Conservation // 2 min Read

In the Field: September Eye to the Sky

Written by Palmetto Bluff

Sep 07, 2021

August was the definition of “the dog days of summer.” Between the heat and rain, many of us grimaced anytime we had to leave the comfort of our air conditioning. Nonetheless, people were still out birdwatching and observing the seasonal shifts in activity. Tree swallows began popping up in the area, though it will be later in the migration that we witness their feathered storm. Hummingbird abundance also increased as the northern individuals started making their way through. Make sure to keep your hummingbird feeders clean and the nectar fresh! Meanwhile, immature raptors, such as Cooper’s and red-tailed hawks, were seen flying around flaunting their newfound independence.

Cooper's Hawk
Cooper’s Hawk

We also received word of a leucistic bluebird that was spotted flying around Longfield stables. This bird is likely either Blanca or the fledgling from this past summer, but it is great to hear of any sightings of this fascinating mutation! And finally, the rattling calls of belted kingfishers, which are here year-round, returned to the marsh as they dispersed from their neighboring breeding habitat.

Leucistic bluebird [Photo provided by Sharon Pepe]
Leucistic bluebird [Photo provided by Sharon Pepe]

As we made our way through August, I was concerned that we may not see many of the early migrating warblers mentioned in last month’s post. Conservancy staff witnessed one yellow warbler, but the other species had gone undocumented. However, that all changed when we had a wonderful conversation with Dr. Ballance and Mrs. Watkins who were visiting Palmetto Bluff to relax and photograph wildlife. They had taken amazing photos of black-and-white warblers, yellow warblers, American redstarts, prairie warblers, and northern parulas along with many of our more common species seen around the Bluff. Among their collection of photographs, they also shared the first documentation of a blue-winged warbler at Palmetto Bluff, which made it our 213th bird species! To say this bird is rarely seen in Beaufort or Jasper County is an understatement. There are only 34 eBird records in our area, with some dating back as far as 1986, and most were documented in April or September. We hope the abundance of warblers the couple saw is a sign that we will have a fantastic migration!

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