Monday, May 18, 2015

Tybee Life and Bird Times

As songbird migration comes to a close, things are still hopping on the beach. When Ogeechee Audubon conducted our shorebird survey on Sunday evening, May 17th, the beach was littered with tiny shorebirds feeding frenetically at the water's edge. We also saw huge numbers of horseshoe crabs milling about in the surf and being tumbled up onto the beach by the wake from the ships.
A few of the hundreds of Horseshoe Crabs that were on Tybee North Beach.

The underside of a crab that got tumbled by the waves.

One highlight was seeing black-bellied plovers that actually had black bellies! This one was not popular with the laughing gulls, as they chased it off.

Black-bellied plover gets chased off by laughing gulls. 

Black-bellied plover in the evening light
Another treat was seeing a flock of now rusty orange red knots, feeding with the sanderlings and laughing gulls.
Red knots, sanderlings and laughing gulls
Sanderlings, semipalmated sandpipers, and semipalmated plovers were all milling about and feeding together at the water's edge, with an occasional least sandpiper mixed in.
 Sanderlings & semipalmated sandpipers 

Semipalmated plover (front) and semipalmated sandpiper (back)

Least sandpiper (front) and semipalmated sandpiper
Perhaps the most exciting thing was finding that the first American oystercatcher chick had hatched.
Probably the same pair raised 2 chicks on the north beach last year. They had 3 eggs this year but there was only one chick walking around behind the parents. As of last Tuesday, May 12th, the nest still had three eggs. Today folks observed an armadillo wandering around in the dune area.

Like parent, like child - oystercatcher chick follows in step!

The sunset was spectacular, with the cranes from the Port silhouetted against the sun.

Sunset seen from the north end of Tybee

This morning, after more beach time, I went to the other end of Tybee to look for gray kingbirds. I did not find them at the hotel - formerly Ocean Plaza Resort, now Hotel Tybee. However, when I drove down Tybrisa Street, there on the wire was a single gray kingbird. Hooray!

Gray kingbird on the wire