Sunday, October 19, 2014

Savannah, Georgia, 2014

This year’s trip was our seventh (we think, no one seems to know for sure) with fourteen people all from the Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter (the “Elizabethton Bird Club”) of the Tennessee Ornithological Society. This was our first trip to the Savannah, Ga., area. In previous years we have visited Charleston area with side trips to Hilton Head, to the south, and Huntington Beach State Park, to the north.

We visited: Orangeburg Sod Farm, Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge, Savannah NWR/ Onslow Island, Cay Creek Wetlands Interpretive Center, Lake Mayer City Park, and the Savannah River basin around Wilmington Island.

The group recorded 122 species which is a record. I had 90 which is probably a record, too, but rather shy of the group tally. Coming from upper East Tennessee where the weather had been falling towards Autumn, ninety-degree highs coupled with ninety-percent humidity was tough on us. Everyone sweated like it was mid-August again. We were able to get to some spots where most birders do not: Wilmington Island and Onslow Island.

I have listed below some of the highlight finds: mottled dock; ruddy duck; roseate spoonbill; bobolink; black-and-white warbler; merlin and peregrine falcon; fifteen sandpipers (out of 35 on the list); 7 gulls and terns. There are of course scads of shorebirds and marsh birds that we don’t ever see here which for us makes the trip exciting. We spied a sand bar of oyster catchers and black skimmers and you could almost hear the shutters of the cameras over the rumble of the outboard. We were able to beach on the ocean-side beach and watch flocks of gulls, terns, and more skimmers. The next stop to the east was probably Spain!

Onslow Island was a long trek in the sun, which I did not finish. This is tucked in between river systems and collects spoils from the dredging. In the spoils are an abundance of food for various birds. While we found several new species we saw many more of previous finds. In the background always, were the paper pulp plants that lessen the experience but is something we found we could ignore, too, just as the birds do.

In our crew this year: Joe McGuiness and Kim Stroud who do the scouting and organizing; Jim and Darla Anderson; Roy Knispel; Brookie and Jean Potter; John Hay; Wilma Boy; Lois Cox; Vern Maddox; Kathy Noblet; Mary Anna Wheat.

The Lee and Lois Herndon Chapter meets the first Tuesday at the Science Center on the campus of Milligan College. Meetings start at 7:00 p.m.