Thursday, September 22, 2016

Hummingbird Moth and Order Lepidoptera

Hummingbird Moth from 9/18/2016 - Notice the long tongue!
The Four O'Clock flowers only bloom from dusk until dawn. They derive their nickname from the approximate daily bloom time of 4 p.m. until 4 a.m. The cooler weather over the weekend had me keeping a sharp eye for fall songbird migration, and that's when I noticed about four hummingbird moths tending the flowers for nectar right when they were opening very late in the afternoon. The hummingbird moths are very busy and constantly moving so I had difficulty getting a clear photo image, and that's when I tried a slo-mo video using my iPhone, and captured a neat video to share.

To view past blog entries about encounters with the natural world click on American Oystercatcher Bats - Snakes - Honey Bees - Wood Storks

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Warbler Neck and Fall Songbird Migration

Northern parula warbler in Mimosa tree on 9/ 17/16
The fall season is a favorite for many folks in the Lowcountry for reasons like football season, shrimp-baiting season and the cooler weather. For birdwatchers the fall migration can provide another grand reason to appreciate this shoulder season between Labor Day and Halloween. Colorful birds like the hooded warbler may suddenly appear, and join in with more common sighting like the Carolina wren.

If you think that warblers are small birds that tend to look alike, you are not alone. But for birders the fun is trying to notice just one tidbit of detail that can help you find the correct ID, such as yellow colors on the back or on the underside. Another difficulty is that warblers tend to stay high up in the tree canopy, making binoculars a must, but also putting a strain on one’s neck muscles to a point that birders can complain of ‘warbler neck’ pain.

As tough as it is to see small birds flitting about in the trees without having any idea of what they are, before they fly off and disappear, it’s a boon to see or hear a songbird and then diagnose which one it is. During migration time, these songbirds might travel through hardwood corridors, and along field edges and even in backyards in search of water to drink and other bird life. In fact, I can share that something as basic as a birdbath can be a powerful attractor for migrating birds.

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

To view past blog entries about migration click Fall 2015 - Spring 2014 -  Spring 2013 

To view blog entries on past birding trips click on 2010 ACE Basin - 2014 Edisto Island - 2013 Grosse Savanne - 2015 Little St. Simon's Island

To view the latest Birding Journal Observations click July / August 2016

To view past blog entries about encounters with the natural world click on Hummingbird MothAmerican Oystercatcher Bats - Snakes - Honey Bees - Wood Storks

Wednesday, September 14, 2016

Canebrake Rattlesnake Joins Edisto Island Serpentarium

Heyward Clamp on Sept. 8 with new arrival
On Saturday, September 3 in the late afternoon, Marie Elliott of Edisto Island saw the massive rattlesnake crossing a dirt road and heading for a ditch. She is the niece of Heyward Clamp, founder of the Edisto Serpentarium, and quickly called his cell phone number to alert him of the situation. While she maneuvered her car back and forth to thwart the rattler from crossing the road, Clamp arrived at the scene in five minutes and used tongs to pick up the snake and secure it in a box he keeps at the ready in his truck.

Coachwhip snake on display at Serpentarium
Brothers Ted and Heyward Clamp milking a Diamondback Rattler,
so the venom can be used for medical science
Clamp told me that this canebrake rattlesnake will be used as an educational animal in their poisonous snake display and it will also be tapped for future venom production. “This snake has no rattles and that is actually not uncommon, since they are less flexible than a snake and the brittle rattles can break off just crawling through heavy brush,” said Heyward Clamp. “And it is not true that you could age a rattlesnake by counting rattles because they shed their skin multiple times during the course of any one year. The canebrake rattler has not been measured with a ruler because making it straighten out would be putting unnecessary stress on it,” said Heyward Clamp. “But I’ll make an educated guess based on my 50-years of handling snakes, and I think the length is right around five-feet long."

What a great educational facility in the Lowcountry

“Venomous snakes are moving more this time of year because they mate in the fall of the year, “ said Heyward Clamp. “They have their young a year later in the fall, so typically I get more calls about snakes on the move and sightings of small snakes after Labor Day.” Another myth is that snakes travel in pairs, but Clamp says this is not true. However, during mating season a male snake may trail a female snake, like a buck running after a doe during the whitetail deer rut. For more information visit the Internet at Edisto Serpentarium.

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

To view past blog entries on snakes click September Snakes Seen Slithering - Duck Season Snakes -  2014 Snakes at SEWE - 2016 SEWE

Friday, September 9, 2016

Recreational Shrimp Baiting Season Now Open

A large white shrimp typical of S.C. coastal waters
The 2016 Recreational Shrimp Baiting Season opens at noon on Friday September 9, and runs for 60 days until November 8.  Here's the South Carolina DNR press release:

Recreational shrimpers who purchase a shrimp-baiting license can legally cast their nets for shrimp over bait during this season. Shrimp-baiting season lasts 60 days and will remain open until noon Tuesday, Nov. 8. The S.C. Department of Natural Resources (DNR) opens the shrimp-baiting season annually on the last Friday on or before Sept. 15 each year.
DNR biologists reported especially high shrimp numbers in spring 2016 following a warm winter, and a similarly strong fall crop of white shrimp, the offspring of the spring season, is expected.
"Given the relatively mild water temperatures we experienced this past winter, the high abundance of white roe shrimp we started the season with, and the very encouraging results of our ongoing inshore crustacean monitoring efforts, the shrimp fishery this fall has all the makings of a very productive one," said Mel Bell, director of DNR's Office of Fisheries Management. "This will be good news for both the commercial fleet who work in our nearshore waters as well as the recreational shrimping community fishing in shallower estuarine waters. If all of the current trends hold this could be a very good year for shrimping in South Carolina."
Resident shrimp-baiting licenses cost $25, and nonresident licenses cost $500. The catch limit is 48 quarts of shrimp measured heads-on (or 29 quarts heads-off) per boat or set of poles per day, and each boat is limited to a set of 10 poles. When taking shrimp over bait, no cast net may be used having a mesh smaller than one half-inch square measure or one-inch stretch measure. 
To view past blog entries about shrimp season click on 2015 - 20132012 - 2011 - 2009

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Early Goose Season Offers Expanded Bag Limit

September 1, 2016 hunt results
The Canada geese that are found in the Lowcountry all year long are known as the resident population. Each winter, other migratory Canada geese will visit during winter winter before heading back North during the breeding season. The special September season on resident Canada geese allows hunters to harvest up to 15 Canada geese per day, in hopes of keeping local populations in check. This ample bag provides motivation for early season waterfowlers, but hunters still have to figure out how to blend in to the landscape, before taking their best shot at a limit of honkers.
Farm pond habitat like this can attract resident geese
The statewide September season lasts the entire month with legal shooting hours from one-half hour before sunrise until sunset. Keeping legal while hunting waterfowl includes having a S.C. hunt license, S.C. duck stamp, HIP permit for migratory birds and a federal duck stamp. Guns must be limited to 3-shotgun shells and only non-toxic loads like steel and tungsten are allowed. The normal limit on Canada geese harvests during the Thanksgiving and Christmas seasons is set at 5 geese per day.
Scouting for resident Canada geese can take place all year long for veteran wingshooters, but anyone might observe a flock of geese while driving down the road. Sometimes they are observed in hayfields, on fish ponds and in agricultural areas in association with mature crops and harvest time. If you are a goose hunter, then these are exactly the same places that you need to be identifying as a potential hunt location. 

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

To view past blog entries on September goose hunting click 20142013 - 2011.

Monday, September 5, 2016

2016 Labor Day Hunt - Dove Season Opener

Dove Hunters happy in their work on Labor Day
Labor Day limit of 12 doves
A wingshooter cannot deny that a dove hunt is the most social outdoors occasion of them all, and that the opening day of dove season carries tremendous significance. Besides making sure one's hunting license is valid, and then shooting boxes of shotguns shells at September doves, this hunt begins a quest that will carry through until early 2017. Not just since dove season rolls over into January, but because other wingshooting opportunities may arise along the way for waterfowl and quail. Taking a limit on doves in short order on opening day, doesn't translate into success on any of those future hunts, but I was fortunate to do just that on a special Labor Day holiday hunt with friends.

A labrador retriever receives commands from his handler
Arriving two hours before the hunt start time, I found that the wood-fired grill was already being heated up. Venison sausage, catfish chunks and cajun boudin were all on the menu, which helps to characterize what year-round sportsman think of as food choices when celebrating a return to the field. Hunters are assigned which truck will carry them into a portion of the dove field, and from there they are directed which spot they hunt. The weather this day was really quite cool, with temps in the 80's thanks to Tropical Storm Hermine which had passed by just 48-hours earlier, leaving a northeast fetch in her wake, along with much needed beneficial rainfall.

The doves flew steady for hunters in the breezy afternoon conditions, but their groups were small with lots of pairs and singles darting around. One stand is as good as the next, but the hunters that sat in the middle area of the field seemed to make the most of their opportunities. You never can tell how any hunt will unfold, and I can report accidentally harvesting two doves with one shot on this day, which is rare enough to merit my shout of thanks towards the heavens. We all gathered together again after the hunt to share more fellowship and to clean the doves. My doves were full of seed, which makes sense why the doves did not come to land, more or less just flying around the field. All in all it was a positive hunt experience, the kind the makes you glad for dove hunting friends.

To view past blog entries about dove season opening click 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009  

Friday, September 2, 2016

Public Youth Dove Hunts Offer Wingshooting Education

Youth dove hunter with mentor and retriever
Youth dove hunts are a time-honored tradition in the Lowcountry, and some public lands in South Carolina are now customized to conduct youth dove hunts. It is quite possible that Charleston County is home to the grandest public youth dove hunt of them all at Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area on Edisto Island. What was once a privately held plantation is now public, and these sea island dove fields utilize their history to draw in droves of doves each year.
The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR) manages the Botany Bay Wildlife Management Area (WMA) for a wide variety of game and non-game species. For example the beachfront is home to nesting seas turtles and migratory songbirds such as the painted bunting, while the uplands are home to public draw hunts for white-tailed deer.  SCDNR even manages this property for tourism, since its unique road system offers a driving tour for those that simply wish to view the pristine maritime forest found there.
One could argue that the jewel of Botany Bay WMA for sporting types is the long and narrow dove fields that are kept under cultivation for mourning doves. Tall pines border the fields, the kind that took a long time to grow, which are also the kind that doves like to stage in before storming into the fields to feed. Those majestic pines are a remnant from when Botany Bay was private, and property manager Bruce Rawl provides a tangible link to that past, since he has been planting the dove fields the same way for the owners, both past and present.

To view the entire feature article in the newspaper click on Charleston Mercury.

To view past blog entries about dove season opening click 2014 - 2013 - 2012 - 2011 - 2010 - 2009