Numerous great winter bids were reported from across the Carolinas (and beyond) for the Great Backyard Bird Count last weekend.
Quite a few notable finds were made in the Myrtle Beach area. A harlequin duck, extremely rare for South Carolina was reported from the jetty area at Huntington Beach State Park on Feb. 15, along with king and common eiders; long-tailed duck; eared grebe; and a fly-by razorbill.
On Feb. 16, the harlequin duck, king eider and eared grebe were not relocated, but as many as nine long-tailed ducks and four common eiders were observed, along with a harbor seal.
Harbor seals are a true rarity this far south in winter, and as many as two of these wonderful sea mammals have been reported from the jetty area recently. An Ipswich race Savannah sparrow was also found near the jetty, along with several sharp-tailed sparrows. Common and red-throated loons, horned grebes and most of the normally expected species for the jetty area were also reported.
Long-tailed ducks were also reported from across the Carolinas during the GBBC, from Folly Beach at Charleston to Hickory, N.C.
A lapland longspur was observed and photographed on Fripp Island at Beaufort Feb. 16.
A red-breasted nuthatch, purple finch and fox sparrows have been reported frequenting feeders northwest of Conway by Steve and Barbara Thomas.
A Western tanager continues its winter sojourn near Charleston, while two more were found on Roanoke Island, N.C., in addition to one that has been in residence at Southern Shores.
Two common goldeneye ducks were observed along with gadwall, green-winged teal, American wigeon, Northern shoveler and bufflehead at Donnelly Wildlife Management Area south of Charleston on Feb. 14. At nearby Bear Island, tundra swan, American avocet, a large group of glossy ibis, bald eagles, Northern harriers, and hundreds of ducks and American coots were noted.
Many folks in the local area have been delighted to report their observations of cedar waxwings recently. These sleek, beautiful birds are winter nomads that wander about searching for food resources in the form of berries. Once they find a tree or bush full of berries, they’ll often descend on it and pick it clean, then disappear as they continue their wandering ways.
The recent ice storm and associated frigid temperatures helped keep most folks’ backyard feeders busy for the duration. At my own feeders in Conway, activity by Baltimore orioles and yellow-rumped warblers reached an unusually high level, with the birds devouring an exceptional amount of dried mealworms in addition to grape jelly and sugar water from hummingbird feeders.
Reach GARY PHILLIPS at 248-4595 or email@example.com.