Bull Island Walk

On the walk across Bull Island from the ferry landing to the beach we were entertained by a number of small songbirds like this Phoebe singing his heart out.

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Others were busier looking for their next meal in the reeds

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or the underbrush.

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A single Yellow-bellied Sapsucker seen working a palm tree out in the open defied the bird size trend of the morning.

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Bulls Island, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Awendaw, SC.

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Cooper’s Hawk

On the ferry ride to Bulls Island we were told that the eleven of us on the boat would be the only humans on the island, at least until they returned with a second group at noon. The public dock was damaged by Hurricane Matthew and the private service dock wasn’t open to other users.

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It was very quiet as I watched this Cooper’s Hawk for several minutes after two of my companions walked right underneath him not glancing up.

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He looked right at me as I became aware of  noise, sounding like a crowd of people approaching. How could that be? The Hawk remained unfazed as 50 or 60 teenagers and a few chaperones came charging along the path, some quieting and interested in having a look when I pointed him out and some just intent on getting to the beach. I never did find out how they got to the island.

The Hawk moved about 10 feet to an adjacent tree and watched as the group turned the corner and disappeared. I had to move on as the mosquito crowd grew.

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Bulls Island, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Awendaw, SC.

Click on any image for larger view.

Island Warbler

This Warbler was at the edge of the beach on Bulls Island, nicely camouflaged by his surroundings when he stayed in the undergrowth.

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With a steady wind coming in from the Atlantic Ocean he limited his time on higher perches.

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North America has more than 50 Warbler species, many that are quite distinct and easy to ID. This one seems to fit a few options to me, perhaps a Palm Warbler.

Bulls Island, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Awendaw, SC.

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Click on any image for larger view.

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

The Yellow-billed Cuckoo normally forages at tree top level for caterpillars but this small group of 4 or 5 birds was flitting along the ground and low branches at the edge of a swamp near the Waccamaw River. When not eating they stayed perfectly still for 30 or more seconds, patiently watching.

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This area was recently roughed up by Hurricane Matthew and water is still high, possibly affecting both the birds’ and the bugs’ routines.

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Brookgreen Gardens, Murrells Inlet, SC.

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Great Egrets

Several Great Egrets gave aerial shows around the old rice fields at Magnolia Plantation this afternoon.

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This one circled around swinging out over the Ashley River several times, seemingly undecided and looking for just the right perch.

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The water is high  and much of the vegetation is displaced due to Hurricane Matthew that passed through over the weekend.  Clumps of what I previously thought was solid earth have floated around the marsh or gotten pushed on to the berm, a few trees blew over, and a lot of the cane is flattened. From the ground is looks like a different place. I expect the bird’s eye view is quite different, too.

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Bird Convention

With no apparent connection to dry land this old wall or walkway out in a  marshy inlet of the Cooper River makes a perfect spot for a bird gathering.

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This marsh borders Charleston’s Magnolia Cemetery, some of which has sunk into the marsh. It’s hard to tell if it may have been a part of the cemetery property.

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I followed a berm to get a closer shot but was driven to retreat by a viscous horde of mosquitoes.

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(Click any photo to enlarge.)