Thursday, July 19, 2018

Shoring Up Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary for SC Coastal Birds

Pelicans flying at dusk to a safe spot for the night
Going out in the boat, or travelling to the beach, are both popular things to do in summer. It’s a safe bet that watching a pelican fly by or perform an aerial dive into the water is a part of that experience that most folks take for granted. Did you know that South Carolina is home base for a whopping 38-percent of all the nesting brown pelicans on the East Coast. An ambitious plan addressing coastal bird conservation plans to raise $2 million dollars, and partner with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers dredging project in 2019, to fully restore Crab Bank for the sake of nesting birds.

SCDNR's Felicia Sanders speaking to the
Seabrok Island Birders about Deveaux Bank
 Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary is owned by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources, and is located in Charleston Harbor at the mouth of Shem Creek. The nesting habitat there suffered serious erosion from Hurricane Irma in 2017, and is subject to continuous wave action form wind, tide and boats. Crab Bank is listed as an Important Bird Area by Audubon, and used to be home to approximately 5000 nests for a wide range of coastal birds. Only a sliver of Crab Bank remains today, and it is much too small to provide and nesting cover presently.

“If renourished, Crab Bank can produce hundreds of thousands of young birds over the next fifty years,” said Felicia Sanders, an SCDNR wildlife biologist. “This is also a place where humans can get close enough in boats and kayaks to learn about the birds without disturbing them.” Coastal tourism brings lots of visitors hoping to see wildlife, but in the case of restoring Crab Bank, they can witness conservation in action. Coastal birds are declining in number over the past 50 years due to habitat loss, human disturbance and sea level rise, explaining the emphasis being put on the Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuary.

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

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

2018 Saluda Coon Dog Day

Coon hound from Backwoods Rescue leads off the parade
The Lowcountry saw a record amount of rainfall in May, and the weather in Polk County, North Carolina has seen a similar pattern this summer. The annual celebration of coon dog hunting traditions in this small mountain town just off I-26 takes place around July 4th annually. A slight chance of rain on Saturday July 7 turned into a deluge that cleared all the visitors from the streets for several hours during the middle of the day. The morning parade and the evening square dance were spared from the damp weather, giving coon enthusiasts plenty of reasons to recall the 55th Coon Dog Day as one to remember.
Antique tractors are a fan favorite!
The morning of Coon Dog Day starts with a pancake breakfast fundraiser at 7 a.m. for the local Masonic lodge. At 8 a.m. the Coon Dog Day 5K Race gets underway, leaving from downtown and running up and down the hilly neighborhoods surrounding Saluda. The runners reported high humidity that morning despite a forecast for cooler temperatures, an observation that proved accurate when the skies opened up just a few hours later. The Coon Dog Day parade begins at 11 a.m. and is a friendly and fun event that welcomes plenty of families from nearby communities. 

The traditions of Saluda’s Coon Dog Day have already stood the test of time, raising awareness about the outdoors lifestyle, and providing a safe place for folks to gather. The street vendors may have seen a decrease in revenue in 2018 due to the rain, but the families and friends that retreated to the porches of Saluda to ride out the storm, will no doubt be strengthened by their time spent together in the mountains.
Coon Dog Day 5K racing is all uphill

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

To view past blog entries from Coon Dog Days click on 2016 - 2013 - 2012 

To view past blog entries from Saluda click on Arts Festival -  Nature Notes - Green River barbecue - Green River Games - Saluda Tailgate Market

To view past entries from the Grand American and Coon Fest click 2018 - 20172016 - 2015- 2014 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010

Elvis impersonator singing despite the rain!!

Thursday, July 5, 2018

2018 Thirsty Whale Tours with Edisto’s Captain Moose

The Van Dort Family and Capt. Jim Moose
aboard the Thirsty Whale
Going for a boat ride out of the marina at Edisto Beach is a little easier this summer, with the addition of two charter boats. The Thirsty Fish boat takes out fishing charters and the larger Thirsty Whale boat makes a variety of boating excursions looking for wildlife and making memories. Weekend sunset tours are always ready for booking, or plan ahead for alligator sighting trips or maybe take a longer Edisto river cruise to beat the summer heat.

The odds of sighting a whale in St. Helena Sound may be slim but customers riding along with Captain Moose can expect entertaining dialogue no matter what. A recent sunset boat ride out of the marina took us up Bailey Creek and eventually back down Big Bay Creek, with Capt. Jim Moose showing his wealth of local knowledge by sharing a different observation around every bend in the creek. The Thirsty Whale is a 28-foot Carolina Skiff equipped with a Yamaha 150-horsepower four-stroke engine, with comfortable seating for a dozen passengers. Twin Bimini tops provide shaded seating and safety rails run around the entire boat.
Two dolphins in the creek at sunset on June 22

“I’ve had a boat charter license for 20 years, and I take a business approach to charters,” said Capt. Moose. “I like to start on time so that everyone begins on the same page, and after that I try and do the best job I can, like any other day at work. We expect visitors during the summer months, and I have had guests on board from California, New York and the Midwest. But we are also seeing our return customers growing year round, which is the lifeblood of a charter Captain.” The Thirsty Whale tours also feature Captain Cookie Boykin on certain trips, a retired game warden with a lifetime of experiences on the water.

To read the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Colletonian

To view past blog entries from 2017 at Edisto click on Holiday Business After Hours - EIOLT Oyster Roast - Billfish Tourney - Bingo - Tomato OpenI Love Edisto Auction - Jim Bost Memorial - Shark Tourney

To view past blog entries from 2016 at Edisto click on Serpentarium - Jim Bost Memorial - Dolphin Slam - Cobia Tourney - Spring Shorebird Synergy - Bovine Bones on Beach - Edisto River book  

Monday, July 2, 2018

2018 Birding Journal Observations - May / June

Magnificent Frigatebird overhead on May 28
May and June saw the return of hot and tropical weather, with T.S. Alberto brushing the Lowcountry during the Memorial Day holiday. Record rainfall in May means no drought status for the first time in two years. Flowers and insects enjoy these warmer conditions and hence backyards birds are seen a little less at feeders, with the exception of peak feeding times. Fresh water in bird baths can be a powerful attractor during a three-day stretch of hot and dry weather.

On May 28 I saw a Magnificent Frigatebird flying between Seabrook Island and Deveaux Bank the morning after tropical weather pushed through overnight.
On June 1 I saw my first swallow-tailed kite of the 2018 season in Colleton County.

Other birding observations from May / June 2018 include painted bunting, ruby-throated hummingbird, cardinal, dove, downy woodpecker, summer tanager, brown-headed cowbird, brown thrasher, Carolina chickadee, blue grosbeak, blue jay, great-crested flycatcher, red-bellied woodpecker, red-headed woodpecker, white-breasted nuthatch, towhee, bluebird and tufted titmouse.

To view past Birding Journal Observations from May / June click on 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009

To view the latest Birding Journal Observation click on May / June 2018.

To view Field Notes and Photos click on February 2018December 2017 - September 2017 - January 2017December 2016 - June 2016 - February 2016December 2015 - October 2015 - September 2015 - August 2015 - July 2015 - June 2015 - February 2105 - October 2014  September 2014 - August 2014 - June 2014 - March 2012 - February 2012 - October 2011 - September 2011  

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

2018 I Love Edisto Auction - Edisto Island Open Land Trust

An army of volunteers helps on EIOLT auction night!
Live Auction Item - Nice!!
The Edisto Island Open Land Trust continues to grow each year with a rising tide of programs that benefit the community such as public lectures and young naturalist training. Many members of the land trust are local landowners that have already conserved private properties, but the organization continues to add members and expand their reach. The sold out I Love Edisto party and auction on June 23 is about fundraising efforts that protect both tracts of land and historical structures. Another opportunity to join in the fun and support conservation comes November 11 during the EIOLT annual oyster roast.

EIOLT Director John Girault spoke from the stage to thank the Town of Edisto Beach for their help in securing the Edisto Civic Center. Edisto Mayor Jane Darby is just one of the longtime volunteers for the I Love Edisto auction. “EIOLT works to protect Edisto Island so that future generations can enjoy this beautiful place,” said Darby. “I enjoy working each of their events because I know that I am contributing in some small way to their preservation mission.” This same sentiment resonates with many of the regular EIOLT supporters.

Salt marsh Society Members
Brian and Aleta Riesberg
VIP's Kirby Tupper and Wendy Griffin
A birding trip to a local rookery in ColletonCounty, is the type of item that can only be found at this EIOLT event. A sculpture of an American Oystercatcher by a master woodcarver on the auction drives home the message of habitat protection. A handmade potting bench, shooting lessons, cordless yardwork equipment, and a week’s stay at a mountain cottage are just a few more of the items that drove the bidding up. A focus on the Hutchinson House project provided bidders a chance to fund a safe viewing area. It’s exciting to think about how preserving the past, and protecting precious natural resources, is uniting many voices to join the chorus of conservation at the Edisto Island Open Land Trust.

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

To view a past blog entries about EIOLT click 2018 Coastal Geology Lecture - 2017 Oyster Roast 2017 Lowcountry Landscape Lecture with Richard Porcher - 2017 I Love Edisto Auction2017 Tomato Open - 2016 Oyster Roast - 2014 Oyster Roast 2014 Spring Birding - 2013 Oyster Roast - 2012 ACE Basin Mtg. - 2009 Spring Birding with Patrick McMillan

To view past blog about the Edisto Chamber Business of the Year click on 2017 - 2016

To view past blog entries from 2017 at Edisto click on Holiday Business After Hours - Billfish Tourney - Bingo - Jim Bost Memorial - Shark Tourney

To view past blog entries from 2016 at Edisto click on Serpentarium - Jim Bost Memorial - Dolphin Slam - Cobia Tourney - Spring Shorebird Synergy - Bovine Bones on Beach - Edisto River book