My Bird Blog: A blog about my birding discoveries, bird feeders, birds on my life lists, and all things bird related

Sue's Bird Blog Archives

Birding in South Carolina

Published June 01, 2015
Tags: Life List Happenings, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Brown Pelican, White Ibis, Tricolored Heron, Osprey, Swallow-tailed Kite, Willet, Anhinga, Green Heron, Sandwich Tern, Gull-billed Tern, Painted Bunting, Carolina Chickadee, Brown-headed Nuthatch, White-eyed Vireo, Yellow-throated Vireo, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Blue Grosbeak, Little Blue Heron, Prothonotary Warbler, Pine Warbler, Yellow-throated Warbler, Yellow-breasted Chat, Summer Tanager, Bachman's Sparrow

My good friend, Gale VerHague, invited me to accompany her to South Carolina for some targeted birding of a couple of specific species, namely the Red-cockaded Woodpecker (RCW) and the Bachman's Sparrow. I was all IN!

We pretty much spent the whole of two days in the Carolina Sandhills NWR and got to know the refuge area pretty well. We found the Red Cockadeds early on and were fortunate to have multiple sightings of them.

The RCW is a beautiful bird whose populations have decreased by close to 99% since European settlement. They require a specific habitat of open, longleaf pine forests that the DEC in this refuge works hard to maintain.  However, this habitat hardly exists anymore due to human expansion and exploitation.

The RCW is a non-migratory bird and is very territorial with a complex social system. I was thrilled to have seen these beautiful woodpeckers and hope we can preserve their forests for them to continue and thrive.

The Bachman's Sparrow was found by Gale who happened to notice it fly across the road while she was driving. Amazing! We enjoyed many minutes of this bird as it sang its unusually beautiful song out in the open for us. This is another declining species who is dependent on the longleaf pine forest.

After two days of birding hard at the refuge, we moved to Huntington Beach for another two days of intense birding. It was a completely different habitat that included ocean beach and sandy forests. It was here that we both got the Painted Bunting and Swallow-tailed Kite as life birds. The kite was an amazing experience that totally knocked my socks off. I saw it fly in with low, gentle glides as it swooped near the parking lot we were at. It generously gave us phenomenal views looping back and forth - and then reappearing giving the same show a few minutes later.  We were ecstatic to say the least.

All in all, I got 15 life birds on this trip that included, in no particular order: Swallow-tailed Kite, Loggerhead Shrike, Blue Grosbeak, Painted Bunting, Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Brown Pelican, Sandwich Tern, White Ibis, Royal Tern, Northern Bobwhite, Anhinga, Red-cockaded Woodpecker, Bachman's Sparrow, Brown-headed Nuthatch, Carolina Chickadee. Awesome!  I believe Gale got at least 7 or 8 life birds as well. It was a great time! Oh, and a big thank you to Gale's son and his wife for hosting us at their house!
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Red-cockaded Woodpecker
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Red-cockaded Woodpecker
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Bachman's Sparrow
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Bachman's Sparrow singing
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Pine Warbler
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Yellow-throated Warbler
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Blue Grosbeak
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Yellow-breasted Chat
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Brown-headed Nuthatch
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A poor shot of a White-eyed Vireo
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Yellow-throated Vireo
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Prothonotary Warbler
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Summer Tanager
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Little Blue Heron
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White Ibis
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Anhinga
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Painted Bunting
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Carolina Chickadee
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Sandwich Tern
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Brown Pelican
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Tricolored Heron
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Willet
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Baby Green Heron
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Swallow-tailed Kite, my favorite bird of the trip!
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Distant shot of the Black-bellied Whistling Ducks