Thursday, January 31, 2008
Wednesday, January 30, 2008
Tuesday, January 29, 2008
Friday, January 25, 2008
Over the past 40 years Rusty Blackbird populations may have declined by as much as 98% based on results from the Breeding Bird Survey and Christmas Bird Count. There are an estimated 1.4 million Rusty Blackbirds remaining in the world. This may seem like a big number, but it is pretty small compared to the 70 million that roamed the earth forty years ago. Scientists have not yet determined the source of this precipitous decline, but are investigating habitat loss on both the breeding grounds in the boreal forests of Canada and wintering grounds in the southeastern United States. South Carolina boasts some of the highest numbers of wintering Rusty Blackbirds on the Atlantic Coast. Among the best sites to see Rusty Blackbirds in South Carolina are Donnelley WMA, Santee NWR, Savannah NWR, Magnolia Plantation, and Lake Conestee Nature Park. Rusty Blackbirds can be found in South Carolina from November to April.
Another potential cause of their decline may be mercury contamination of streams and wetlands. Studies have shown that insectivore food webs biomagnify mercury more than fish food webs. Since the Rusty Blackbird is feeds primarily on aquatic insects they may be more susceptible to mercury contamination than fish-eating birds. As we have reported previously, we are particularly concerned about mercury pollution in the South Carolina, since many of the waterways in the coastal plain already have fish consumption advisories due to elevated levels of mercury. In fact, mercury contamination is known to be high right here in Four Holes Swamp. About 50% of the mercury in our streams is probably attributable to natural sources, but the rest is mercury pollution from man-made sources. Coal-fired power plants are known to be a major source of mercury pollution. A recent study in eastern Ohio conducted by the EPA and University of Michigan, determined that coal combustion plants caused 70% of mercury pollution within the Ohio River Valley. Their analysis also indicated that much of the contamination was from local or regional sources.
Thursday, January 24, 2008
Wednesday, January 23, 2008
Third place Awards:
State senators Heyward Hutson, Patsy Knight and Randy Scott and Summerville Town Council members Howard Bridgman, Mike Dawson and Bob Jackson joined other members of the community to honor the photographers. The winning photographs will remain on display at the Summerville Visitor Center through the end of January and will be posted on the ASC webpage shortly.
Tuesday, January 22, 2008
Friday, January 18, 2008
Thursday, January 17, 2008
1. Plan to count birds for at least 15 minutes during February 15–18, 2008. Count birds at as many places and on as many days as you like—just keep a separate list of counts for each day and/or location.
As you can see from the image of South Carolina's 2007 results, there are plenty of reporting gaps in our state. We encourage everyone to spend AT LEAST 15 minutes during the four-day count to help extend the count coverage across the state. This is a tremendous opportunity for families to enjoy a fun, free and easy activity together!
Wednesday, January 16, 2008
General Francis "Swamp Fox" Marion fought at numerous sites in South Carolina and used our state's swamps to his advantage. He quite possibly rode beneath the very bald cypress that stand today in Audubon's Francis Beidler Forest. As noted previously, South Carolina has no natural lakes and the dams that created Lake Marion and Lake Moultrie were over 150 years from existence. In one of the battles that we remembered from our history lessons, Francis Marion maneuvered his troops through Black Mingo Swamp and attacked the British (see historical marker). When it came time to name the jet-black puppy from a water-loving breed, Mingo seemed appropriate.
Although the images show Mingo's first steps into Black Mingo Creek to be tentative, she quickly became comfortable moving into deeper water. Notice that the water appears to be a different and not-so-black color in the shallow water. Tannic acid from the leaves and bark of trees stains the water just as tea leaves add color and flavor to the South's favorite drink. The water is a uniform color throughout the swamp, but with less water in the shallow areas, there is less stain through which to peer. Deeper water contains more stained water. Therefore, the deeper water appears to be black. However, if that "black" water were to be scooped out in a clear glass, it would appear only slightly colored and significantly lighter than iced tea.
Although not confirmed, Mingo dipped in the Black Mingo appears to have taken on an Achilles-like cloak of invincibility...at least in her mind.
Friday, January 11, 2008
Monofilament fishing line is a flexible plastic that is an entanglement danger to wildlife. The SCDNR recycling program is designed to provide an opportunity for recreational anglers to recycle, rather than mindlessly discard, used fishing line. The Ocean Conservancy’s image shows a Brown Pelican that died as a result fishing line entanglement. Some birds will also use the fishing line as nesting material, which can lead to the death of chicks due to entanglement (image, USFWS).
According to the SCDNR, “the urgency and importance of recycling monofilament has already been documented. Previous research in Florida has determined that between 1995 and 2000, about 35 dolphins in the Southeast have been fatally wounded from monofilament related injuries. The Florida Marine Research Institute documented over the course of four years 163 sea turtles entangled in monofilament. During the same study, more than 250 seabirds were rescued from hook and fishing line entanglements.”
The monofilament recycling bins are constructed of plastic culvert pipe and can be found on fishing piers, near public boat landings, and around popular destination areas for anglers. The images show the bin installed at Mallard Lake for the 30-member fishing club that was formed to accommodate the long-standing fishing presence that existed prior to the creation of the Francis Beidler Forest. Information on how you can participate in this recycling program can be found here.
Once collected, monofilament fishing line is melted into reusable plastic pellets, which are then fashioned into tackle boxes, spools for fishing line, artificial fish habitats, and other plastic products. Between 1990 and 2006, over seven million miles of monofilament was recycled.
Thursday, January 10, 2008
Tuesday, January 08, 2008
Sunday, January 06, 2008
The thick fog made it difficult to count birds at a distance in the salt marsh or ocean, so we focused much of our effort in the morning on counting woodland birds. Our best bird of the trip came at about 9:30am, a beautiful adult female Prairie Warbler! While we were counting a large flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers in a juniper out popped the Prairie Warbler. There was no mistaking the identification of this rare winter visitor to South Carolina, as we all got great looks its olive-green back and bright yellow under parts with distinct black streaks along the flanks. Prairie Warblers have only been seen on four of the last ten Charleston CBCs.
Another unusual bird for the Charleston CBC that was seen shortly thereafter was a pair of Red-breasted Nuthatches. Red-breasted Nuthatches are an irruptive winter visitor in the coastal plain of South Carolina. During years of low food abundance in the north, these small nuthatches “irrupt” into the southern end of their wintering range. During the past 20 years, Red-breasted Nuthatches have only been seen on one Charleston CBC. This year is an irruption year for the Red-breasted Nuthatch and they have been reported throughout much of the coastal plain.
Some other highlights for the day were counting a roost of forty Black-crowned Night-Herons on a small pond; sorting through hundreds of resting Black Skimmers, Dunlin, Short-billed Dowitcher, and Western Sandpipers on the beach; watching more than seventy five North Gannets as they made spectacular dives for fish along the front beach of the island; and finding two Piping Plovers, one of South Carolina’s most imperiled species. As for the 90% chance of rain, thankfully we never saw a drop of it! We ended the day with much better visibility on the returning ferry and were able to spot a half dozen Common Loons in the creek and an adult Bald Eagle perched in a dead snag overlooking the salt marsh.
Special thanks to the rest of the team: Mark Musselman, Erin & John Sabine, Joe Fontaine, Linda Zinnikas, and especially Jonathan Lutz for guiding us and providing transportation on the island.
Friday, January 04, 2008
Audubon South Carolina
336 Sanctuary Rd.
Harleyville, SC 29448