening to Charlie Muise was showing them some of the birds banded at the station. Here he is with a Blue-throated Blue Warbler female. He is a wealth of knowledge. I know these eager birders learned a lot about birds.
But these Road Scholar got another lesson when the folks studying snakes for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center.  They were very willing to add to the experience of this group. This habitat is important to a wide range of creatures and each creature is important in the habitat. 

Evan Pitman is the Master bander at the station. Here he is working with a Common Ground Dove.
Here is Evan is working with a Bay-breasted Warbler. This is a common bird at the station.
Heather Pitman is holding the Bay-breasted Warblers for record photos.

Meghan Davies is an Americorps Intern at the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and on her days off she likes to go birding. She helped me with some plover work this summer. I told her about the station and she volunteered. She can now add this to her resume.
What fun to see this station continuing to add to our knowledge of this area.

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

My Lifer Red-footed Booby

Tuesday morning October 6, Tim Keyes called and said, "I have a booby sitting on the St. Simons Pier." Well, I am only 2 miles from that pier. When I walked up Tim and Bob were there watching this large fawn colored booby with dull orange feet sitting right in front of us. My goodness! It has been a while since I had a life bird, but this Red-footed Booby was going to be added to my list.
It was a strangely beautiful colored bird.  It was pretty beaten up from flying in the storm Joaquin. Here a few pictures of this amazing bird.

It was a big bird.

Monday, October 12, 2015

A busy week ending with Shorebird Survey

Willa with her siblings and parent 
It has been a busy last few weeks. First there was the Georgia Ornithological Society meeting where I got a chance to preview “Willa’s Grand Adventures,” children’s book. It was well received. There were some good suggestions on how to smooth out some transitions.

During the week, I had to prepare the etching press for it debut as a teaching tool at Glynn Visual Art Center.  The press and I had our first printmaking workshop on Sunday. You can read about that workshop at
This one is banded. This was at the south end at the end of September . Will it stay for the winter

This one wasn't banded but was hanging with the banded plover
On Saturday morning, Breanna and I were out at dawn for our International Shorebird Survey. It was overcast, and there wasn’t as much bird activity. However, we were treated to three Piping Plovers.  Here a few pictures. Enjoy.  
A happy plover watcher watching a happy plover. 

Sunday, September 27, 2015

I was out two times this week to look for birds.

Friday September 25, Breanna and I conducted an International Shorebird survey. There were lots of shorebirds gathered up in the wrack. We were fortunate to see two Piping Plovers. One was banded with color bands. On the left leg there was one orange band. On the right leg there was a metal band above the knee and a green band below the knee. I am excited to learn more about this little banded bird.

We also found one Common Tern among the Royal Terns.

On Sunday September 27, I joined a group of women who have known each other since the grade school.

We were going out to the beach but the tide was extremely high. We did find a Reddish Egret enjoying the surf. Then we walked up to 4th street to see the egrets and ibis.

 We also discovered some tiny frogs. You never know what you are going to discover when you get outside. To quote Bilbo Baggins, "It is a danger business stepping out your door. Step out on the road you don't know where you'll be sweep off  to."

 Katherine, my Grandniece is working on an school assignment called "concentrating." This was a perfect walk for her to spend some time discovering nature.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Shorebird Survey September 9

On Wednesday, September 9, Breanna Ondich, Meghan Davis and I headed out to do Jekyll Island International Shorebird Survey. We choose to do this four main beach survey in the evening.

Before I go on about the survey, I want to introduce Breanna.  She is Jekyll Island's new Park Ranger. The job is three jobs in one title. She will be doing in beach patrols, helping with the wildlife research, and developing environmental educational programs.

Back to our survey. Here is the form that we used.


Least Sandpipers and lots of Sanderlings were our shorebirds.

There were lots of waterbirds.

  We finished as the sun was setting.
This is perfect way to end the day.

Monday, August 31, 2015

Spoonbills on the Jekyll Island Causeway

On Sunday August 30, I was headed to work at Jekyll Island Guest Information Center but I was early. It was high tide so I drove past the toll plaza and pulled over. This is a favorite place to see spoonbills. Today was no different. What a treat to watch before going to work helping people discover Jekyll Island.

Here is a look through the palms at the gathering.