Date: Tue, 11 Jan 2005 23:27:44 -0500
Sender: Georgia Birders Online <GABO-L@LISTSERV.UGA.EDU>
From: Grant McCreary <jedigrant@EXCITE.COM>
Subject: weekend of birding in south GA (long)
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First I'd like to thank everyone who replied to my rail inquiry. Here's a brief summary of the info I got:Most of the advice has been for certain spots. The most popular recommendations for Clapper Rail, in approximate order starting with the most popular, are the Jekyll Island Visitor Center, Andrews Island Causeway (low tide), Altamaha, and Tybee. Several mentioned tapes, but they said it usually gets them to call, but doesn't necessarily help with seeing them. Same with clapping.Unfortunately, I still didn't see any rails, but had a good time.FridayI first headed to Albany to see the Vermilion Flycatcher. On the way I made a quick stop at Rocky Point Park on Lake Blackshear (Birding Georgia page 143). Not much there, just a bunch of Black and Turkey Vultures and a lone Osprey on a snag in the lake.Many thanks to Christine Gibson for taking me to see the flycatcher. However, he wasn't in it's usual location at the ponds, so we headed to it's secondary location nearby. We almost drove past it before Christine spotted it on a wire. It hung out there only about 30 ft away for a couple of minutes. It was close, but something that fantastic was crying out to be seen through the scope. As soon as I got the scope on it I saw that it had something in its bill, which it then dropped to the ground. It must have been a pellet, since it hadn't sallyed out since we'd spotted it and its bill was closed just a moment before. It then flew off toward the ponds. We looked for the pellet, but it was like the proverbial needle in a haystack.At the ponds there was a lone Wilson's Snipe.Christine told me about Pirate's Cove Nature Park just north of Albany, so I headed there next. I got a great, close look at a Red-shouldered Hawk, as well as a Hermit Thrush, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Blue-headed Vireo.Next stop was Pinewood Rd (see Jim Flynn's post - http://www.listserv.uga.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0501&L=gabo-l&P=R1079):Loggerhead Shrike - on wire across the street from the prisonOn the pond:Ring-necked Duck - 4m, 2fPurple
Gallinule - looked like the "First Spring" in the large Sibley. It was among the vegetation in the middle of the pond where there are some "bushes". It took a couple passes scanning to find it, and after I took my eyes off it for a minute I couldn't refind it. So if you go, just keep scanning.I ended the day at the Cobb Owl Fields (BG pg 141). I was there from 4-6:30pm and drove the length of the road 3 times, but no owls. The most promising spot seemed to be the one that Giff points out in the book, as all but one of the Harriers I saw were there. So that's where I hung out until it got pretty dark. When no owl appeared, I drove to the far end of the road, stopping at each field on the way, but never saw anything. What I did see:Northern Harrier - 1m, 3-5 f (depending on if 2 of them circled back when I wasn't looking)Red-tailed HawkLoggerhead ShrikePalm WarblerCommon YellowthroatSavannah, Song, Swamp, and Chipping SparrowsWhite-crowned Sparrow - at least 2 adults and 2 juveniles. These were in the stands of trees near the Hwy 195 end of the road.SaturdayJekyll Island Welcome Center (BG 204)8:00 am; just after high tide, so no mudflatsHooded Merganser - 4m, 1fHouse WrenJekyll Island South Beach (BG 205)9-10:15am; very foggy at first, then cleared, then foggy againGreat Black-Backed Gull - 1st winter, looked just like figure 221d in HarrisonLaughing GullRing-billed GullHerring GullRoyal TernForster's TernBlack SkimmerBrown PelicanWilletDunlinSanderlingBlack-bellied PloverUnfortunately, no Wilson's Plovers.Along the path to the beach there was a Black-and-white Warbler and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.Jekyll Island North End (BG 206-207)I checked for sea ducks from the pull out and the pier. I saw a couple male scaup at the first spot, and a lot of ducks from the pier. But they were WAY out there, so all I could pick out were the male scaups.I stopped by the Welcome Center again at 11:45am, which was now low tide:Black-bellied Plover - 5Semi-palmated Plover - 2White Ibis - 10Wood Stork - flying overheadNorthern Harrier
fAlso checked out the mitigation area (BG 203), but the birds were too far away to identify.
Andrews Island Causeway (BG 200)1-2pm, low tideGreater YellowlegsHorned Grebe - 4 of them at the end of the road, on the right as you face the gate
Marshes of Glynn Park (BG 198)2-2:15pm, low tideWilletGreater YellowlegsBlack-bellied PloverSemi-palmated PloverDowitcher spp - a couple of them, never heard them call
Altamaha - east of 17 (BG 192)3:15-6:30Bald EagleNorthern Harrier - fMarsh Wren - 3 seen, more heardAnd lots of Alligators, including a gigantic one that started me when he splashed into the water. Pretty much all the fields were flooded with a good bit of water.
SundayFort Pulaski (BG 179)8-11am, starting just after high tideMarsh Wren - one "regular" and one "Worthington's"Seaside SparrowNelson's Sharp-tailed SparrowI got the sparrows before the gate even opened. I tried for Saltmarsh Sharp-tailed for several hours along the dikes and road, but no luck.There were also 2 Red-breasted Mergansers in the river.
Tybee North Beach (BG 180)Gulls - Ring-billed, Laughing, Herring, Great Black-backed (1st winter)Western SandpiperRuddy Turnstone - several on the rock jetty at the green "1" markerPurple Sandpiper - several on the same rock jetty
Lake Mayer Community Park, Savannahsee Russ Wigh's directionsBarnacle Goose - 2, just where the directions indicated. I know I can't count these until their status is proved, but they were still cool.
I ended up with 10 lifers and 1 state bird. A great weekend, and fantastic weather, but still with some disappointments. No rails, and I was hoping for the Saltmarsh S-t sparrow, and the Whimbrel and Marbled Godwit that's been seen around the JI Welcome Center. But, that just leaves me with more incentive to go back.
Grant McCrearyCumming (Forsyth county), GA
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