Chatham County Big Day 01/01/16

This New Year’s Day, as I have done for the past three years, I went birding with Diana Churchill all around the Savannah area trying to find as many species as possible in one day to start the New Year off right. My list started this year at the beach house I was staying in on Tybee Island, where I heard a Eurasian Collared-Dove. While it was raining steadily in the morning, we birded Tybee South Beach from a covered pavilion. There were lots of birds here. From the pavilion, we saw flyby Black Scoters, Lesser Scaup, a (likely) partially leucistic juvenile Cooper’s Hawk and Northern Gannets. When the rain calmed down, we walked out on the beach and saw a Common Loon out in the channel on the backside of the island and a large group of Black-bellied and Semipalmated Plovers and Short-billed Dowitchers gathered on the Tybee-Little Tybee sandbar. Below is the list for Tybee South Beach.

We then headed to Hutchinson Island, where we picked up plenty more species. We saw eight Western Kingbirds, which is quite a few to be seen at once in Georgia. As we walked near the marsh at the edge of the island, three Virginia Rails called multiple times. We also walked through the brushy area that is fantastic for sparrows and saw five species.

We finished the day at Chatham County Wetlands Preserve, which was our most productive spot. We had two flyby Bald Eagles at the start of the walk. In a particularly brushy and muddy area, we had a lone Sedge Wren. There were also two Blue-headed Vireos heard and seen from the treetops. Finally, we saw two Black-and-white Warblers.

By the end of the day, we had 69 species, which is a pretty good count for one day, but far below our record New Year’s Big Day count of 93 from previous years. There were still plenty of beautiful and uncommon birds!

Tybee South Beach:

Birds (25 species, 0 lifers):

Lesser Scaup 25

Black Scoter 15

Common Loon 1

Wood Stork 1

Northern Gannet 5

Double-crested Cormorant 30

Brown Pelican 101

Osprey 2

Cooper’s Hawk 1

Black-bellied Plover 20

Semipalmated Plover 60

Ruddy Turnstone 6

Sanderling 21

Dunlin 35

Short-billed Dowitcher 40

Laughing Gull 32

Ring-billed Gull 80

Herring Gull 8

Forster’s Tern 1

Royal Tern 1

Black Skimmer 200

Carolina Wren 1

Northern Mockingbird 1

Yellow-rumped Warbler 6

Boat-tailed Grackle 25


Hutchinson Island:

Birds (29 species, 0 lifers):

Double-crested Cormorant  30

Great Blue Heron  2

Great Egret  2

Black Vulture  2

Red-shouldered Hawk  1

Red-tailed Hawk  1

Virginia Rail  3

Killdeer  3

Ring-billed Gull  1

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)  36

Mourning Dove  37

Belted Kingfisher  1

Red-bellied Woodpecker  2

Western Kingbird  8     

Loggerhead Shrike  2   

Carolina Chickadee  2

Ruby-crowned Kinglet  2

Eastern Bluebird  5

Northern Mockingbird  5

European Starling  120

Cedar Waxwing  8

Yellow-rumped Warbler  37

Chipping Sparrow  1

Vesper Sparrow  7     

Savannah Sparrow  3

Song Sparrow  3

Swamp Sparrow  2

Northern Cardinal  2

Eastern Meadowlark  12

Chatham County Wetlands Preserve:

Birds (30 species, 0 lifers):

Pied-billed Grebe  3

Black Vulture  6

Turkey Vulture  2

Bald Eagle  2

Ring-billed Gull  2

Mourning Dove  4

Belted Kingfisher  1

Red-bellied Woodpecker  2

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker  3

Downy Woodpecker  1

Northern Flicker  4

Pileated Woodpecker  2

Eastern Phoebe  1

Loggerhead Shrike  2

Blue-headed Vireo  2

Carolina Chickadee  5

Tufted Titmouse  1

Sedge Wren  1

Carolina Wren  3

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher  1

Golden-crowned Kinglet  2

Ruby-crowned Kinglet  7

Eastern Bluebird  1

Northern Mockingbird  2

Black-and-white Warbler  2

Pine Warbler  4

Yellow-rumped Warbler  35

Swamp Sparrow  1

Northern Cardinal  1

American Goldfinch  5


Western Kingbird