Jekyll Island Winter Birds

February 20, 2014 at 5:05 am (Birds - Georgia, Georgia, Georgia State Parks, Nature, Photography, Wildlife) (, , )

Black-and-White Warbler

Black-and-White Warbler

The Great Backyard Bird Count has expanded beyond backyards into anywhere birders wish to pursue their avian quarry as citizen scientists.  Birder friend Marilyn and I joined Lydia Thompson’s group on Jekyll Island, Georgia, after photographing the combined sunrise/moonset on the north beach that you might have seen in my previous post.

Black-and-White warbler

Black-and-White warbler

We split into three groups, with ours led by a very good birder Mike Chapman.  I’m usually not the first to spot a bird, although I can still hear the very high notes of the cedar waxwings – which many people my age can’t register anymore.  But I did find the black-and-white warbler scouring the oaks for insects.

Butterbutt (Yellow-rumped warbler)

Butterbutt (Yellow-rumped warbler)

With a variety of habitats – from hardwoods to pond to marsh to beach – the birding on this island can be darned good.  Even the butterbutts (which have a pat of “butter” on their rumps) were good fodder for the camera lens.  Speaking of which, my D600 was in the shop for sensor cleaning, so I had to use the Nikon D80 – which was slow and frustrating to use.  I also used the Canon SX-40 which seems to be developing a focusing problem after 2 years of heavy use.  It’s a wonder I have something worth posting.

Male Hooded Merganser

Male Hooded Merganser

Not all bird images need to be closeups.  This has an Oriental art feel to it somehow, with a handsome hooded merganser sliding on the blue marsh glass at high tide.  In two hours this would be a mudflat.

Willet in flight

Willet in flight

The observation tower by the Welcome Center at the toll booth is where we saw the majority of the wading and shorebirds, from avocets to a whimbrel and marbled godwits, among others.

Willet landing

Willet landing

It also gave us an unusual above-the-bird view of the willets landing nearby.

Dunlin, wihter plumage

Dunlin, winter plumage

The sandpipers on the beach in their winter garb give me some trouble, but Mike set me straight on these dunlins.  They are much more striking in their breeding feathers, which we probably won’t see in Georgia.  Their black legs and long black bill with its downward curve are the features to look for.

Western Sandpiper

Western Sandpiper

I didn’t realize until I edited the photos that this wasn’t a dunlin.  The western sandpiper’s black bill is much shorter, and the legs aren’t quite black.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

After a picnic lunch we went to the amphitheater pond and saw dozens of black-crowned and yellow-crowned night herons resting on the shrubs facing the water.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Yellow-crowned Night Heron

Even though I spent one day a week for six months volunteering on Jekyll Island for the Georgia Sea Turtle Center,  I did not know the amphitheater existed.  Nor did I know there was a feeding station in the campground.

Male cardinal in Spanish Moss

Male cardinal in Spanish Moss

Marilyn wanted to see the female summer tanager and female painted bunting that had been seen there earlier, but we saw plenty of cardinals and the other usual suspects instead.

Scare-Owl

Scare-Owl

We also noted a great-horned owl that wasn’t doing a very good job of scaring away the fish crows.  Maybe if he moved once in awhile, but no, he’s in the same pose day and night.

Gull???

Gull???

We also recorded a gargantuan gull of some sort, probably a seagull.  Though it does kind of look like a masked booby, too.

Shrimp boat sailing out

Shrimp boat sailing out

A shrimp boat sailed out near the fishing pier with its nets airing out like anhinga wings, and we had a shrimp dinner on the Jekyll River waterfront as the sun set.  Mike shared the checklist with us on eBird, which I have only recently begun to use.  It’s a marvelous way to record your sightings, and tracks bird species and populations over the years to keep tabs on potential problems.  It keeps track of your life list, too.  I guess I’ll have to go through my bird books and start adding my 50 years’ worth of birds.  Wonder how big my life list is?

Photos and text copyrighted by Cindy McIntyre

Feel free to reblog or share

Website:  CindyMcIntyre.com

Online gallery:  Smugmug

To purchase these prints online:  Georgia Birds Gallery

Original hand-painted BW photographs for sale:  Etsy

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1 Comment

  1. Ron said,

    Sitting here in central Ohio, looking out the window at piles of dirty snow, these pics evoke both awe and envy.

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