Thursday, May 15, 2014

2014 Edisto Island Open Land Trust - Spring Birding Trip

Dr. Sid Gauthreaux and John Girault and EIOLT birders

Three weeks ago wet weather wiped out a proposed birding trip on Edisto Island. In a twist of fate the trip was rescheduled for May 10, which happens to be International Migratory Bird Day. Greeted with sunshine, pleasant temps and even a nice breeze to hold back the mosquitoes, the birding tour had great luck in viewing songbirds including the painted bunting, and even a group of dunlin shorebirds on a brief Lowcountry layover during their annual trek to the breeding grounds in the Arctic tundra.
The birding trip was organized by the Edisto Island Open Land Trust (EIOLT) and led by two of their members, Dr. Sid Gauthreaux and Carroll Belser. The tour began on the property near their home at Sunnyside Plantation, which included a large agriculture field planted in winter wheat next to a live oak and pine tree habitat. The birding synergy that occurs in early spring on this barrier island soon became apparent to everyone with a pair of binoculars. For tips on birding gear click here.
A Royal Flush - Roseate Spoonbill over blue-winged teal
“It’s worth noting that the ground we are bird watching on is under a conservation easement since 2009,” said John Girault, EIOLT executive director. “EIOLT annually donates a portion of resources towards an education outreach component, and bird watching is a part of our Back To Nature Series.” Simply put, this type of trip allows members of the public to experience a privately held property that might not otherwise be accessible, in order to raise awareness about the environmental benefits derived from conservation.
The value of a live oak was clear to the birders on Saturday when a pair of yellow-throated warblers were spotted by their nest in a clump of Spanish moss suspended from an overhanging limb. The female was carrying nesting material in her mouth to the nest and the male was keeping watch over our group. “This is likely a second nest for these birds, since we are into late spring,” said Dr. Gauthreaux, a noted ornithologist.
A little further down the birding trail we encountered some scrub and shrub habitat where we found an immature male Orchard Oriole singing loudly. It is a striking yellow bird with a black patch on his throat, and while I already had Orchard Oriole on my birding Life List, this was the first immature male encountered. Soon a Northern Parula warbler has us aiming optics at that small but brightly colored bird, before it flitted away. To read about more sightings click my Birding Journal Observations

A total of twenty-seven species of birds were recorded in just an hour or so. We decided to change locations and visit a property with large freshwater wetlands that is under a conservation easement with The Nature Conservancy, located near the old shrimp farm. At this location we recorded thirty-eight species of bird life over about two hours, before the tour ending at noon.

To view this story in the newspaper click on Colletonian.

To view past entries about EIOLT click Oyster Roast, Spring Birding or Conservation.

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