Thursday, August 25, 2016

Top 5 Tips for Beginner Birders at the Beach

South Carolina beaches are not just home to amazing views and fun in the sun; the coastline also provides vital habitat for both feeding and nesting. Here are a few tips for the aspiring birders out there to catch these coastal birds in action!

1.      Get in Gear
Be sure to pack a hat, sunscreen, bug spray, and plenty of water. If you’re not local then you are sure to find out soon enough that our temps reach over 100 degrees some days. Coupled with our infamous humidity, it is essential to prepare for the heat and the mosquitoes you will encounter in the swampy areas. We recommend bringing about two times the water you think you should.

2.      Choose your spot

Along with our very own Audubon Center & Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest, there are tons of coastal birding hotspots in the state. From black water rivers to barrier islands, this list of designated Important Bird Areas is a great place to start your search for a birding adventure.

3.      Identify
Once you start seeing all of our beautiful coastal birds, you are going to want to identify them. We recommend picking up a field guide or use a mobile app for easy access to information on every species of bird in the United States. Merlin and Audubon Bird Guide are both easy and free. There are also all sorts of methods to record each new bird discovery!

4.      Practice makes perfect
Sometimes you’ll get only a quick glimpse of a bird as it perches or flies from one location to another. Practice your identification method by noticing the size and shape, color, behavior, and habitat. The quicker you get, the longer your list will be!

5.      Share the beach

Wherever you roam, be sure to not disturb the birds or their habitat. If you are close enough to agitate the birds into flying away or altering their behavior in any way, then you are too close. Also, make sure to never feed the birds and refrain from bringing pets. Even on a leash, dogs are perceived as predators to birds and will frighten them away.

Photos by Vanessa Kauffmann

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