Sunday, April 8, 2007

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

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