26 April, Thursday
Another early start on day six, up by 6:15 to meet artist and birder Lydia Thompson (and her friend, Priscilla), by 8a for a bird ramble.
We started our ramble up near Clam Creek, in a couple of places where the trees aren’t too tall and we could actually see the many warblers that were here today due to a “fall out,” which Lydia explained is what happens when there is wind and weather in the upper atmosphere and the warblers come down for a bit to rest. So there were a lot of warblers around, including many common yellowthroats, yellow-throated warblers (not the same as common yellowthroats!), prairie warblers, a palm warbler, black-and-white warblers, and lots of northern parulas. Lydia and Priscilla saw a few I didn’t see, including a Cape May warbler. Also saw a kingfisher on the way in.
Unfortunately, I was so busy learning to use binoculars, and warblers are so small and fast, that I didn’t get any photos of our amazing warbler morning. That’s why I’ve linked (above) to Cornell’s photos and info about the birds.
We went from there to the campground bird-feeding area, where we were treated to very blue indigo buntings and a blue grosbeak, both species I had never seen before, as well as an orchard oriole, another first for me. Also saw ruby-throated hummingbirds, cardinals, a blue-gray gnatcatcher, a brown-headed nuthatch, a tufted titmouse, cowbirds, an ovenbird, and house finches.
Then it was on to the rookery, where we used Lydia’s spotting scope to get amazing views of the spoonbills, yellow-crowned night herons, great egrets, cormorants and anhingas, among others.
As we were leaving, a pileated woodpecker landed on the ground right in front of us,
and then as we continued walking out, Lydia spotted a grasshopper sparrow near the base of a palmetto — this is apparently a rare find and we all got a good look at it in the spotting scope.
In all, Lydia and Priscilla saw about 60 or so birds, including 11 warblers; we saw fewer birds but more than enough to make my head spin!
From there, we all went to lunch at Fins (menu in PDF), another Jekyll restaurant we hadn’t been to before; in previous years, it was called Blackbeard’s but we;d never eaten there because it smelled musty inside and didn’t have outdoor seating; reincarnated as Fins, it has outdoor (almost beachfront) seating and some good food and service, with no musty smell indoors. I had jerk fish tacos with mango and cabbage for lunch — tasty.
By the time we finished eating and rested up a bit at the condo, it was around 3 in the afternoon. T and I decided to ride our bikes to the soccer fields and south end beach to see if we could spot an oyster catcher in the high tide. We passed two Eastern newt efts (I think) on the bike path … Got a pretty good shot of one of them:
We were about 2 hours too late for the tide, but still enjoyed the ride, the beach walk, and the sandpipers, terns, gulls, sanderlings, skimmers and pelicans on the beach, and the large pod of dolphins (at least 12 of them) just off shore in St. Andrew Sound, toward Cumberland Island.
On our bike ride back to the condo, we stopped at the South Dunes Picnic area to look in the ponds for alligators. Found one! A small one, who after watching us for a bit, swam over to our side. We decided to head out then.
Dinner tonight was at the (very crowded!) Rah Bar again, this time listening to live music by “Backbeat Boulevard.” (Short video of “Ain’t No Sunshine”)
More peel and eat shrimp, more red potatoes, more Amber Bock beer, and a few half-ears of corn. We got there near sunset (which was around 8:10 or so) and so it was another late night for us, especially after a stop at the Dairy Queen for a twist cone. Raccoons like the Dairy Queen, too!, but I couldn’t get a photo.
Racoons: 3 (on Riverview, at the Visitors Center trash can, at Dairy Queen)
Dolphins: 12+ off the south end
Newts: 2 Eastern (efts? on S. Beachview bike path)
Alligators: 1 (small, at South Dunes Picnic Area pond)
Turtles: 1 (pond)
Birds: Indigo buntings, kingfisher, Cape May warbler, Yellow-throated warblers, Prairie warblers, Palm warbler, Black-and-white warblers, Northern Waterthrush, Common Yellowthroats, Northern Parulas, Grasshopper Sparrow (apparently sort of rare here), Blue Grosbeak, Orchard Oriole, Cowbird, House Finches, Tufted Titmouse, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Snowy Egrets, Brown Pelicans, Yellow-crowned night herons, bluebird, Black-crowned night heron, Roseate Spoonbills, black and turkey vultures, cardinals, red-winged blackbirds, anhingas, cormorants, Spotted Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Forster’s Tern, Royal Tern, Mourning Doves, Ring-billed Gulls, Laughing Gulls, Red-bellied woodpecker, Pileated woodpecker, crows, boat-tailed grackles, sanderlings, skimmers, 2 blue herons, Carolina chickadees, Carolina Wren.
Crabs and sea animals: lots more dead jellyfish, ghost crabs, plumed worms, etc.
Dogs and cats: 1 Bernese Mountain dog on the beach; 3 pit bulls; several cats.