Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Isn't this Ducky (OR Nothin' Could be FInah than to be in Carolinah)

Sunday, February 9, 2014  Huntingdon Beach State Park South Carolina. Sunny, Breezy, high 50's

This Park, near Myrtle Beach, is a must for the ecologist or ornithologist.  It is located on US 17, just south of Murrell's Inlet.  For $5, you have access to fine trails, lovely beach, and the finest example of a Spartina Salt Marsh I have seen.  My first ecology course at McGill University used a textbook written by Georgia Professor E P Odum, whose research on Spartina salt marshes proved them to be the most biologically productive ecosystems on our continent.  Therefore, visiting such  a fine example does close the circle for me.  Along with Spartina, local volunteers have worked to re-introduce the natural kidneys of the Salt Marsh: Oysters.

Spartina Salt Marsh (Myrtle Beach in background)

Happy Oysters gathered on Pylon

I had a serendipitous moment.  As I searched for birds at the causeway which crosses the marsh, another birder was looking at the birds.  He turned out to be Jack Peachey,  previously a leader of the Carolina Bird Club, and author of the Huntingdon Beach State Park Bird Checklist.  This was Jack's first time out after recovery from an illness, and we shared my scope to see some of the local birds.  The sun did wash out some ducks at the far end of the marsh, and I promised Jack I would check then out and report:
Jack, it was a great delight and honour to meet you.. We saw these Black-bellied plovers together (one starting to get spring colours).  The ducks were mostly Green-Winged Teal, and there were also Coots, some Blue Winged Teal and a Mute Swan.

While with Jack, a Forster's Tern landed after a successful bout of fishing:

I then went to the last beach before returning to the frozen north.  After observing a pair of Red-necked Grebes, some Herring, Laughing and Ring-billed Gulls, and these Sanderlings,

I took a series of beach photos, ones that are designed to give the feeling of an Atlantic Beach, and its possibilities, sounds, sights, smells:

I then finished my day with a ducky time, after going to the education center, and finding Carolina Chickadees, Cardinals, and this Tufted TItmouse at the feeder, and, the ubiquitous Yellow-rumped Warbler at the bath:

Duck-phasmagoria (pick out the (Jon) Ruddy Duck:

Ruddy Duck

Four Species (which one is the Redhead?)
Thanks again, Jack.  We hope to see you adding to the checklist soon!