Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Georgia Ornithological Society Field Trip

Saturday April 21, 2007
Jekyll Island
What a difference a day can make! Today there were no gale force winds. It was a beautiful day. Clear skies and a little breeze gave the Georgia Ornithological Society’s field trip groups the perfect weather for watching birds. At the end of the day the two groups had seen one hundred species of birds. There were some birds missing from our list. The Wilson’s Plovers are here but that storm had them out of sight. Here some of the high lights for our group:
Gray Kingbirds put on quite a show. They were playing hide and go seek. They first showed up flying from down the road then around the shopping center to their favorite tree.
There were several species of swallows around the historic district.
We made several stops on the north end. At one point the group was laughing. They thought we would have made better time if we had walked. It seemed we stopped every few feet on the road from Clam Creek Picnic Area to the campground. There were wonderful birds singing along the way. One stop we had great looks at a male Painted Bunting singing in a bush not ten feet from us. Yellow-throated Warblers and Northern Parulas were everywhere singing. We did make it to the campground sanctuary and the amphitheater before lunch.
We ended the day at the south end of Jekyll where we had five species of terns and a Piping Plover. The group with me was great. We took our time at each stop. Everyone got to see birds. At the south end we learned that it pays to wait for the birds are always changing.
The complete list of birds seen is below.
With Jekyll’s wildlife on my mind

There were 100 species seen on Jekyll by two groups of Birders

"Red-breasted Merganser", 3 Gisco Marina Rd
"Northern Gannet", 1,"Our group saw one but several groups reported them in the area
"Double-crested Cormorant",
"Anhinga", Amphitheater
"Brown Pelican",
"Tricolored Heron", 3 Historic District
"Little Blue Heron", 1 Historic District, 1 Welcome Center
"Snowy Egret",
"Great Egret",
"Cattle Egret", Airport
"Green Heron", 1 Causeway
"Yellow-crowned Night-Heron", Amphitheater
"Black-crowned Night-Heron", Amphitheater
"White Ibis" 3 Amphitheater
"Wood Stork", Amphitheater
"Black Vulture",
"Turkey Vulture","
"Osprey", Amphitheater
"Cooper's Hawk", 1 Shopping Center at the last minute
"Red-tailed Hawk", 1 Amphitheater
"Clapper Rail", Welcome Center
"Spotted Sandpiper", 1 Clam Creek
"Ruddy Turnstone Jekyll Point Beach
"Short-billed Dowitcher” Historic District
"Sanderling", Jekyll Point Beach
"Semipalmated Sandpiper", Historic District
"Least Sandpiper", 4 Jekyll Point Beach
"Dunlin, Historic District, Jekyll Point Beach
"Black-bellied Plover", Jekyll Point Beach
"Semipalmated Plover", Historic District
"Killdeer" 2 Shopping Center
"Piping Plover", 1 Jekyll Point Beach
"Ring-billed Gull",
"Herring Gull", 16 Jekyll Point Beach
"Bonaparte's Gull", 9 Jekyll Point Beach
"Laughing Gull",
"Caspian Tern" 6 4-H East & Jekyll Point Beach
"Royal Tern", Jekyll Point Beach
"Sandwich Tern", Jekyll Point Beach
"Common Tern", 1 Jekyll Point Beach
"Forster's Tern", Jekyll Point Beach
"Least Tern", Historic District and Clam Creek
"Black Skimmer", 20 Jekyll Point Beach
"Eurasian Collared-Dove", Shopping Center
"Mourning Dove",
"Yellow-billed Cuckoo", 2 Campground
"Chimney Swift", 3 Historic District
"Ruby-throated Hummingbird", 1 Campground seen flying away
"Red-bellied Woodpecker",
"Downy Woodpecker", Amphitheater
"Pileated Woodpecker", Amphitheater
"Gray Kingbird", 2 Shopping Center flying in & out"
"Blue Jay" 1,"Campground
"American Crow", Historic District
"Fish Crow",
"White-eyed Vireo",
"Red-eyed Vireo", Historic District
"Loggerhead Shrike, 2 south of Convention center 1 north of Convention Center
"Cedar Waxwing"
"Gray Catbird", 1, 4-H East
"Northern Mockingbird"
"Brown Thrasher",
"European Starling",
Thrush species??" The bird was either Hermit or Gray-cheeked but key field marks were obscured
Wood Thrush, Clam Creek singing
"Marsh Wren", Welcome Center
"Carolina Wren",
"Blue-gray Gnatcatcher", 1, Amphitheater
"Purple Martin", Historic District
"Northern Rough-winged Swallow", Historic District
"Barn Swallow", Historic District nesting
"Ruby-crowned Kinglet", 2 Clam Creek
"Carolina Chickadee",
"Tufted Titmouse", 2 Campground
"House Sparrow", Shopping Center
"Northern Parula",
"Yellow-rumped Warbler",
"Yellow-throated Warbler",
"Pine Warbler", Amphitheater
"Prairie Warbler", 1 Clam Creek
"Black-and-white Warbler", 1 Campground
"Ovenbird", 1,"seen by other group
"Worm-eating Warbler", 1 Campground seen by other group
"Kentucky Warbler", 1 Campground
"White-throated Sparrow", 6 Campground
"Chipping Sparrow", 1,"some of my group saw them Amphitheater
"Eastern Towhee", Clam Creek
"Summer Tanager", Clam Creek
"Rose-breasted Grosbeak", 1, Campground seen by other group
"Northern Cardinal",
"Painted Bunting", 1, Clam Creek, 1 Campground
"Orchard Oriole" 1 first year male Clam Creek
"Red-winged Blackbird",
"Boat-tailed Grackle",
"Common Grackle",
"Brown-headed Cowbird",
"House Finch", 2 Campground
"Peregrine Falcon", 1 Clam Creek

Monday, April 23, 2007

Talk and tours

Thursday April 19, 2007,
I didn’t go out birding today. Well, I did do some birding but I just didn’t go out just to bird. Instead today I did a talk. The High-timers are active retired folks from my church St. Simons Presbyterian Church. This talk is titled “FROM THE BACKYARD TO THE BEACH: BIRDING ALONG THE GEORGIA COAST”. My goal in giving talks is reconnecting people to the outdoors. What better way to do this than through birds. Birds are generally everywhere. There are some very beautiful birds are active during the day so we see them. The more people who are feeding and watching birds, the more folks who will understand the fragile connection we have in the world. There is so much ugly news these days. People complain that life is exhausting and overwhelms them. This cycle seems to permeate our society and clog up our lives. Birding is a great way to break that cycle and help give us prospective. So at noon as I was reaching for the computer case, I made note of the Great-crested Flycatcher singing. Inside I got set up and asked how many feed the birds. I was surprised to find that a lot of the group didn’t feed the birds. This was perfect for them. When I got to the part about common birds that don’t come to bird feeder, I told them about the Great-crested Flycatcher singing. Several days later I had some nice comments on the talk. There was one person who asked me the Great-crested Flycatcher. She is planning taking her grandson out in the backyard to find it. Bingo one more person watching out for our birds.

Friday April 20, 2007 The weather map lied today. The way it looked it was clear. It wasn’t clear in fact it looked like rain. We need rain. And to top it off it was cold and the wind was howling out of the Northeast. Birding Jekyll today was going to be a challenge. The shrike was hiding. The Gray Kingbird stayed very low on the guide wire but we did see him! Wind really puts the birds down in the middle of the trees behind leaves therefore they are harder to find. So we bounced around today spending a few minutes in each place. At around 9:30 we attempted a walk north of the “Glory Boardwalk”. The wind just pushed us back so I just gave it up. Wilson’s Plovers were not going to be out in this wind anyway. The one redeeming part of this stop was running into fellow birder Cheryl Kane. Cheryl had been bouncing around too and had some very interesting sighting. After we exchange news, we were off to check out the very north end of Jekyll. Our luck began to turn around. We added Least Tern, Great Black-backed Gull and surprisingly an immature Northern Gannet. The campground sanctuary was out of the wind and the birds were busy feeding. Our last stop was the Amphitheater. It was again quiet and the birds were helpful. We ended the day with great looks at Scarlet Tanager Maybe the wind was howling, maybe the light wasn’t right, maybe we didn’t see the Wilson’s Plovers but still any day is a good day when you are birding.

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Scarlet Tanager Swallow-tail Kite Wow

April 19,2007
Oh my gosh! I just was on the phone talking about putting together the Registration Booklet for the Georgia’s Colonial Coast Birding & Nature Festival when I notice him! I have a wonderful drip birdbath with bushes near by so the birds can drop from the top of my old live oak tree down to the myrtle tree to the bath. There sitting on the top of the drip was a drop dead gorgeous SCARLET TANAGER. I know in migration that they travel in flocks. There are times at some hot spots where they all over. Here I have been working to make my yard bird friendly. I was just rewarded with this special bird.
This is a good time to update you on the past weeks birding on Jekyll and around the Golden Island. Last Thursday morning we had White and Brown Pelican as well as at least three Wilson’s Plovers at the southend of Jekyll. In the afternoon having dropped off seed for the feeders at Tidelands I was driving back to Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Cottage in the historic district when I became fascinated by the line of vultures flying north. As I watched my day was made for a SWALLOW-TAILED KITE dripped into my sights. Naturally I pulled over to just watch this agile flyer for awhile.
Saturday, I was on St. Simons Island helping with the Glynn Art Spring Festival in the St. Simons village area. It was a beautiful clear morning with just the right chill in the air. Walking to see how the various artists were doing setting up I heard GRAY KINGBIRDS. They have returned for I heard from a friend that they were on Jekyll as well. Jekyll host at least two pairs of Gray Kingbirds every summer. That same day which was April 14 the PAINTED BUNTING males started showing up at feeders along the coast. Spring is in the air.
With Georgia’s wildlife on my mind
Yellow-throated Warbler
30 Turkey Vulture
Seemed to be moving North. Strings all along the Island
Mourning Dove
Tree Swallow
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Northern Cardinal

3 Little Blue Heron
10 Snowy Egret
1 Great Blue Heron
Great Egret
3 Green Heron
Red-winged Blackbird
Boat-tailed Grackle
1 Belted Kingfisher
2 Eurasian Collared-Dove
Mourning Dove
1 Loggerhead Shrike
Northern Mockingbird
European Starling
1 Northern Parula

100 Tree Swallow Really 100 plus
2 Little Blue Heron
5 Cattle Egret
1 Northern Harrier male
2 Common Ground Dove
2 White-eyed Vireo
Carolina Wren
1 Northern Parula
2 Savannah Sparrow
3 Eastern Towhee
Northern Cardinal
10 Common Grackle
3 Brown-headed Cowbird

6 American White Pelican
8 Brown Pelican
6 Blue-winged Teal
1 Snowy Egret
25 Sanderling
1 Black-bellied Plover

4-H WEST Southend area Jekyll
1 Double-crested Cormorant
15 Brown Pelican
2 Willet
3 Wilson’s Plover
8 Ring-billed Gull
2 Herring Gull
100 Laughing Gull
75 Royal Tern
10 Forster’s Tern
250 Black Skimmer
1 Chimney Swift

3 Fish Crow

2 Brown Pelican
2 Green Heron
1 Osprey
1 Cooper’s Hawk 5 Spotted Sandpiper
3 Belted Kingfisher
5 House Finch
6 Brown-headed Cowbird

1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
5 Blue Jay
2 White-eyed Vireo
Carolina Wren
4 Carolina Chickadee
4 White-throated Sparrow
6 Common Grackle

2 Pied-billed Grebe
1 Double-crested Cormorant
4 Snowy Egret
1 Green Heron
6 Yellow-crowned Night-Heron
8 Black-crowned Night-Heron
2 White Ibis
26 Wood Stork 14 nesting
1 Black Vulture
3 Osprey
1 Red-tailed Hawk
2 Red-bellied Woodpecker
3 White-eyed Vireo
Carolina Wren
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher 2 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Northern Parula
25 Yellow-rumped Warbler
Yellow-throated Warbler


15 Cedar Waxwing
1 Pine Warbler
1 Great-crested Flycatcher
1 Swallow-tailed Kite
Flying with vultures
3 Barn Swallow

1 Orchard Oriole Male
25 Semipalmated Plover
30 Western Sandpiper
20 Dunlin
50 Short-billed Dowitcher
14 Whimbrel
1 Greater Yellowlegs
10 Blue-winged Teal
1 Osprey
20 Willet
10 Black-bellied Plover

Sunday, April 8, 2007

Birders, birds and spring April 8, 2007

Today was cold and beautiful. The sky was so blue and the trees that fresh green of new leaves. For the last few days I have been hear a prairie warbler in my own small yard. It is a interesting bird here for I live in an older area of St. Simons Island with lots of oaks so why is there a prairie warbler sing here?
In the meantime I went over to Jekyll today. First stop was the Welcome Center where I met am older couple watching the birds. They were from Flynt River area in Michagan. They are birder photographs or at least he was. They have traveled a great deal in the US birding. In fact they have been coming to Jekyll for ten years to bird. I need to meet more of these folks. The problem with birders is that they come in birds quietly and leave. It is hard to count them.
The list that Marjorie Clark and I put out is starting to help keep count for birder like lists and will stop by to pick it up. Anybody out there got some other ideas to help us count?
I move on to the Glory Boardwalk near the soccer field. The beach was quiet but there were a pair of Wilson's plover near the first nesting plover signs.
Oh yes before I forget on the way out to the beach I had two Eastern Kingbirds.
Good birding

Birding on April 5, 2007

April 5, 2007 Jekyll Island Birding

The day started surprising cold. The few days before it had been unseasonably warm. The blood thinned preparing me for the hot steamy days of summer but this cold front was a shook to the system. Well also I should have grabbed my coat. But it was in the closet. The tide was too right not to go shore birding. The strong west caught us off we braved that cold wind. The first stop was the Welcome Center and there were the normal cast of character out there. These were willets, dowitchers, westerns, dunlins, and black-bellied plovers but none of these really close to watch so we moved on quickly. I couldn’t help myself before we could go out to the south end I wanted/needed to look for our resident Loggerhead Shrike. It was there sitting atop the straggly trees just south of the convention center. These straggly islands of thorny oaks are home to a pair of shrikes. I pulled the van in and started to get out and the bird flew off! "Man, where are you going!" I muttered. It is my normal reaction when the bird I want to see flies off. I knew he would return so we waited. Patience is an important trait in birding. Sure enough we were rewarded when it came back with a big fat juice bug. For the first time in my life I watched as it impaled the bug on one of the many thorns. Each one of us got to watch as it tore at breakfast. Now that was worth the stop.
We moved on to the area at the corner of St. Andrews and Macy Lane. This is the area of Jekyll I call bird corner for it just seems to have a good variety of birds. The birds were in there. We got great looks at northern parula, blue-gray gnatcatchers. We listened to Yellow-throated Vireo, white-eyed vireo, and a surprise bird a hooded warbler. Boosted by the little birds we hit the beach. There were not a lot of shorebirds but the gulls and terns were out in force. There were a lot of herring gulls. It has been a long time since I’ve seen that many herring gulls. I did hear one Wilson’s plover. Could it be they were pulling back into the dunes to nest already? Time will tell.
I lead my group east inching up on the other large group of gulls, terns and a few shorebirds. I think the special bird of the day was the piping plover who was skulking along under the “Stay Back, Wilson’s Plover Nesting Area” sign. These are just beautiful little birds. We were also treated to ruddy turnstones, dunlins, sanderlings, least sandpipers and one western sandpiper. The bonus was the western was walking along near the dunlin so everyone got a chance to compare. As we turned to walk back to the van, we were entertained by a pod of dolphins fishing or something. At one point they were churning up the water as one jumped totally out of the water. WOW! The group of six of us was stringing back I was still looking when a pair of buoyant gulls caught my eye. The Bonaparte’s gulls were so delicate I couldn’t let the group miss them so I called them back.
We had spent almost all the morning on the south end. There wasn’t much time left so I made a hard decision to leave off the bird sanctuary in the campground. We went finished the morning watching and counting the wood storks. There were twenty-six of them. There were fourteen nests in some state of being build. A couple of the nest had wood storks sitting tight. The wood storks were not the only ones nesting. Great Egrets, snowy egrets, and Anhingas were all flitting and counting and carrying sticks. I thought we were going to miss the yellow-crowned night-herons but they were at the last look out over the lake. Let’s hope they nest as well.
List of the birds seen is below.
Good Birding!
Mourning Dove
Boat-tailed Grackle
Northern Mockingbird
Northern Cardinal
Turkey Vulture

2 White Ibis
1 Cooper’s Hawk
2 Bald Eagle
2 Clapper Rail
1 Marsh Wren
10 Yellow-rumped Warbler
Red-winged Blackbird Not counted
3 Tricolored Heron
3 Little Blue Heron
4 Great Egret
20 Willet
10 Short-billed Dowitcher
100 Western Sandpiper Est. count
10 Dunlin
15 Black-bellied Plover
3 Fish Crow
1 Marsh Wren

10 Eurasian Collared-Dove
3 Blue Jay
5 Fish Crow
1 Loggerhead Shrike
15 Cedar Waxwing
2 Brown Thrasher
1 European Starling
2 House Sparrow
2 House Finch
1 Northern Parula

400 Tree Swallow

3 Barn Swallow
1 Chimney Swift
3 Fish Crow
1 White-eyed Vireo
1 Yellow-throated Vireo
2 Carolina Wren
4 Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
3 Northern Parula
1 Hooded Warbler
3 White-throated Sparrow
1 Eastern Towhee Female
3 Brown-headed Cowbird
20 Brown Pelican
6 Sanderling
1 Wilson’s Plover
6 Ring-billed Gull
30 Herring Gull
2 Bonaparte’s Gull
100 Laughing Gull
50 Royal Tern Est. count
40 Forster’s Tern

3 Willet
4 Ruddy Turnstone
1 Western Sandpiper
5 Least Sandpiper
5 Dunlin
3 Black-bellied Plover
1 Piping Plover
10 Herring Gull
50 Laughing Gull
50 Royal Tern Est. count
35 Forster’s Tern
12 Black Skimmer
1 Tricolored Heron
1 Little Blue Heron
1 Osprey
1 Merlin
3 House Finch
3 Brown-headed Cowbird

1 Pied-billed Grebe
100 Double-crested Cormorant
14 Anhinga
8 Snowy Egret
1 Great Blue Heron
16 Great Egret Nesting
8 Yellow-crowned Night Heron
2 Black-crowned Night Heron
26 Wood Stork 14 Nests
1 Red-bellied Woodpecker
1 Pileated Woodpecker
1 White-eyed Vireo
1 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
1 Carolina Chickadee
2 Northern Parula
2 Pine Warbler

After formal Ramble
1 Great Crested Flycatcher

1 Baltimore Oriole
Seen by Jim & Nancy Reed 04/003/07
1 Least Tern
Seen by John Galvani 04/01/07