Thursday, February 13, 2014

Feb 13 (Day 44) - Weather improves, 5 new birds, transportation thoughts

Today I essentially moved from one part of Charleston to another (10 miles). This was to set myself up to search the coastal marshes for the marsh sparrows during the 7am high tide tomorrow morning. I had hoped to search for them today, but with winds in excess of 20 MPH all day, I figured this would be a fruitless endeavor. I am hoping that the decent weather predicted for tomorrow lures them out for me.

I decided that I would spend some time birding the beach since the marshes were effectively out. On the way to the beach, a Green heron flew right across my path for species #170. Once I reached the shore, I quickly tacked on Black skimmer (#171) and Royal tern (#172) from the bike. I am staying at a house that is essentially on the beach, so I spent a few hours kicking the rather wide and rustic swath of beach in front of the house. Because of all the rain we have had in the last 3 days, there was actually some standing water adjacent to the dunes where I found, unexpectedly, 2 male Blue-winged teal (#173). More suitably for the beach, I also found Dunlin, Black-bellied plovers, Red knots, Willets, Sanderlings, and Piping plovers (#174). The onshore wind crushed any hopes I had of finding Parasitic jaeger, but I will spend some time sea watching tomorrow afternoon after the big sparrow hunt. Here is shot of the beach complete with blowing sand!

A windy Sullivan's Island beach

My hosts tonight REALLY wanted to take me out to dinner at their favorite local spot. I asked how far away it was and they said about 3/4 of a mile. This was perfect as it allowed me to walk while they drove. I think everyone by now well appreciates that I am doing all of my birding activities using only the bicycle and by walking. I will not take ferries, put my bike on a bus or a train, or hitch rides as I bird or move between birding spots. What I do not think that everyone fully understands is that I am also doing all of my non-birding activities without cars or other powered vehicles. The last time I got into a car was December 31, 2013! When I was in New York City I didn't even get on the subway as I walked everywhere instead.

I am doing this as a side experiment to see how far into the year I can make it "under my own power". However, I do realize that this complicates things not only for me, but also for my hosts. All of my hosts to date have understood the side experiment that I doing, and they have all graciously offered to cook for me or pick up take-out for us on their way home from work. However, at some point a situation is going to arise where I will have to use a car. My prediction is that this will occur when a host has no food in the house, and we will be forced to drive some distance, after dark, to find food of some sort (I am actually carrying 2 cans of Chili with me in case this situation arises). I understand that my side experiment really puts pressure on my hosts to cook at home, but so far it hasn't been an issue. My side experiment will at some point become an impediment to my health, my safety, or a host's sanity. At that time I will abandon it and do the sensible thing. I don't think anyone is going to give me a hard time if I make it to my hosts' house on the bike and then drive out to eat. If you take umbrage with this, please first go 44 straight days without cars, motorcycles, buses, trains, and boats and then file a grievance with the complaint department!

OK since I saw Piping plover today, I'll give you some really juicy shots of these guys from my collection. These are some of my favorite birds to shoot. The last photo is an extra special surprise!

***Click thumbs for bigger images***

Big stretch

Right at sunrise

Parent protecting 3 chicks

Ready for my close-up

 Very young chick at first light

Slightly older chick

One of my favorite photos 

The most completely leucistic bird I've ever seen!
Info on leucistic birds here.


  1. Col. Nathan R. JessupFebruary 14, 2014 at 1:39 AM



  2. I think it's a good experiment you're doing. But would you be willing to rent a row-boat or other human-powered boat into the sea to look for pelagics?

  3. Amazing pictures. Thank you for sharing.

  4. Incredible photos!

    And I wouldn't fault you at all for hopping a ride to get some grub.