To update a recent thread on shorebird "big days" - the coastal plain of
South Carolina produced 32 shorebird species for me yesterday, thanks
to lots of rain over the past few days.
Info on the Kiawah portion of the day are here:
----- Forwarded Message ----
From: Nate Dias <[log in to unmask]>
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: 9-1 cont.- Buff B. Sandpipers, Am. Golden-Plovers, Am. Avocets for 32 shorebird sp. day
toured rain-soaked sod farms and agricultural lands in Jasper and
Hampton counties yesterday afternoon, after having started the day with
a bang at Kiawah Island. East Kiawah produced 26 shorebird species
during an hour and a half of birding the beach and the driving range at
the Ocean Course...
My first stop down south was at Nimmer Turf
Farm. There, I re-learned what Perry Nugent taught me close to 20
years ago: shy open-country birds will walk right up to you in the
rain if you keep perfectly still. I first saw this demonstrated with
Lapland Longspurs and yesterday it was true for BUFF-BREASTED
There were 5 Buffies in the first sod field on the
right on Nimmer Turf Drive. I got better looks at them than I have
ever had before. The closest looks happened while it was raining, so
the digiscope photos and video I got were of the buffies at longer
I posted a few so-so shots of the Buff-breasted Sandpipers here:
present at Nimmer were 2 American Golden-Plovers, 3 Upland Sandpipers,
1 White-rumped Sandpiper and around 40 Pectoral Sandpipers, in addition
to several more common shorebird species.
Warbler flocks were
also working some low ground cover - one flock kept hopping up onto an
irrigation crawler between bouts of eating. There were Pine, Prairie,
Yellow-throated, and American Redstart doing this.
spending some time at Nimmer and eating lunch, I drove up Tarboro Road
and turned right on SC 27-115. This took me through some cornfields
and agricultural areas where I heard the first of many Bobolinks for
There were some nice sod fields on the left of 27-115
about 2/3 of the way to SC 652, but all they held was some Killdeer and
American Crows strutting around.
I then headed up to Furman and
toured some sod farms near there - I found 2 more Upland Sandpipers, as
well as Pectoral and Leasts. There is a lot of nice
corn/millet/sunflower in the area in addition to sod fields - no
telling what kind of November rarities the lands east of Furman might
After Furman, I hit some sod places near Scotia which
were birdless. So I continued up 321 to Estill and headed over on
highway 3. A sod field near Peeples (smaller of the 2 big ones) had a
big flock of Killdeer, some Pectoral and Least Sandpipers, two American
Golden-Plovers and a lone Upland Sandpiper.
while I headed back over to highway 321 and took it south to Savannah
NWR. The refuge was dead as a doornail - I did have two Purple
Gallinules and some flyover Wood Storks but they were the only birds of
note besides calling Ring Rails. There was virtually zero shorebird
habitat at Savannah NWR - that place has really gone to the dogs
compared to 15-20 years ago. I guess they no longer burn impoundments
to maintain shortgrass areas and species composition like they did in
the old days...
After that, I went up the road to check an open
marshy area along US-17 for shorebirds. If you head south and approach
the Savannah River marshes, there is an abandoned nudie bar on the left
just after you pass the existing one on the right. Since it was a
rainy day in broad daylight, I took a chance and stopped in. * There
have been several nighttime shootings and bad things along this stretch
of road recently - the area is attractive for bad characters from
Savannah in the wee hours of weekend mornings...
parked out of sight of US-17, hid tempting things in the car as best I
could, and put on some tall snake boots. I took the overgrown dirt
road behind the abandoned club that leads back into the scrub and then
out into the marsh. The plan was to check a couple of good-sized
openings in the marsh vegetation that have good mudflats at low water.
the tide was low there were good numbers of shorebirds and a few waders
- nothing super-rare, however. I checked another open area northeast
of the first one and had more birds of the common variety.
heading back to the car, I paused at the end of the dirt road and
walked up the dike to investigate a weird flycatcher-sounding call
unlike anything I had ever heard before. It turned out to be an
immature Rough-winged Swallow begging from a parent. I quickly looked
over the water-filled impoundment and saw 600+ American Avocets, 300+
Black-necked Stilts, 2 Wilson's Phalaropes, several Stilt Sandpipers
and 1 Eared Grebe before heading back to the car.
As I tally things, I saw 32 species of shorebirds at 3 sites yesterday in Charleston and Jasper Counties:
White Rumped Sandpiper
suspect this is the single-day record for shorebird species in South
Carolina, although one of the old timers might correct me on that score.
Nathan Dias - Charleston, SC
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