Savannah sparrow from today
White Ibis from today
Tricolored heron from today
I also visited the Shem Creek boardwalk. This well-maintained path over the marsh is definitely worth a visit if you are ever in the the Charleston area. There weren't many birds present as the tide had dropped significantly by the time I arrived. The boardwalk also gives a nice view of some local fishing boats and Fort Sumter in the Charleston harbor. I did from this spot add American Oystercatcher (#176). After lunch near the boardwalk, I returned to the Pitt Street Bridge. The tide had dropped enough to expose a series of mudflats which now held a multitude of shorebirds. In addition to Willets, Dunlin, Semipalmated plovers, and Oystercatchers, I also found Marbled godwits (#177) and Short-billed dowitchers (#178). It was nice to compare all the various shorebirds at a medium distance. I also added Western sandpiper (#179) at the end of the day.
I tried to do some sea watching during the middle part of the day, but given the strong west winds, this wasn't going to work today. The wind was a headache all day. Given the tough birding conditions, I decided to try something new: beach biking. The pitch of the beach on Sullivan's Island is very shallow; This means that at low tide there are very wide, hard packed sandflats exposed. I decided to try biking along these flats. This turned out to be a fantastic decision. The sun was shining, the wind was at my back, there was no one else on the beach, and my blood pressure was lower than is has been in decades. I biked in a slow, rolling sinusoid, and I stopped periodically to examine the winding track behind me. I had absolutely nowhere to be, and I took full advantage of this as I repeatedly biked over the same ground just because it was possible. At one point, a small group of dolphins surfaced only 25 yards from the beach. They were playing with one another and slapping their tails on the water as the rolled around in what seemed like waist deep water. A flock of Red knots zoomed by with purpose, and a Royal tern floated by with apparently less care than even I had at the time. It was a really surreal experience, and one that I will certainly never forget. So much of a big year, both in the traditional and bicycle styles, is rushing from place to place to find birds. It was so satisfying to let all that go for an hour and just enjoy the moment.
It looks as though I am going to be trapped in Charleston tomorrow by high winds that are going to blow between 20 and 40 MPH from the west - the exact direction I have to go. There is no way can I bike the 70 miles to my next stop under those conditions. There is nowhere to bail out half-way either. I have to wait for a day with good conditions when I can make the whole ride. Ugh, another day lost to weather, and its surely going to be too windy to bird. On the bright side, I guess I can watch USA versus Russia in hockey tomorrow morning!