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Birding Sullivan's Island, eBird Hotspot #35

Updated: Feb 27

Sullivan's Island--Accreted Land (East) is eBird Hotspot #35 with 181 species of birds recorded. Located along the beach access boardwalk from station 27 on Sullivan's Island.

Sullivan's Island Dunes
Sullivan's Island Dunes

It was a cool morning with sun and clouds. I parked near the beach access at station 27 on Sullivan’s Island. As I exited the car I was graced with gentle coos from 3 Mourning Doves perched on a utility wire. I proceeded to the boardwalk and began to hear several familiar songbirds including Northern Cardinals, Carolina Wrens, Carolina Chickadees and a Blue Jay.

I stayed in this spot as the birds continued to be active and stay in close proximity. The Myrtle Warblers were numerous and showing more colorful feathers as we approach springtime. A sleek Gray Catbird was curious but stayed hidden in the brushy tangles along the pathway. A beautiful Northern Flicker flew to the top of a bare tree primed for a great photograph but was spooked before I could get the shot. As I was enjoying the surrounding nature two Carolina Wrens shared a loud conversation within feet of me on the boardwalk.

I continued a little further and noticed an adorable fuzzy Rabbit just sitting near the edge of the boardwalk. I took a few photographs and slowly walked by, the rabbit seemed totally OK with my presence.

Rabbit

As I neared the end of the boardwalk I took in the wonderful view of the freshwater pond against the dunes and ocean, three amazing habitats.

Freshwater Habitat
Freshwater Habitat

I quickly noticed several Common Gallinules and American Coots foraging along the grass of the freshwater pond. The Gallinules are year-round residents and the Coots are winter residents. It was unique to get this close to the American Coots as they can be very easy to spook. They are beautiful birds when you get to see them up close, they have black and gray feathers with a white bill and a red eye.

American Coot
American Coot

American Coot
American Coot

I stood on the boardwalk over the pond for bit of time to listen and look for more birds. I noticed some new migrants flying over the water. There were 4 Purple Martins maneuvering in the sky for insects. I could hear a couple of local Marsh Wrens singing while staying hidden in the pond vegetation. I headed to the beach and walked the shoreline toward station 26. The shoreline was quiet with a few gulls and terns flying over the breaking waves. The views and fresh ocean air provided a positive and peaceful energy.

Sullivan's Island Beach
Sullivan's Island Beach

Continuing forward I made it to station 26 and explored the large reeded area for more birds. I heard two brief ker-wee calls from a small rail called a Sora, this is a wintering bird with dark feathers and a yellow bill. As I was focused on listening for the Soras a Male Mallard flew right over the boardwalk providing a great view of its bright colors.

Mallard
Mallard

As I proceeded blackbird and grackle chatter filled the air. There was a large mixed flock of Common Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds and few Brown-headed Cowbirds scattered throughout the brushy wetland habitat.

At the end of the boardwalk I noticed a small group of Blue Jays gathered at the top of a leafless tree. The flock began making various communication calls before flying out of sight.

Right as I was concluding the trip an energetic Brown Thrasher flew to a high perch and serenaded me with a series of conversation like song phrases.

It was a great trip exploring this fantastic hotspot that offers several thriving habitats within a short walk. The beach and boardwalk provided breathtaking and natural views. This is a great spot to explore for any bird watcher or anyone that appreciates nature. The walk covered .78 of a mile in 53 minutes. I identified 37 species of birds with a total of 208 individual birds.

eBird checklist: https://ebird.org/checklist/S130642069


Happy Birding!

-Charles