Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Bird Walk on Folly Beach

Jeff Mollenhauer, Audubon South Carolina’s Director of Bird Conservation, decided to head to Folly Beach County Park on Sunday to do some scouting for the upcoming “Folly Beach Bird Walk” on Friday, March 14th, 10:00am – 12:00pm.

The Stono River inlet at the southern tip of Folly Beach is well known by bird watchers as good area to observe wintering and migrating shorebirds. Sunday’s outing proved to be just as good as anticipated. Upon reaching the mud flats, Jeff observed a couple hundred shorebirds feeding in a large flock among the mud flats and oysters. Many of the shorebirds were Dunlin, but there were also smaller numbers of Semipalmated Plover, Black-bellied Plover, Wilson’s Plover, Willet, American Oystercatcher, and Greater Yellowlegs.

The flock of shorebirds was acting unusually skittish though. Every 3-4 minutes they would erupt into the air, fly around in a circle over the Stono River, only to return to the spot only moments later. Usually this kind of behavior is exhibited when a predator is lurking nearby. Suspicions were confirmed when suddenly a small, dark falcon with heavily streaked undersides came zipping through the shorebird flock. The falcon was a Merlin, a smaller cousin of the Peregrine Falcon, both of which love to prey on shorebirds! Although the Merlin returned to strafe the shorebirds about 30 minutes later, there was no success for the predator that day. To put a nice finishing touch on the evening, three Black Skimmers flew by low over the water skimming for fish.

To reserve your spot, visit http://www.ccprc.com or call 843-795-4FUN (4386) and reference course #18510. Be sure to register quickly though because there are only 10 spots left.

Walks will be held on the second Friday of every month, so if you miss this month please join us for the April or May walk. The program will be co-lead by Jeff Mollenhauer and the Charleston County Parks and Recreation Commission’s Interpretive Naturalist, Keith McCullough. There is no cost for the walk, but there is $7.00 parking fee to enter the county park. Advanced registration is required and space is limited. If you have any questions, please contact Jeff Mollenhauer at jmollenhauer@audubon.org or 843-462-2150.

Images by Jeff Mollenhauer

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