Updated: Jan 3
For the New Year I have set a goal to visit the Top 50 Birding Hotspots in Charleston ranked on eBird. I will write a blog about the experience, share pictures, share the ebird checklist, and include a map of my effort. Some of the Hotspots on the list are located on private property or require a boat to access. I will focus on the public accessible hotspots. Let's go birding in Charleston!
On New Year's Day I received a rare bird alert that 3 White-winged Doves were observed at Patriot's Point. I quickly decided to make Patriot's Point my first Hotspot visit of the year. Patriot's Point is ranked #7 on ebird with 254 bird species recorded all time. I have not visited Patriot's Point in some time as the habitat has changed overtime with storm destruction and development. I started at the trailhead on Patriot's Point Road near the baseball fields and was immediately greeted by Yellow-rumped Warblers, a very active Downy Woodpecker and a group of squeaky American Robins. The first leg of the trail was fairly quiet until I heard what sounded like a woodpecker drumming on a tree, I looked up and saw a cozy Gray Squirrel peeking out of a hole in a bare tree. Further down the trail I found an active group of song birds mixed in some low brush. I heard short spee calls from a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, continuous chatter from a nearby Ruby-crowned Kinglet and chimp calls from several Song Sparrows. I made a few "phishing" sounds to draw the birds atop the brush and I was graced with an Orange-crowned Warbler and a White-eyed Vireo! I continued down the trail and could hear a large number of birds in the distance. I followed the sound leaving the trail. I crossed a road and peeked through the brushy tree line to discover a muddy work area with a filth of bathing European Starlings and a flock of resting Killdeer. Walking back to the trail I noticed a small falcon perched high in a bare tree, it was an American Kestrel! At this point I have not located the White-winged Doves, they were reported earlier in the morning near the golf course maintenance shed so I continued in that direction. I searched the area only finding 4 Mourning Doves. I decided to move on and explore the last segment of the trail which has some wetland habitat and leads to a harbor Lookout. The wetlands provided several Swamp Sparrows and a vocal Winter Wren. I made it to the end of the trail and walked up the stairs to the harbor Lookout. It was a beautiful view over the marsh and calm harbor. As I scanned the water I could spot a few wintering Horned Grebes, several groups of Buffleheads, and a bunch of Great-crested Cormorants on a sandbar. I missed out on the White-winged Doves but really enjoyed the trip! I recorded 52 different species and 362 individual birds. The trip took 1 hour and I walked 1.3 miles.
eBird checklist: https://ebird.org/checklist/S125136480
As I finished up the Patriot's Point Trip a friend and fellow birder shared with me that a rare Hummingbird was visiting a local nectar feeder. I decided to join Elizabeth & Jonathan to look for the Hummingbird. As soon as I arrived the Rufous Hummingbird was buzzing around the feeder along with a Western Tanager and 6 Baltimore Orioles! This was an incredible finish to an already great day of birding! Thank you to Ms. Alison for allowing us to enjoy her yard feeders!