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Bird Watching at the Breach Inlet, eBird hotspot #41

The Breach Inlet is a beautiful coastal location between Isle of Palms and Sullivans Island. Tidal creeks flow into the Atlantic Ocean making this area an active habitat for marine life and birds. This site also has historical significance as a Revolutionary War Battle was fought at the Breach Inlet. Colonel William Thomson and 1300 Americans successfully defended North Sullivans Island against Commander Henry Clinton and Lord Charles Cornwallis advancing with 3800 British troops and naval forces. The battle took place on June 28th, 1776. The Breach Inlet is eBird Hotspot #41 with 165 bird species recorded.

Breach Inlet
Breach Inlet

It was a perfect morning on the last day of May, I grabbed my gear and headed to the beach. The first bird of the morning was a sharp looking Laughing Gull patrolling the sandy shoreline.

Laughing Gull
Laughing Gull

There were lots of folks enjoying the beach especially fisherman. The tide was going out so it was a good tide for fishing and feeding wildlife. I noticed a super cool crab closer to the beach dunes, the Atlantic Ghost Crab stayed just outside its burrow allowing for a couple of close photos.

Atlantic Ghost Crab
Atlantic Ghost Crab

Walking along the water's edge a couple of Least Terns plunged into the water with one tern successfully catching a minnow.

Least Tern
Least Tern

There weren’t any birds on the Isle Palms beach side, however there was a growing mixed flock on the sandbars in the distance.

Mixed flock on sand bar
Mixed flock on sand bar

The flock consisted of Brown Pelicans, a group of Royal Terns, several Least Terns, a Sandwich Tern and 2 Sanderlings on the edge of the sand bar.

Breach Inlet
Breach Inlet

I then headed across the bridge to the Sullivans Island side to explore more beach and Thomson Park. I counted the usual birds on the utility wires, Mourning Doves, European Starlings, Rock Pigeons and a couple of Eastern Bluebirds. I also watched a flock of Common Grackles congregate a top the Presbyterian Church. As I headed toward the beach I noticed a pair of Killdeer in the small field of Thomson Park.

Killdeer
Killdeer

This beach was also quiet so I walked to the end near the jetties and set up the spotting scope to look over the growing flocks on the sandbars. My peripheral vision caught movement on my right so I turned around and found two awesome sandpipers foraging in the draining tidal flat. A semipalmated Sandpiper and a Spotted Sandpiper.

Semipalmated Sandpiper
Semipalmated Sandpiper

Spotted Sandpiper
Spotted Sandpiper

The Spotted Sandpiper flew toward the large jetty and began to forage in the exposed rocks. I slowly positioned myself to watch this awesome sandpiper that teeters as it walks. The function of this teetering motion has not been determined but it is very fun to watch. As I enjoyed the Spotted Sandpiper bobbing around the rocks I watched it catch a small crab!


Spotted Sandpiper eating a crab
Spotted Sandpiper eating a crab

I continued walking to explore the other side of the jetty. I did not find anymore shorebirds but added a family of House Finch to the bird count. I encountered 28 species of birds covering 1.56 miles of beautiful Charleston beach.


Happy Birding,

Charles




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Michael Dryden
Michael Dryden
Jun 06, 2023

Absolutely fantastic foray into the region. Thank you so much Charles.

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