Date: 10/27/18 7:02 pm
From: Peter Stangel <peter...>
Subject: Awesome Birding - Huntington Beach State Park, SC
With these nice winds, I suspect everyone had good birding today. Huntington Beach State Park was certainly rockin'.

The day started with several Gray Catbirds and small flocks of migrating Blue Jays. A couple hundred Tree Swallows hung overhead, suspended in the stiff winds. Five Bald Eagles were in view simultaneously.

Then it got interesting. A quarter mile short of the north beach parking lot, where the pine mortality has created an open space on the main road, the magic started. A bright green Tennessee Warbler was feeding at eye level in a cedar. Several Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers materialized. A Blackpoll Warbler was foraging in low shrubs, providing nice views of yellow feet. A Red-breasted Nuthatch appeared. An adult male Scarlet Tanager, with a greenish-yellow body and highly contrasting jet black wings, was in view for 5 minutes, foraging in low branches. A Cape May Warbler popped up. Then a female Black-throated Blue Warbler came into view. A Magnolia Warbler appeared. An Eastern Phoebe flicked its tail. A Yellow-bellied Sapsucker rocketed by. And then a flock of about 35 White Pelicans appeared overhead. To top it all off, Frank Lawkins showed up!

Birding was so good I decide to walk up to the jetty. There was a modest seabird migration: a few skeins of Black Scoters, including one flock of >100 birds; a few Red-throated Loons winging by; and several flocks of south-bound Double-crested Cormorants.

The Least Tern nesting area had a couple hundred roosting Dunlin and maybe 75 Semi-palmated Plovers. Walking back on the dune path I flushed a couple sparrows into a cedar. One was a beautiful, immature Clay-colored and the other a Field. There was an empty Modelo can in the path and I stuck it on the end of a branch in the sparrow tree to help others find these birds. You can't miss it. Back on the beach, there were six Red Knots foraging at waters' edge.

After a siesta, my wife and I walked the beach down to the end of south Litchfield. On the sandbars between Litchfield and Pawley's there were dozens of Black Skimmers and numerous Royal, Caspian, Sandwich, and Forster's Terns. There were small rafts of Black Scoters a couple hundred yards offshore. Through 8.5X binoculars you could tell they were blackish ducks, but not much more. Then, just before sunset, the sun burst forth. The breakers illuminated like florescent bulbs. The sun hit the yellow-orange knobs on the bills of the male scoters and they looked like patches of pumpkins on the ocean. Hundreds of Laughing Gulls winged by in small flocks, headed toward the sandbars. The sky will filled with clouds of multiple textures, shapes and colors.

How blessed are we to be birders??

Peter Stangel, Aiken, SC
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