Date: 1/10/19 4:53 pm
From: Mac Williams (via carolinabirds Mailing List) <carolinabirds...>
Subject: Lee County (SC) airport birding & leucistic northern harrier

I have been actively trying to identify and submit new eBird hotspots in
the less-birded counties of the Pee Dee (Chesterfield, Darlington, Lee,
Marlboro, Florence, Dillon, Marion), so this morning I was out and about
looking for a new spot near Bishopville.

Steve Patterson has shown me the great birds to be found at regional,
county, and city airports, so I decided to go to the Lee County Airport
(Butters Field) in Bishopville and see what their rules are for birding

I met the director, a Mr. George Roberts (803-229-2679), and he explained
that anyone can bird as follows:

*1. * If there is someone in the office, please check in to let them know
you'll be there, as a courtesy. However, the airport is not always
staffed. If no one is there, you may still bird.
*2. *You may go anywhere on the tarmac and ramp, but you cannot step on
any asphalt on the runway--ever, or the part of the ramp after the very
large and thick double yellow lines (link to Google Maps showing the lines
<>). If there is something interesting on
the other side of the runway, you'll have to walk around. He said stepping
onto the runway for any reason is prohibited.
*3.* We are allowed to traverse all grassy areas, the length of the
field--in either direction. Additionally, we may enter the leased
"approach" land at the NE end of the runway, consisting of high grass. (link
showing the "approach" <>)
*4. * If a plane comes in to land, please move as far away from the runway
as you can so as not to startle or distract the pilot.
*5.* The Lee County Animal Shelter abuts the airport. If you approach
that area of the complex, and the dogs begin to bark and get upset, please
move to a different area to bird.

Good things to know:
A. There is a restroom in the airport office.
B. Mr. Roberts says that there are frequently wild turkeys at the airport,
and that they need to check and shoo them away if a plane is going to land.
C. Mr. Roberts served in the military, stationed on a tiny island near
Attu, Alaska for over a year, and he enjoyed telling me about the birds he
saw there. I believe that he would especially enjoy conversations with any
birders who have been to the Aleutians or who have any interest in aviation.
D. There are some artesian springs along the edge of the runway, so much
of the ground is very soggy. I'd recommend wearing boots if it has rained

As for the birding, I walked 1.67 miles in 2 hrs 22mins, and I found 31
different species. Here's my list in case you're interested

The highlight was a mostly leucistic Northern Harrier patrolling the south
end of the runway. It appeared to be buffy white everywhere except the
tips of the wings--over and under--and for some bands on either side of the
white spot on the tail. I don't normally bird with a camera because it's
not a good camera and I'm not a good photographer, so I can't provide
photos. But, if anyone decides to make a visit, you might get lucky and
see it again.

I tried to embed html links in the email to avoid the Duke server's
security thing for links. If I didn't do it right, I apologize for the
long url repackaging.

While lengthy, I hope that this email is an appropriate use of this


Mac Williams, PhD
Associate Professor of Spanish
Coker College
300 E. College Ave
Hartsville, SC 29550
843-383-8117 (office)
843-991-3879 (cell)

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