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Pitt Street Causeway, eBird Hotspot #13

Updated: Jan 13, 2023

Pitt Street Causeway or what most locals call it Pitt Street Bridge is one of my favorite birding hotspots. It is easy to access and provides an incredible up close interaction with the tidal marsh, oyster beds and mud flats. The bridge also provides amazing views of the Charleston Harbor including downtown and the Ravenel Bridge. I recommend this hotspot for all birders and enthusiasts! Pitt Street Causeway ranks #13 on eBird with 232 species of birds recorded.

The trip started at 8:35am and it was a picture prefect day! The tide was high which can be ideal for viewing several bird species like Saltmarsh & Nelson's Sparrows, Terns, Grebes, Ducks, and Marsh Wrens. I walked the road leading to the Bridge surveying the docks, Live Oaks and tidal marsh. The docks on both sides were loaded with birds! The dock on the East side had a flocks of 45 White Ibis and 29 Snowy Egrets. The long dock on the Harbor side had a variety of resting birds including, Ring-billed Gull, Laughing Gull, Herring Gull, Forster's Tern, Royal Tern, Ruddy Turnstone, American Oystercatchers, Willet, a Belted Kingfisher, and an Osprey!

I finished counting the birds when a curious Swamp Sparrow captured my attention. I moved closer and discovered a flutter of sparrows along the edge of the marsh grass. Saltmarsh and Nelson's Sparrows inquisitively surrounded me showing orange and buffy feathers. These sparrows are usually very timid and secretive but once in while on the right occasion you can have an extraordinary close interaction like this one. I stood there and observed the birds for about 15 minutes, getting super close views of both Nelson's and Saltmarsh Sparrows. Even a couple of Marsh Wrens joined the show and one Seaside Sparrow decided to stay hidden in the grass.

I finally made it to the bridge entrance and found a group of fancy looking ducks called Hooded Mergansers. The male duck sports a large crest with a white spot along with some elegant striping on the body. The female has a frosted brown crest and white markings on the wings. The Male disappeared under the tranquil water returning with a fresh crustacean breakfast clasped in its bill.

I continued along the bridge enjoying the wonderful clear views of the Ravenel Bridge and the Charleston Harbor. Surveying the tranquil Harbor I spotted several Buffleheads, a Common Loon and a Horned Grebe. Behind me I could hear approaching whistles of two American Oystercatchers, they flew past and landed on the sandy edge of the marsh. A graceful Northern Harrier entered my line of sight as it was patrolling the marsh grass for unsuspecting prey.

Walking the Bridge I could hear some noisy Clapper Rails scattered throughout the Marsh. Pitt Street Bridge is one of the best places to experience these Charleston Natives. The Clapper Rail makes a repeated "kek kek kek" call and if you are lucky enough you can catch a glimpse of them navigating the tidal marsh at low tide. Here is a Capper Rail picture previously taken at Pitt Street Bridge.

A small group of Boat-tailed Grackles landed in a tree on the edge of the bridge pathway. Most people might overlook the Boat-tailed Grackles as they are a common year-round resident but if you view the male at just the right angle you can see a beautiful greenish iridescence.

At the end of the dock I found a lone Brown Pelican, a group of resting Double-crested Cormorants and a Great Blue Heron atop a mound of Oystershells. I finished the walk taking in the blissful views and enjoying the delightful weather. I found 48 species and counted 506 individual birds. The trip took 1 hour and 10 minutes and I walked .75 miles.

Happy Birding!