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Shem Creek Park, eBird Hotspot #50

I explored Shem Creek Park this week, a great birding hotspot located in Mount Pleasant. The Park has a boardwalk that allows you to walk out over the marsh habitat and along Shem Creek. The boardwalk provides great views of the tidal creeks, Crab Bank, Charleston Harbor and the Ravenel Bridge. Shem Creek Park ranks #50 on eBird with 156 species of birds recorded.

We have had some wonderful weather this January and this day was no exception. It was a warm, clear and sunny morning. I barely made it to the boardwalk entrance when several birds caught my attention. I could hear warbling notes from a nearby House Finch and the “psit” calls of several Yellow-rumped Warblers. I noticed some bird movement in the Smooth Cordgrass (Marsh Grass), so I slowly approached an opening to get a closer look. Two Yellow-rumped Warblers fluttered about, along with a friendly Ruby-crowned Kinglet, and 2 March Wrens peeked through the Cordgrass before disappearing.

Ruby-crowned Kinglet
Ruby-crowned Kinglet

I headed to the Boardwalk and enjoyed the welcoming views of Shem Creek and the salt marsh. A few Herons and Egrets were resting on the private docks along the tidal creeks. I made it to a small peninsula of maritime wooded growth, this habitat was quiet with the exception of a couple of Song Sparrows and one Swamp Sparrow. As I walked through the small wooded area I could hear the high pitched flight calls of Cedar Waxwings, two flocks of these sharp looking songbirds flew overhead. I continued walking when a Belted Kingfisher buzzed past me with a rapid kek-kek-kek call, while watching the kingfisher I noticed a medium sized gull with a black spot on its head floating on Shem Creek. This was a Bonaparte’s Gull, a winter resident with a very cool name. As I was looking at the Bonaparte’s Gull two Dolphins emerged from the center of Shem Creek for a breath of air! I enjoyed the majestic creatures as they proceeded toward the harbor. It is always a wonderful experience when you see Dolphins in close proximity especially in the wild.

Continuing along the boardwalk a Snowy Egret landed on the railing within about 10 feet. The Egret showed off its brilliant white feathers while battling the increasing wind. A Brown Pelican flew directly over me allowing a super close look at its colors, feather pattern and massive size.

As I approached the end of the boardwalk there were lots of gulls flying around, mostly Ring-billed Gulls searching and fighting for food. I surveyed the open water and found a Pied-billed Grebe, Buffleheads, Double-crested Cormorants and some resting gulls. A Horned Grebe provided great looks as it was feeding very close to the boardwalk, I could really see its red eyes. I finished the trip finding 43 species and counted 308 individual birds. The trip took 50 minutes and I walked .51 miles. eBird checklist: https://ebird.org/checklist/S126539644


Happy Birding!

Charles


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