Roger Smith and SC DNRs shorebird guru Felicia Sanders joined me today for a shorebird survey at the Yawkey Wildlife Center (restricted access).
The 3.5 inches of rain they received yesterday morning did not help! The water levels in all the impoundments had risen significantly - especially those that get a lot of runoff from uplands. So shorebird numbers and variety were significantly reduced. Wading bird numbers were still high but down as well from the previous week. And light rain all morning today made for challenging survey conditions. But we still enjoyed some nice birding.
We only had one Wilson's Phalarope still present from the previous week's 19 individuals. No sign of the Red-necked Phalaropes (hardly a surprise). And for example we went from 100+ Stilt Sandpipers down to about 60. American Avocet numbers were also greatly reduced - I suspect they moved out to the bay and are still in the area. Black-necked Stilt numbers also crashed - they may already be heading south. We had about the same number of Spotted Sandpipers and more Solitaries. No Pectorals this week and zero Dunlin again like last week. Shorebird numbers overall were in the hundreds rather than thousands.
We did have some large wading bird concentrations and saw a few dozen Roseate Spoonbills. Also a good flock of American White Pelicans.
One of the neatest sightings was an adult Purple Gallinule with pretty young chicks - they must have been a very late brood. I am used to seeing new black fuzzy chicks starting around the 4th of July. So I expect we will be seeing immature Purple Gallinules there well into the fall before they head south.
At one point on South Island we had two Clapper Rails and one King Rail cavorting in front of us on a dike with semi-tall grass and freshwater puddles. Clapper Rails love bathing in freshwater puddles when they can find them, to desalinate their feathers (much like gulls like to bathe in fresh water occasionally).
There were still some Black Terns and Least Terns around - though less than last week. We also saw our first Caspian Tern of the "fall". Only a couple of Gull-billed Terns were present.
We also had some mother Wild Turkeys and their class of "middle school" poults congregating in a field.