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 in fall and in spring usually begin at 8 a.m. and end around noon. Winter trips usually begin at 9:00 am and end around noon. Summer filed trips during the hot weather usually begin at 8 am and end around 11 am. Check this webpage and the newsletter for field trips that begin at different times.

For many of our fieldtrips we meet at Popeye's Resturant at the corner of Walton Way and the Gordon Highway (Hwy 1) in downtown Augusta.

Another site for field trips is the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park. Directions to the park can be found on the Southeastern Natural Sciences Academy website at www.phinizyswamp.org .

The Brick Pond Park in North Augusta is another favorite fieldtrip venue.

From Augusta take the 13th street bridge to North Augusta. 13th Street becomes Georgia Avenue. Turn left at the light just beond the City of North Augusta Municipal Buildiing. Immediately turn left on Center Drive. Center Drive ends at Railroad Avenue. Turn left. Just before the Bridge, turn left on Brick Pond Park Road which leads to the parking lot.

From I-20 take the Matintown Road Exit. Drive South East on Martintown Road and turn right on Georgia Avenue. At the Cty of North Augusta Municipal Building turn right and turn left on Center Drive. From Center Drive follow the directions above.

Directions to other field trip venues can be found on the Local Birding Sites
page on this website.

If you have questions concerning a field trip, please contact the listed field trip leader.

Anne Waters can be contacted at: 706 793 2788.

Lois Stacey can be contacted at: croakie@comcast.net; 803-215-1594

January 31, Saturday - Phinizy Center Waterfowl Trip - Anne and Lois will lead a driving trip for Phinizy Center at the park. Meet at 9am in the parking lot. Phinizy Center charges a fee for non-members.

February 7, Saturday - Jackson Boat Landing Road. Meet at the Kathwood Ponds at Silver Bluff at 9am to carpool to Jackson Boat Landing Road. We will bird along the road looking for woodland birds until about noon. Lois Stacey leads.

February 14, Saturday - North Augusta Brickyard Ponds - meet at the parking area on Center Street in North Augusta at 9am. We will bird around the park looking for ducks and woodland birds until about 9am. Lois Stacey and Anne Waters lead.

February 14, Saturday - North Augusta Brickyard Ponds - meet at the parking area on Center Street in North Augusta at 9am (behind the Municipal Building). We will bird around the park looking for ducks and woodland birds. We will submit our lists for the Great Backyard Bird Count. Lois Stacey and Anne Waters lead.

February 28, Saturday -Lover's Lane - meet at the Popeye's at Gordon Highway and Walton Way at 9am to carpool. We will bird looking for winter residents until about noon. Lois Stacey and Anne Waters lead.

March 7, SaturdayClark’s Hill Waterfowl and Small Birds. Meet at the Clark’s Hill Visitor Center at 9am. The Visitor’s Center is on the South Carolina side of the dam. We will carpool around the area checking the below dam areas and the lake for small birds, waterfowl and gulls. We may go to Parksville and over to the Lincoln County side. Bring a lunch or snacks as we will likely go into the afternoon. Lois Stacey and Anne Waters lead.

March 14, SaturdayMerry Brother’s Ponds. Meet at the Popeye’s at Gordon Highway and Walton Way to carpool at 9am. We will carpool to the ponds and look for waterfowl. Lois Stacey and Anne Waters lead.

March 21, SaturdayCrackerneck WMA. This is a wonderful area that is only open to non-hunters twice a year. Meet at the sign-in area at Crackerneck at 9am. From the Old Jackson Highway in Jackson go past the post office and then at the ball field, turn right and drive until you see a sign pointing to the left where the road turns dirt. Turn here to reach the area. We will drive the WMA roads looking to see what we can find in the dove fields and woods and along the creeks and river. Lois Stacey and Anne Waters lead.

April 4, SaturdaySilver Bluff Audubon Center. Meet at the Kathwood Ponds on Silver Bluff Road (where the pavement ends) at 8am. We will either bird the area around the ponds or drive down Silver Bluff Road and bird beyond the gate. Route will be determined by weather and water levels in the ponds. Lois Stacey and Anne Waters lead.

April 11, SaturdayYuchi WMA Wings and Things. Meet at Phinizy Swamp Nature Park at 8am to carpool to Yuchi. This is a naturalists field trip and we will look for birds, butterflies and dragonflies as well as anything else we find. Bachman’s Sparrows, Common Ground Doves and warblers can usually be found here easily this time of year. Bring a lunch as we will go into the afternoon. Lois Stacey and Anne Waters lead. NOTE: This is an active hunting area so please dress appropriately in bright colors, especially orange.

April 18, SaturdayLover’s Lane. Meet at the Popeye’s at Walton Way and Gordon Highway at 8am to carpool. Migrants should be moving through and we will look for them. Lois Stacey and Anne Waters lead.

May 2, SaturdayAiken County Migration Count. Meet at 7:30 at Silver Bluff Kathwood Ponds unless you already have a territory. We will count every bird we see and report them to the Carolina Bird Club to be compiled with others around the state. Bring a lunch, we meet at 1pm to count down.

May 9 , SaturdayDilane Plantation WMA Wings and Things. This is a wonderful area in Burke County that is managed for Bobwhite Quail and Turkey. Meet at the Phinizy Swamp Nature Park parking area at 8am to carpool. We will look for these and other nesting birds. It is also a great place for butterflies and we will look for dragonflies as well. Lois Stacey and Anne Waters lead. NOTE: This is an active hunting area so please dress appropriately in bright colors, especially orange.

May 16, Saturday – Phinizy Swamp Beaver Dam Trail. – Meet at Phinizy at 8am. We will walk the Beaverdam Trail along the bluff and over the creek looking for nesting birds and late migrants. We will loop over the green and blue trails and back to the parking lot through the woods. Lois Stacey and Anne Waters lead.

May 30, SaturdayCarolina Sandhills NWR. – This is a huge National Wildlife Refuge near McBee, SC. We will meet at the gas station at exit 1 from I-20 in North Augusta at 7am to carpool. It takes approximately 2 hours to reach the refuge. This area is home to a number of Red-cockaded Woodpecker colonies and we will check at least one for the birds. There are also extensive woods, a wildlife drive, ponds and a beautiful seep area that contains several different Pitcher Plants, Sundews, Orchids and Lilies. We will explore as much of the area as we can looking for birds, butterflies, dragonflies and wildflowers. Bring a lunch and water. We will head back in the afternoon and may not be back until late. Lois Stacey and Anne Waters lead.

HIGHLIGHTS FROM FIELD TRIPS

Augusta Christmas Bird Count, December 20, 2014

The 2014 Augusta Christmas Bird Count was held in cloudy drizzle with temperatures 40-40 deg. We had 28 people in 12 teams plus one feeder counter. We counted 13,141 individuals of 114 species.

This is the 55th year we’ve done this count. Our species count is below the 123 we had in 2005 but not as low as 105 for 2009.

Several unusual birds were found. On Lover’s Lane a Barn Swallow was photographed by Mark Vukovich. It’s unusual to have one winter here but one has been seen on 2 other counts.

In Merry ponds a Greater-black-backed immature Gull was seen. Unusual away from the coast, this bird occasionally wanders to our area.

Other note-worthy species were Bonaparte’s and Herring Gulls. Hairy Woodpecker, Purple Finch, Rusty Blackbirds and Pine Sisken, Bittern, Bald Eagle, Merlin, Shrike, Black and White Warbler (7), Brown Creeper (3), Winter Wren (2), Marsh Wren (4), Fox Sparrow (11),and White-crowned Sparrows (4).

We also had highest counts ever for 7 species: White Ibis (56), Lesser Scaup (106), Ring-billed Gull (1,333), Catbird (8), Orange-crowned Warbler (16), Yellow-throated Warbler (4) and Cardinals (344).

Red-winged Blackbirds had a low count of 789. A Peregrine Falcon was seen count week but not count day. In fact we missed 7 other species we know are here but weren’t seen on count day: Barn and Screech Owls, Virginia Rail, White-breasted Nuthatch, Woodcock, Turkey and Black-crowned Night Heron.

Fourteen species of ducks were seen including 2 unusual Red-breasted Mergansers and a Redhead but no Pintails this year.

We had good field coverage. I would like to thank everyone who came out in bad weather to count birds: Lois Stacey, Ruth Mead, Chris Feeney, Calvin Zippler, Shane and Jamie Sherwood, Mark Vukovich, Judy Gregory, Willie Malpass, Jen McGruter, Helen Aiken, Joyce King, Liam Wolff, George Reeves, Mary Pallon, Eric Monaco, Helen Beleucan, Gary Smith, Alice and Doug Walker, Larry and Carol Eldridge, Paul Koehler, J.P. Moss, Sam Murray, Mac McCall, Betsy Ristoph.

Anne Waters, compiler.

Aiken Christmas Bird Count, December 24, 2014

The 2014 Aiken Christmas Bird count was held December 24th in heavy rain which was reported at over 4 inches for the day, more in the morning. We were surprised to see 20 people come out to count in 10 field teams.

Most counting was done from vehicle windows but some ventured out during lulls in the rain and a few counted only their feeders.

Not surprisingly this was the lowest species count ever at only 70. We counted 5.745 individual birds. Evidently Rock Pigeons don’t like rain because none were seen. We did have 33 Eurasian Collared Doves.

Six species of ducks were seen including 2 Blue-winged Teal that have never been seen on an Aiken CBC. Another unusual bird was a Peregrine Falcon seen at Wexford Mill. This is only the second time that bird has been seen on an Aiken count.

Four Purple Finches were seen but no Pine Siskens. A Vesper Sparrow was found with Savannah Sparrows in a sunflower field. Hooded Mergansers evidently liked the rain since 95 of them were counted. Then there were 5 White-breasted Nuthatches seen when none could be found on the Augusta CBC.

The only Owl found was 1 Great-horned Owl. Eight Shrikes were good finds. The most numerous birds were 1,133 Red-wings, 1,049 Robins and 533 Cedar Waxwings.

Other noteworthy birds were 2 Brown Creepers, 2 Blue-headed Vireos and 150 Rusty Blackbirds.

Thanks go to those hardy individuals who counted birds in the rain: Charlie Campbell, Willie Malpass, Lois Stacey, Anne Waters, George Reeves, Paul Sykes, Mark Vukovich, Chris Shelton, J.P. Moss, Drew Granger, Julie Angerman, Paul Koehler, Alice and Doug Walker, Kevin, Larry and Carolyn White, Larry and Carol Eldridge.

Calvin Zippler, Compiler.

Merry Ponds, January 17, 2015

Seventeen people came along on our field trip to Merry Brother's Brickyard Ponds. It was a beautiful, sunny day with highs in the 50s and after a week or more of cloudy and rainy weather we were all ready to be outside!

We birded along the paved road and then up Haul Rd up to Boatramp Rd checking out the woods and ponds along the way. We saw a total of 44 species of birds including Gadwall, American Wigeon, Common Gallinule and a Great Black-backed Gull.

We also saw some interesting behavior as we watched a Red-winged Blackbird methodically open and eat the seeds from the pods of Trumpet Creeper. It was a very nice trip. Come and join us on our next trip!

Lois Stacey

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge and Tybee Island, January 24, 2015

We started the day with cloudy skies but no rain but when the clouds moved out it got very windy with gusts over 25 miles an hour. At one point it was actually difficult to stand to scope as the wind wanted to push us off the road. But we persevered and were well rewarded!

We saw a total of 64 bird species for the day including Bald Eagle! Ducks were scattered through the ponds but we found only one large concentration of them. While scoping that large flock that included Ring-necked Ducks, Gadwall and American Wigeon we found an Eurasion Wigeon! This was a life bird for most of us.

There were a number of gulls on the beach at Tybee including a Herring Gull eating a Starfish and lots of Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones and among them was one Purple Sandpiper. Everyone got good looks at the bird.

There were no loons, gannets or ducks on the water and because of the very high winds on the beach we decided to make a trip to Fort Pulaski instead of walking the beach. A Western Kingbird had been reported there so we went to look for it. We actually found 3!

All in all it was a wonderful day with good birds and good friends. Come and join us on our next adventure!

Lois Stacey

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