On June 28 I finished up my Breeding Bird Survey routes for 2016. I wrote about a route that I surveyed that spanned eastern Mecklenburg County into Stanly County in May. The second route I committed to cover was more coastal, from Columbus County into Brunswick County.
The route starts in Hallsboro and runs around Lake Waccamaw on the west and south sides. Most of the stops are in rural country with scattered homes and clustered development. There are a good number of stops at bridges where wooded swamps carry the overflow from Waccamaw.
I find those stops are the most interesting since the species’ encountered are a bit different from Piedmont breeders. The creeks and wet roadside ditches attract large numbers of waders and I was lucky to tally cattle egrets, snowy egrets, white ibis, and even wood storks at several stops. Though prothonotary warblers are local breeders in Mecklenburg County, they are abundant in the hardwood swamps of the coastal plain. Multiple quarreling males were conspicuous at every bridge stop.
But all the good stuff wasn’t just at bridges. I heard the calls of Northern bobwhite at a few survey points; the clear bob-white that was so familiar in my youth is now absent from much of its former range. Similarly, the decline of loggerhead shrikes continues; I missed that species altogether. Maybe I just happened to miss them this year. Summer tanagers and yellow-billed cuckoos were especially abundant. Here locally I consider them to be uncommon.
It is always exciting to add a new species to the historic record of any route. This year I was able to locate a worm-eating warbler, or should I say it located me, becoming very agitated when all I did was step out of my vehicle. I suppose it had fledged young nearby.
Also, ruby-throated hummingbird was not on the species list that was given to me. I find it hard to believe that a hummingbird had never been recorded along the survey route but if true, I observed one feeding at trumpet vine, thus officially adding that species.
By the end of the 25 mile route I had counted 62 species, a nice total and consistent with past years, which overall is nice to see.
Taylor Piephoff is a naturalist with an interest in the birds and wildlife of the southern Piedmont: PiephoffT@aol.com. Check out his blog at piedmontbirding.blogspot.com