Augusta-Aiken Audubon May, 2018<u> Newsletter

	May, 2018                          Gene Howard, Editor,
	Volume 47, No.3         

MAY MEETING: The Augusta-Aiken Audubon Society will meet on Thursday, May 10, 2018 at 7:00 PM. The meeting location is the North Augusta Community Center, located at 495 Brookside Ave. in North Augusta, SC. The public is invited to all meetings, programs, and field trips sponsored by Augusta-Aiken Audubon.

PROGRAM: P. J. Perea wil present Turkey Talk. The talk will explore the history, biology and management of the wild turkey, including the role the Savannah River Site, South Carolina Department of Natural Resources and National Wild Turkey Federation played in the restoration of this once endangered fowl. He will also discuss the wild turkey in our culture and fun turkey facts.

P.J. Perea is the former director of the National Wild Turkey Federation Winchester Museum. He's an ecologist with a diverse background in fish and wildlife management, fisheries research, public relations, marketing, and education. Currently, he is the director of public relations and outreach for the University of Georgia Savannah River Ecology Laboratory.


On Tuesday March 13, 2018 a birder spotted a Mountain Bluebird on the security fence that borders the Augusta Regional Airport along Lock and Dam road. The sighting was reported on the eBird rare bird alert and soon flocks (pun intended) of birders from near and far arrived to view and photograph the surprise visitor to the Southeast. This is the first documented sighting in the state of Georgia although there are two records in Florida and one in North Carolina.

The Mountain Bluebird could be viewed every day, all day along the same short stretch of the double chain-linked, barbed wire-topped, security fence that extends for over a mile. It perched on the fence and constantly flew to the grass on either side of the fence to hunt for food. There were woods across the road where it may have spent the night. It was frequently joined on the fence by Eastern Bluebirds who also fed in the grass.

It was no surprise that the airport security personnel initially took great interest in the groups of people with binoculars, spotting scopes and cameras that were lined up along their fence. However, they were assured we were not a threat and allowed us to bird as long as we didn’t park on the side of the road next to the fence.

The bird has not been seen since Sunday, March 18. There was a storm that night which may be responsible. During the time it was here, it had to be the most observed and photographed bird in the State of Georgia.

Speculation on how and why the bird was at the airport ran rife. The best guess involved strong storms to our West and particularly in the Northeast where Mountain Bluebirds have been reported. Maybe it experienced one Nor’easter too many, maybe in Augusta, Maine . Of course, this speculation is all nonsense, but it was an unexpected and exciting experience for all of us who love birds.

Editors Note: The factual information for this report was supplied by Lois Stacey. The silliness was contributed by the editor.


Some of you follow various rare bird reports and see the reports all of the really good rare birds that have shown up in Georgia, South Carolina and surrounding areas, many of them many hours drive away. This year however, the hot spot seems to be the CSRA.

Augusta and the surrounding area are generally off of the main flyways so we don’t usually see a lot of rare birds in a short time but this winter has been great for us. In late fall Turkey Pond in Burke County was the place to bird. Over a three or four-week period Brant were seen, and the next weekend a couple of Franklin’s Gulls showed up. There was a Brown Pelican in the area, at least 7 Snow Geese and then a Common Merganser hung around for a few days.

During the coldest part of the winter an American Tree Sparrow was discovered on Lover’s Lane. Unlike previous Tree Sparrow visitors this one actually hung around and was seen by just about everyone who wanted to see it. February was pretty quiet but then March came in and with it another pair of really outstanding visitors. The first ever documented record for Georgia of Mountain Bluebird was the star of the whole show (see above). The bird was well photographed and posted all over the web over the course of the 5 days it was in Augusta. And right after he disappeared a Great Cormorant showed up in the Savannah River. Who knows what else could be out there! Keep your eyes on the skies (and the trees, and everywhere else).


Augusta-Aiken Audubon now has 488 members on our Facebook page!! Want to keep up with what is happening bird-wise in the area? How about ‘What’s this Bird’? Wondering where to go birding? When and where the field trips will be? Join our group, Augusta-Aiken Audubon on Facebook. Lots of information and fun.


Our Education fundraiser has collected $3650.50 in donations thus far. Accordingly, 63 teachers throughout the C.S.R.A. have received and are using th Audubon Adventure kits. Feedback on these kits is starting to come in. A teacher from Augusta wrote, “Early this school year, my 4th grade class learned about animal adaptations. We had specifically looked at the Great White Heron and the Roseate Spoonbill, discussing their similarities and differences. So, when we looked at the ‘Watery World of Wading Birds,’ it reinforced everything that we had discussed.” Madison, an Aiken 4th grader, wrote of Audubon Adventures, “They are creative and they make me want to do so much for [the] environment. In my opinion they’re a first-hand learning tool.” It is exciting to see the positive impact these kits are making on local classrooms!


May 12, 2018

Silver Bluff Audubon Center and Sanctuary

9:00 A.M.

Lunch Provided at Noon! Join us for a self-paced ride on our nearly 8-mile trail loops. Ride the 2nd trail after lunch if desired.

$35 per rider. All proceeds benefit Silver Bluff Audubon Center and Sanctuary.

Pre-registration required by May 10th.

Questions? Email or call (803) 471-0291.



Audubon South Carolina, 635 Rutledge Avenue, Suite 107, Charleston, SC 29403. (803) 471-0291


Augusta-Aiken Audubon's field trips are open at no charge to all chapter members and the public. We encourage everyone to come out and join us! Some tips to make the trips more comfortable: bring a hat, sunscreen, insect repellent, and drinking water. Sturdy walking shoes are recommended as is having raingear nearby. Morning trips during the winter usually begin at 9 a.m. and end around noon; warmer weather trips generally begin at 8 a.m. and end around 11 a.m. If you have questions about a field trip, please contact the listed field trip leader.

Augusta-Aiken Audubon puts the checklists for all of our field trips into the Augusta-Aiken Audubon account on eBird. As of the end of March we have seen 107 species on field trips just since January 2018. Since we started keeping lists on eBird in December 2013 we have seen 234 species of birds! (Plus, dragonflies, butterflies, mammals, snakes, frogs, turtles, beetles, other bugs, etc., etc., etc.). Lois Stacey.

April 28, SaturdayAudubon’s Beidler Swamp boardwalk. Beidler charges $8 per person. We will meet at exit 1 in North Augusta to carpool at 7am. It takes approximately 2.5 hours to get to the center (or you can meet us at Beidler at 9:30am). We will check out their visitor center and walk the boardwalk (1.75 miles) looking for migrants. This is also the location of Operation Protho and we will look for banded Prothonotary Warblers singing along the boardwalk. Bring a lunch and we will eat at the center.

May 5, SaturdayAiken County Migration Count. Come and help count all of the birds we can find in Aiken County! You can meet Paul at the Silver Bluff Kathwood Ponds at 7:30 to team up, or if you live in Aiken County you can count your feeders. If you have an area you would like to count please contact Paul Koehler at Silver Bluff to arrange it. Lunch (bring your own) is at 1pm at the Education building.

May 26, SaturdayCrackerneck WMA. This wonderful area is only open to non-hunters on Saturday’s during 3 months a year. We will wander the property looking for summer breeders. Meet at the parking area at the main gate at 8am. We should finish by noon.

June 9, SaturdayLover’s Lane. Meet at the Popeye’s at Gordon Highway and Walton Way at 8am to carpool. We will drive Lover’s Lane looking for breeding birds. Trip should last until about noon.

June 16, SaturdayAiken Gopher Tortoise HP Wings and Things. Meet at the Long Cane parking area near the intersection of Long Cane Road and Centerwood Rd. We will explore down an old logging road along the stream and the nearby pond. After that we will drive around to the Oakridge Club Rd parking area and walk the trail there. We will be looking for whatever we can find. We will likely go into the afternoon, bring plenty of water and snacks if you want.

July 7, SaturdayAugusta-Aiken NABA Butterfly Count – We will have two teams, one in Augusta and one at Silver Bluff. The teams will meet at 9am; the Augusta team will meet at Phinizy Swamp NP, the Silver Bluff team will meet at the center. The Augusta team will count at Phinizy, Lock and Dam Rd, Lover’s Lane and possibly part of Merry. This team usually goes into the afternoon and we will eat lunch at a nearby restaurant. The Silver Bluff team will count on several areas of the center including the Sparrow Field and is usually done by noon.


April 14, 2018. Jackson Landing Road.

There were 8 of us for this trip on a beautiful spring day. We met at the Kathwood Ponds to carpool. Checking the Bird Cast report, it looked like there was a huge movement of birds the previous night so we were hoping for some migrants. As we were standing by the cars we had a couple of Orchard Orioles fly in and start singing, the first of the year. The Bald Eagle was sitting up over the nest but we didn’t have a scope to see if there are babies in it. We suspect there may be.

We hopped in the cars and drove to Jackson. As soon as we got out of the cars at the start of the road we could hear a Yellow-throated Vireo singing across the tracks. We walked over to see if we could spot it (no) and heard a Hooded Warbler singing a little further away. Then a hawk flew through the trees and landed and we got short looks at a Broad-winged Hawk, likely a migrant. We moved on and found Summer Tanagers in several places, all singing away and in one case two were chasing each other.

When we got to the swamp we heard Louisiana Waterthrush, Yellow-throated Warbler, Northern Parula, Yellow-throated Vireo, and then spotted a Cape May Warbler. There were birds moving through the trees everywhere but they were way in the back so we couldn’t see what most were. We did have good looks at a couple of Prothonotary Warblers, Black and White Warbler and there are still plenty of Ruby-crowned Kinglets around. At the boat ramp we heard and saw another Prothonotary Warbler, another Hooded and lots of the ‘common’ stuff. It was a good morning!

April 21, 2018. All Women's Birding Bust.

Another year (15!!!), another long, fun, fruitful day. Judy, Dale, Anne and I started at Phinizy Swamp NP yesterday morning at 6am which is a little later than normal. This was a week earlier than normal and I was worried that we might not do well, our goal was to beat our previous high count of 118 species. Phinizy pulled through though! While we did not find the recently reported Common Goldeneye nor the Black-necked Stilt we did still have some really good birds. There were a number of shorebirds; Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Pectoral, Least, Spotted and Solitary Sandpipers were all there. We heard both King Rail and Sora and the Least Bitterns were calling too. We usually get a single Black-bellied Whistling duck flying around at dawn, this year he flew around and around calling like crazy! Then we saw 4, and then another 3 flying into cell 3. What a great way to start the day.

We drove down Lock and Dam Road and through the park, then went to Lover's Lane. We picked up a few more species there including a Mississippi Kite. From there we went to Merry Ponds, an area we usually don't enter for this count. The roads were dry although there are a few deep ruts, and while we found no ducks we did find an active rookery which included nesting White Ibis! This may be a first for Richmond County, research still pending. We also had a Bald Eagle and a Caspian Tern. You really don't realize how big they are until you see them flying close by.

After hitting Popeye's for House Sparrows, we were off to Yuchi. Along the way we decided to make a quick swing through Anne's neighborhood to try for House Finches and what we found was a small group of warblers including Cape May and American Redstart with a bonus Eurasian Collared-dove. Having the Collared-dove and the Eagle we didn't have to make a few side trips which was good because we were running way behind our normal schedule.

At Yuchi we had to work a bit go get some of the birds that are normally 'give me' birds and even missed a few. We found a Kentucky Warbler at the Vogtle boat ramp and heard a Wood Thrush in the woods along River Road. We got buntings and grosbeaks and Prairie Warblers but Pewees, Acadian Flycatchers and Nighthawks aren't here yet.

Our last scheduled stop was our Chuck-wills-widow stop and just as we pulled up one was singing, so we continued on a few hundred feet and heard Whip-poor-wills. While I had been worried about getting our count, we were now at 118, tied for highest!! Could we pull out one more species? Unfortunately, no. We could not find a Common Nighthawk nor Screech or Great Horned Owls so we end yet another year at 118 species, the fourth time we have reached that total. Will we finally manage to get to 119 next year? Lois Stacey.

Augusta-Aiken Audubon Society
4542 Silver Bluff Rd.
Jackson, SC 29831
Phone: 803-471-0291

President: Paul Koehler
Vice President: Lois Stacey
Secretary: Mary Pallon
Treasurer: Gerald May

AAAS Web Site:

Webmaster: Gene Howard,




(Gene Howard)