Augusta-Aiken Audubon November, 2012 Newsletter

November 8, 2012                   Gene Howard, Editor, eugenefhoward@bellsouth.net
Volume 41, No. 6

NOVEMBER MEETING: The Augusta-Aiken Audubon Society will meet on Thursday, November, 8 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:Silver Bluff Audubon Center & Sanctuary: A look back through the years.” The Augusta-Aiken Audubon Society and Silver Bluff Audubon have enjoyed a close association for decades. Center Director Paul Koehler will give a look back in time at many of the scenes and activities that have taken place since Silver Bluff was “born” in 1975. Who remembers the Kathwood area before the stork ponds were constructed? Who remembers a scrawny, bearded kid from Tennessee that was hired by Dan Connelly to help manage those ponds? You’ll be sure to learn something about Silver Bluff you never knew. Come see.

Endangered Bats at Silver Bluff

Big-eared bats, Corynorhinus rafinesquii, are an endangered species in South Carolina, and Silver Bluff is doing its part to boost their numbers. Several old wood-frame tenant homes from the share-cropping days still stand (barely) on sanctuary property. They provide just the right habitat for these bats, but time and weather gradually bring these structures to the ground. The South Carolina Department of Natural Resources teamed with Silver Bluff in March of 2011 to erect an artificial bat roost near one of the old homes in hopes that it could become a more permanent home for the bats. The concrete structure, weighing 21 tons, was trucked on site in four sections and pieced together in less than an hour. A watching and waiting period began during which no bats were observed to have discovered the roost until July of 2011 when one lone male was spotted inside at the top of the tower. Except for a pair of nesting chimney swifts (that returned in 2012), only a single bat was seen during the monthly inspections. That changed dramatically just two weeks ago when 42 of the endangered bats were counted using the artificial roost along with three bats that continued to use the old tenant home. Hopefully even more bats, and perhaps other species as well, will take advantage of the secure, homey “bat tower” in the future. Monitoring reports will continue to be sent to SCDNR.

--submitted by Paul Koehler

FIELD TRIP SCHEDULE 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.

November 3, Saturday. Yuchi WMA in Burke County. We will meet at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park at 7am and carpool from there. That way we will begin birding about 8am. This area is along the Savannah River South of Augusta. Bring a picnic lunch or snack to eat mid day because we may stay until 2 or 3pm. Anne Waters and Lois Stacey lead.

November 10, Saturday. Merry Ponds. Meet at Popeyes at 9am to carpool. We will search along the paved road for small birds and then look in the ponds for arriving ducks and other water birds. Trip will end about noon. Anne Waters and Lois Stacey lead.

November 17, Saturday. Silver Bluff Audubon Sanctuary. Meet at the ponds at the entrance to the sanctuary at 9am. We will bird around the ponds and other areas in the sanctuary. Trip will end about noon. Anne Waters and Lois Stacey lead.

November 24, Saturday. Di-Lane Plantation WMA. This is an area of fields and woods South of Waynesboro, GA. We will meet at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park at 8am to carpool to this area. Bring a picnic lunch or a snack to eat mid day because we may stay until 2 or 3pm. Anne Waters and Lois Stacey lead.

December 1, Saturday. Merry Ponds. Meet at Popeyes at 9am to carpool. We will concentrate on searching the ponds for ducks which should be arriving as well as other water birds. Trip will end about noon. Anne Waters and Lois Stacey lead.

December 8, Saturday. Owl Prowl. This is an evening trip. Doug and Alice Walker will meet you at 7pm at the education building at Silver Bluff Audubon Sanctuary and will lead you to some areas to look for owls. You may just hear them but they will have lights so hopefully you will also see some of them. Trip will last about 2 hours.

December 15, Saturday. Augusta Christmas Bird Count. We will divide into teams to cover the 15 mile diameter count circle which is in GA and SC. Please let Anne Waters know if you can help with this count. We go out in teams in the morning from approximately 7:30 until 1:00. Then we eat at Popeyes and have a quick count down of what birds have been found and then some go back out in the afternoon to cover other areas. Meet at Popeyes at 7:30 that morning so that people wanting to help may join you. Even novice birders can help by being spotters. One year one of our better birds was found by a novice saying, “What’s that orange bird?” We also need people to write down what others are seeing. Contact Anne Waters to volunteer.

December 24, Monday. Aiken Christmas Bird Count. Calvin Zippler is in charge of this count. We go out on pre-assigned teams for this one so you must contact Calvin no later than December16 to be given an area to cover. You can reach Calvin at zipplerc@bellsouth.net or call 803-642-2264.

January 5, Saturday. Phinizy Swamp Nature Park. This is an all walking field trip. The ducks will have arrived in the ponds so we will take scopes to get a better look at them and other water birds as well as smaller birds along the dikes. Meet at the parking area at Phinizy at 9am. Trip will end around noon. Anne Waters and Lois Stacey lead.

FIELD TRIP HIGHLIGHTS

For reports on Recent Field Trips visit the Field Trips page at www.augustaaikenaudubon.org.

Lover's Lane and Levee, October 20, 2012

There were 8 people on our field trip to Lover’s Lane and the levee. We spotted a total of 53 species during the 4 hour field trip. The weather was cool enough for jackets and the bright sun felt good.

This was probably the last weekend to see migrants flying south for the winter. They are quiet this time of year so you must spot them up in the trees as they forage. Today we saw Blackburnian and Chestnut-sided Warblers. The Blackburnian is an unusual species not seen every year here.

A few summer birds were still here such as Catbird and White-eyed Vireo but a few of these stay for the winter. A Little Blue Heron immature was also in the levee creek.

Many of our winter birds have now arrived from the north. There were at least 8 Palm Warblers, plus the first Ruby-crowned Kinglets and Yellow-rumped Warbler. Swamp & Song Sparrows were seen. Eastern Phoebes were everywhere. House Wrens lurked in the tangled brush where they will spend the winter. Coots and Pied-billed Grebes have come in fairly good numbers but nowhere near the large numbers who will eventually winter here.

Last but not least are those birds that stay here all year. We had 3 types of hawks: Red-tailed, Red-shouldered and Coopers. Also an adult Bald Eagle flew by and a Kestrel sat on a pole. Two loggerhead Shrikes were on the wires. An Eastern Meadowlark flew over. In ponds there were Common Gallinules and Anhingas.

A lot of butterflies are around now. Some of the more unusual seen were: Texas Crescent, Painted Ladies and a Monarch which is migrating. There was also a Southern Pearly Eye perched on a tree trunk which is quite unusual here. It was an interesting morning with lovely fall weather. Anne Waters.

Merry Ponds, October 27, 2012

The sky was totally covered by clouds and the mild temperatures made it very pleasant for the 9 people who attended. We had a total of 49 species. A lot of Yellow-rumped Warblers had arrived and we had a flock of Cedar Waxwings who spend the winter here also. We had excellent looks at some of the immatures who are strange looking. A lot of Eastern Phoebes have also arrived for the winter and we had a Golden crowned Kinglet and a Palm Warbler, more winter residents. We also had nice looks at Catbirds eating persimmon fruit and a Sapsucker in Black Willows.

Moving on into the ponds we found Wood Ducks on a pond choked with Water Hyacinths where they nested this summer. In other more open ponds, we saw 3 species of ducks who winter here. It’s a bit early for them to be here but it was exciting to see them. We had 70+ Ring-necked Ducks, 32 Ruddy Ducks and 4 American Wigeon. In a shallow pond a flock of Least Sandpipers fed on a mud island. A lot of Anhingas were up in trees as well as some Double Crested Cormorants. There were a lot of Common Gallinules in the ponds and we wondered if some of them had been chased out of Phinizy Swamp by the air boats flattening the reeds there.

We had nice looks at a Red-shouldered Hawk and at a Cooper’s hawk. The sandpipers and ducks were also watching the hawks. We saw the first Black-crowned Night Heron using the winter roost pond on Foster’s Lane.

Since we met at Phinizy Swamp then carpooled to Merry, we saw 2 Loggerhead Shrikes, 6 Savannah Sparrows and 2 Eastern Bluebirds on the airport fence.

The air boats have been in Phinizy Swamp several weeks now flattening the cattails, reeds and grasses to discourage the huge blackbird roosts which were once here and were dangerous to aircraft at the airport as they flew in and out across the runway areas.

Basically, folks, the winter birds are arriving and migration seems to be over. Anne Waters

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

A-AAS Elected Officers 2010-2012
President: Lois Stacey, 803-215-1594
Vice-President: Alice Walker,803-649-5929
Secretary: Nancy Demko, 803-648-7973
Treasurer: Gerald May, 706-860-3249

A-AAS Web Site: http://augustaaikenaudubon.org/

BIG EARED BAT (Paul Koehler)

BAT ROOST (Paul Koehler)