Friday, June 26, 2009

Drawing in the evenings

I am been working on a couple of drawings in the evenings. Here is one. It is a graphite and pastel drawing of a Great Egret at the Amphitheater on Jekyll Island.

I have also started another one of magnolias. They are both drawn on 100% blue rag paper.

Thursday's ramble

Man, did we luck out Thursday. I did a bird ramble with Jean from Bucks Co PA and her niece Charlie. The day stayed overcast. We were able to enjoy the birds without passing out from the heat. The first birds to greet us were the Gray Kingbirds at the shopping center. They were being territorial. Could they be nesting again? Keep your fingers crossed.

We were able to find a few shorebirds, Black-bellied Plover, Short-billed Dowitcher, and one Semipalmated Sandpiper. Of course, the most common shorebirds were the Willets. They were in marsh and on the beach. Everywhere we went we heard their calls.

Since I last visited the south end of Jekyll, the tides have been very high. The water was pushed into the primary dunes changing the look of the beach. I was concerned for the Wilson’s Plovers but they were fine. I found all three young one. You can’t call them chicks for they look like they can fly.

This is the male keep an eye on us.

Here is the youngster watching as well.

As we walked back to the van, we enjoyed a few wildflowers.
Aren't these little Sea Pinks pretty?

The morning glories were in full splendor.

We finished the morning at the Amphitheater. There were a few young Wood Stork youngsters hanging out high in the pines.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Quiet time

It does get quiet this time of year. The birds are just about finished nesting. It has been a hard season. About the time, the chicks hatched, it rained. It rain hard for several days. One place I watch these storks nest is an dead pine tree. There were 11 nests of Wood Storks there before the rain only two nest survived.

However, these birds are resilient. Here is a group at the end of the day.

We keep looking for first nest of Roseate Spoonbill but no one has reported any so far. Never the less they are all over this year.
Here is a new roost at Overlook Park in Brunswick on the mainland. I get a chance to sit and watch them for there is a very long a stop light right there at the end of Gloucester Street. Not a bad way to spend a few minutes.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Reddish Egrets

Last night I did a SEANET survey. This is better know as long walks on the beach looking for dead stuff. Fortunately, I did not find any dead birds but I did see Reddish Egrets dancing in the surf. These birds are becoming more common especially in the summer. We had one on Jekyll as well. They are fascinating to watch as the twirl and jump in the surf.

I did find this dead ray. Sad to see but still fascinating to know that right out there in the ocean there is a whole new world.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Three pairs of Wilson's Plovers

Yesterday I told you about Wilson's Plovers nesting on Jekyll's south end. I forgot to say that I found three pairs. Each pair was taking care of one chick. They are so much fun to watch. Here they are chilling on the beach.

Sunday, June 14, 2009

Babies on the Beach 2009

One of the many things I do is watch the Wilson’s Plovers on Jekyll’s southend. Every year for the past ten years I have watched the Wilson’s Plovers come in and setup house keeping. This year looked pretty bleak. In May, there appeared to be only one pair. But the Wilson’s nest in the inter dunes on Jekyll. They don’t bring the chicks out to the exposed beach until the chicks are larger. I noticed this behavior early on but did not connect the importance of this to the survival to the birds.

(Wilson's Plover in nesting area)

The last two years I have received a small grant from Coastal Georgia Audubon Society (CGAS) to monitor these birds. Because I have been able to watch these birds more closely, I am beginning to see some of the connection to the wide sandy inter dune system of the south end of Jekyll and how these birds use them. I will admit I still have more questions than answers but that is the reason for studying these birds. If you want to help me you can help by giving a small donation to Coastal Georgia Audubon Society put down for plover research. In the meantime look at the birds I have found.

This is a Willet sitting with a female Wilson's Plover and her chick
One of the chicks on the exposed beach

One encounter I watched was the interaction between a Fish Crow and a Wilson’s Plover family. It was like watching a fire drill. The adult plover spotted the crow and let out a loud “wheat” call. The chick ran. It ducked into the thick dune grass. The adult flew away from the area. When the crow kept flying toward the grasses where the chick was hiding, the adult turned and attacks the crow. The crow flew off. The adults landed and watched.

Here is the male Wilson's Plover after the encounted with the crow. The chick is in that grass behind him. You can not see it. Fascinating, but more needs to be done to understand how we can share the beach with these birds.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

SEANET surveys begin

Eek! sorry about being absent. It is a crazy time. We are pulling together all the plans for the Georgia's Colonial Coast Birding and Nature Festival. The booklet will go to the printers in just a few weeks. Well anyway, I have been busy doing a breeding bird survey down in Camden County and plover surveys up here on Jekyll Island. Strong storms a couple of weeks ago really did some damage to the nesting Wood Storks and Wilson's Plovers. Sad to see but this is nature's way of balancing.
Wood Storks in happier times before the storms.

June 2, 2009 Georgia Graves and I met at Gould Inlet on East Beach, St. Simons Island. This is going to be the site where we will be doing regular SEANET surveys. We met at about two hours after high tide. Georgia knows this beach better than I do so I listened to her advice. Yes, I live on St. Simons about two miles away from this area but it is a people beach. I used to walk my dog on leash here. What stopped me was Hart, my Australian Shepherd, was not a friendly dog. A lot of the dogs on this beach were running loose. These dogs often would run right up to him. I just gave up coming. Now that is exactly why I volunteered to do this survey here.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center and Jekyll 4-H are covering the beach on Jekyll. Jekyll beaches are a good balance of people and birds. Yes, there are dogs that run the beach but there are eleven miles of beaches on Jekyll. There are only about three or four miles on St. Simons. It will be interesting to compare the two beaches. Also there are other Georgia beaches that are a lot less public that are going to be covered in this SEANET program. When it all comes together, will it give us a picture of how people and domesticated animals effect the birds?

I enjoy questions like this. Comparing the beaches will give clues to find an answer.

This East Beach area is now defined. Here is what it looks like:

This is looking toward the southeast from the old coastguard station

This is in the same spot just turned around and heading north. It is the start of our survey

This is mid survey area looking northwest over the dunes.

This photo was taken from the same spot but looking northeast

You can see this is a very wide beach at low tide. We will try to do this survey when the tide is high and falling. There exposed beach will be narrower and easier to survey.
It will be fun!