Monday, May 2, 2016

Migratory Dolphin return off S.C. Coast

Good Times on May 2, 2016 thanks to Capt. Ben Polk
An early spring is giving way to an early dolphin bite off the S.C. coast with vast schools of small to medium-sized dolphinfish in the offshore waters. The bite really turned on in late April, and has continued with a string of good fishing weather days too, excluding Sunday May 1 when the ocean kicked up 6-foot seas, keeping the fleet in port.

Lady Angler Sherry Watford shows off her May 2 mahi
The last day of April saw three offshore tournaments send legions of saltwater anglers into the deep blue sea looking for some green dolphinfish. The Marina at Edisto Beach hosted the 3rd annual Dolphin Slam, while Bohicket Marina held a mahi tourney and Georgetown held a meatfish event. All three tourneys saw record numbers of boats participating and they all enjoyed good fishing because the migratory dolphin are thick right now! Of course where there are mahi, the chance of encountering a blue marlin in May goes up.

To view past blog entries on Migratory dolphin off S.C. click 20142013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009 - 2007

Sunday, May 1, 2016

Birding Journal Observations - March / April 2016

Cooper's Hawk dining on a dove I saw it catch
A third wet winter in a row changed into an early spring by Mid-March, with rainfall tapering off quickly. However, nighttime temps remained cool until later in April, delaying spring migratory songbirds until about the middle of April. But the last few weeks of April 2016 have seen a bonanza of migratory bird activity, and it should continue into the month of May. At a recent meeting of Kershaw County landowners, I told them to keep their eyes peeled for avian visitors.

So far I would call the 2016 migration as being pretty normal based on my past eight years of blog links and observations. Which translates into that I have seen the birds I expected to see, but I haven't been surprised by any unusual or once-in-a-lifetime sightings. Long-range weather forecasting shows a return to warmer and drier climactic conditions and this may account for this year's normal pattern of migration. But Spring still is the best time to bird watch, with a variety of colorful feathers to view and animated calls to hear, which have absent for the landscape for 6 months or more.

Some of the first sightings for migratory species in 2016 include:
March 1 - yellow-rumped warbler
March 4 - pine siskin
March 16 - brown-headed nuthatch
March 21 - Northern parula warbler, ruby-throated hummingbird
April 5 - summer tanager, swallow-tailed kite
April 11 -  blue grosbeak
April 27 - Mississippi kite, yellow-billed cuckoo, yellow-throated warbler, blue-gray gnatcatcher and Indigo Bunting
April 29 - orchard oriole

Other birding observations from March / April 2016 include tufted titmouse, goldfinch, chipping sparrow, house finch, cardinal, Carolina chickadee, pine warbler, downy woodpecker, yellow-bellied sapsucker, red-bellied woodpecker, blue bird, white-breasted nuthatch, brown-headed cowbird, dove, brown thrasher, mockingbird, white-throated sparrow, cormorant, Carolina wren, red-tailed hawk, kestrel, barn swallow, wood duck, red-headed woodpecker, blue jay, pileated woodpecker, killdeer, Canada goose and grey catbird.

To view the most recent birding journal Observations click on January / February 2016

To view past Birding Journal Observations from March / April click 20152014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009

Wednesday, April 27, 2016

Pasture Grazing Workshop educates about Soil and Water

Rainfall simulator shows water runoff results
A coalition of organizations came together in the Piedmont on April 22 in order to discuss conservation practices for livestock grazing pastures. The stated purpose to lower feed bills for livestock by increasing forage production drew a large crowd of landowners. Other helpful topics benefitting anyone with an interest in their soil quality and how to make their grass grown better came in to the picture as the discussion progressed, just like a free-grazing herd on the move.

2016 Pasture Field Day host
Most of the organizations involved are based in S.C. with the exception of the National Grazing Land Coalition, found on the Internet at, which sent a representative from Texas to the meeting. The Greenville County Soil and Water Conservation District hosted the meeting, in conjunction with the S.C. Forage and Grazing Lands Coalition. The S.C. Cattleman’s Foundation signed on to underwrite the barbecue lunch for everyone, since the workshop raises interest about this important process in the beef industry.

The most informative part of the workshop regarding soil health came in the form of a rainfall simulator test. A rotating shower nozzle set up over four test plots of soil released something close to a 3-inch rainfall, and a row of catch basins measured the amount of that water that ran off the land. If the water runs off, it does not benefit the grass growing there, or the livestock seeking nutrition. Keeping records of rainfall amounts and tracking vegetation production with a ruler are just two examples of the common practices that can help you find the keys to unlock optimal pasture land performance.

To view the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries on Agribusiness click on 2016 Flooding - Tree Farm Lobby Day - Clemson Extension - Thanksgiving Harvest - Tree Farm Changes - Benton's Peanuts - Fresh On The Menu

Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Report - 4/26/2016

Fishing Report for the Coastal Lowcountry of South Carolina:
April 30th is the 3rd Dolphin Slam !!
Inshore Report: Scott Hammond at Haddrell's Point West hints that the spring has sprung wide open offering full tilt fishing for those with saltwater fever. Large trout are being found in solid numbers fishing with live baits or Trout Tricks around creek mouths and shell rakes in 3 to 10-feet of water. Sheepshead are still being caught in great numbers on the nearshore reefs and the jetties using fiddler crabs and sand fleas for bait. Redfish have begun to transition into a summer pattern, breaking out of larger schools and populating every dock in sight, and even pushing into the grass during moon tides. Large bull reds are showing up in solid numbers around the jetties and grillage using chuck mullet or blue crab, and the bonnethead sharks are also a good bet to make your drag scream. Jack Crevalle have been spotted in the nearshore waters lately too. For all the latest seminar information visit the Internet at Haddrell's Point.

Offshore Report: Scott says the time is NOW! For those who enjoy the offshore trolling, do not wait a day longer!! Great reports of dolphin are already flooding into the store, plus the blackfin tuna are showing up in strong numbers. This is a wonderful time of year to put some fresh fish flesh on the table with the mahi eating skirted ballyhoo and the tuna chasing cedar plugs. Some wahoo are still being found along the ledge, and the lure of choice is the YoZuri Bonita. The first blue marlin of the year have been caught and released within the last week, so think BIG when out in the Deep Blue!

To view past Lowcountry Saltwater Fishing Reports click here.

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Kershaw County Forest Landowners - Spring Meeting Speaker

Betty Slade, Speaker Jeff Dennis and Rep. Funderburk
Explaining about my Polyphemous Moth photo
The Spring Meeting of the Kershaw Country Forest Landowners Association was held in downtown Camden on Monday April 18. I was asked to be their featured speaker to share my photos and knowledge of Forestry and Wildlife, and to promote my work with LowcountryOutdoors. I have been active in the Tree Farm system and it was at the 2016 S.C. Tree Farm Lobby Day that Mrs. Betty Slade asked me to visit with the Kershaw County landowners. I also was pleased to learn that my friend S.C. Representative Laurie Slade Funderburk, Betty's daughter, was a fellow private landowner who can speak up for Tree Farmers in the S.C. General Assembly.

Mature pine woods are always a good topic for discussion
The 7 p.m. meeting began with a covered dish supper to feed the 35 folks in attendance, ranging from 23-years old and up. Sliced ham, macaroni and cheese, butter beans, sweet potato and a biscuit were washed down with sweet tea and water. After a blessing of the food, I was asked to go through the line first so that I could begin speaking when ready. Thanks to Rep. Funderburk for the kind words during her introduction, and for taking the time to be present, since this was not her only engagement of the night.

Thanks for the Intro Laurie!
My slideshow began with several wildlife-oriented slides in order to ask the audience to try and identify the critters. As we moved through the forestry-related images, the audience participation began coming up with a larger percentage of the correct answers. So my informal conclusion would be that this group really knows about pine tree thinning, hardwood tree clearcutting, site-preparation for re-planting, and also about prescribed fire. As for the wildlife, I urged them to keep a sharp eye out every day around the beginning of May looking for migratory songbirds and other wildlife sightings.

A question and answer period raised questions that continue to perplex private landowners. How do you utilize prescribed fire to enhance your acreage? Conversely, How do you learn to not be wary of any fire at all on the landscape. My answer was that I had studied to become a Certified prescribed Fire Manager and then spent years on the landscape practicing with active fire, and taken field trips to see successful burning results. Another popular question regarding wildlife was about the status of quail populations. My answer involved that I believe that quail can still rebound, and that attending classes focusing on wildlife management and being a naturalist can give insight on these subjects.

To view past blog entries on landowner meetings click ACE BasinS.C. Prescribed Fire CouncilSavannah River PreserveHerbicide - Mayfield Garden Club

To view past blog entries on wildlife click on Field Notes - Birding Journal Observations

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

2016 RBC Heritage at Harbour Town - Grace Wins, Donald Second

Luke Donald putting on the 17th green
When the PGA Tour visits the Harbour Town golf links on Hilton Head, the players, patrons and TV audience enjoy the scenic beauty of the Lowcountry. The pressure of The Masters is followed by the lighter-atmosphere at the RBC Heritage, and that one-two combination has been proven for many years. This year’s tourney was played in very windy conditions and Donald led most of the way, until Sunday afternoon when South African Branden Grace shot 5-under par to claim his first PGA Tour title victory.

The 18th Hole at Harbour Town 
But Donald’s history at The RBC Heritage deserves closer examination since his 2016 finish isn’t his only second place finish. Donald also finished in second place in 2014 and 2011 during memorable losses against Brandt Snedeker and Matt Kuchar. Donald has also finished in third place at the RBC Heritage three times and this former World Number One golfer must be coming due for a big win at Harbour Town in the future. But for now, Donald has raked in enough earnings all-time at the RBC Heritage to surpass five-time champ Davis Love III.

Credit Jason Day for being friendly to the media
While current sensation Jordan Spieth did not play the RBC Heritage in 2016, the present Number One golfer in the world did return to Hilton Head. Australia’s Jason Day played an early round of golf on Wednesday with RBC officials and then came to the media tent where he gave a lengthy and informative press conference. Day has earned many fans because of his relentless drive to win, but also for his demeanor on and off the course. 
To read the feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past blog entries for the RBC Heritage click on 20152014 - 2013

Can't be there in person? Try VR.
To view past blog entries from The Masters click on 2015 - 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2009