DSA 2012 Day 4 and 5

Yes, I’m finishing this up almost 2 years later.

Saturday 5/5: Indoor meeting day, nothing to say by now.

Sunday 5/6: Spent the day with Steve Hummel. We started at Lee State Park, which was pretty quiet (cloudy?). A few bluets and pennants were about it. Did have a nice watersnake and some robber flies.


We drove around a bit and ended up at Woods Bay State Park, which was a neat area but also quiet. Acadian Flycatcher was my highlight, although if we were able to get to a few of the bugs just out of reach of the boardwalk, we probably would have had something good.

No clue about lunch, dinner was one of the chains I think.

DSA 2012 Day 1 and 2

Wednesday 5/2: After a quick grocery stop for water and pretzels, I drove the 15 minutes to the main hotel and said hello to most of the crowd. I joined the Massachusetts group of Dave and Dave and after some instructions, we headed out. We got stuck at the first light and proceeded to go to the spots in the reverse order of everyone else.

At the first stop, I discovered that my net had been damaged in transit and one end was misshapen and wouldn’t fit into the next piece. After 10 minutes of trying to bend it back with Dave F, Dave S pointed out that I could just make that the end piece… Lots of Great Blue Skimmers later, we moved on.

Great Blue

Along the way to the next spot, we pulled over at a random stream crossing and found a Citrine Forktail and a few other things. We then intersected the group at the Punch Bowl. They had a few good gomphids and some other stuff. We found Gray-Green Clubtails but not the other (which I forget) plus I caught a Swamp Darner. Mississippi Kites overhead were nice too.

Mississippi Kite

We continued poking around, trying a few unexplored spots. Most were about the same, lots of common odes, Prothonotary Warblers, etc. A lunch stop at a gas station was a good break (would have liked to have noticed the fried chicken before I bought a sandwich). The afternoon stop was more of the same (plus Zebra Swallowtails).

Blue-tipped Darner

We were told to meet back at the hotel midafternoon to regroup and try some other spots. Chris arrived and said that the spot he intended was very dry, so we headed to a pond behind a housing development instead. All sorts of good stuff along the edge including Cherry Bluets, Little Blue Dragonlets, Ornate Pennants, and more.

Cherry Bluets

With a shadowdragon hunt on for the evening, we had to eat early, so we left ahead of most of the group and went to the Cuban/Mexican place that the Daves had been to the day before. My quesadilla was quite good (and the corn tortilla was very different). We went back to the hotel and caravaned to the shadowdragon site (a friend of Chris’s that has a house right on the river).

Eventually things started flying. I suspect the first couple were false alarms as I eventually got a Stream Cruiser in the net. But shadowdragons soon came out. Several were caught quickly. I was having no luck along the banks, so moved to the floating dock. After a couple misses, I got a good swing off and heard some wings in the bag. I was rather shocked to find two Umber Shadowdragons in the net! Of course I didn’t think to pull out my phone and take a photo, but people were impressed.

The flight slowed down and it got rather dark, so after a few minutes talking to our hosts, we headed back to the hotel. I made the short drive back to my hotel and went to bed.

Thursday 5/3: Up and back to Conway. Chris had booked the Coastal Carolina boats to run to some nice sandbars up one of the rivers, so we headed there first. We hung around the boat launch for a bit until they arrived and got set up. There wasn’t much around but Barn Swallows were nesting under the bridge and lots of Red Admirals and Question Marks were flying about. The ride over was quick and we found several spots to explore.

Unfortunately, there wasn’t a whole lot to see. Swamp and Cyrano Darners were flying around and lots of Common Sanddragons were on the sand (including a few freshly emerged). I poked around in the woods and had some jewelwings but otherwise it was fairly quiet. After an hour or two, we caught the boats back (and got good looks at a Yellow Rat Snake on the way).

We headed off for lunch. With the magic of phone apps, we found Gore’s BBQ nearby. A tiny place, it was excellent. The smothered chicken was delicious. The owners were exceptionally friendly and offered all sorts of extras. We split up from here, with the Daves wanting to check out Ketchuptown, while I led Dennis to Florence. After checking in, I had planned on going out to explore locally but found Nick and Ailsa Donnelly in the lobby and sat around talking to them. A large group of us went to some steak place, which was ok.

DSA 2012 Day 3

Friday 5/4: Today started at Cheraw State Park, about 40 minutes from the hotel. It was a bit cloudy when we arrived and slow to start. Working the lake shore, we found a few Blue Corporals and I got a quick look at a Banded Pennant. 

Further down, there were a few Gomphids. I wandered down the shaded stream a bit and saw some jewelwings but not much else. A few of us wandered down the road and then decided it would be faster to make a full circle instead of turning around. Turns out it was much longer (and other than a Yellow-throated Warbler outside the park there was nothing of interest).

Rejoining everyone, I fished a pair of Cypress Clubtails out of the water. Others had a couple other species that I wanted to see but I never caught up with any. Wandering back, Burgandy and Sandhill Bluets were visible.

Burgandy Bluet

Sandhills Bluet

We then broke off for lunch, finding a diner nearby. Fairly good and the break was nice.

The next stop was the nearby Cambell Lake. There were a few things along the main shore, although nothing too exciting. Others reported some good things in a clear cut a few feet up the road, so I headed over. It was pretty rough walking (lots of branches and lots of mucky spots) and I had no luck finding the rarer things (the main group of people here were the westerners who were excited by all the common stuff).

We then headed back to the hotel for an hour or two. I ran out to a CVS to get some first aid supplies as the chiggers had found me quite tasty.

We then regrouped and headed to Lynches River County Park for the evening barbecue. Food was good, conversation was good. I arranged a ride back with Dan and stayed for the shadowdragon hunting. Unfortunately we didn’t find many and all the ones caught were still Umber (although one other came in to a blacklight). 

DSA 2012 Day 0

Tuesday 5/1: Today was mostly a travel day. Early morning ride to Logan (Peregrine on the way). Easy time checking bags and through security. Flight left on time and arrived in Charlotte early. And then it was announced that there was a medical emergency on another flight and we had no gate. Almost an hour later we finally reached a gate and got off the plane. Bag came quickly and I made my way to the rental car counter, where there were only 2 people in front of me. A good 30 minutes later, I finally got to the front of the line and was set in 5 minutes. Then onto the shuttle. At the lot, the last compact was taken, so I had to grab an economy, a rather tinny Chevy Aveo.

From here, it was a quick stop at Burger King for lunch and then a long drive towards Myrtle Beach. A little after 5:00, I reached Huntington Beach State Park, which was a good hour to an hour and a half later than I had hoped. Fortunately, I only had one bird in mind, so after paying I parked at the first lot and wandered back down the causeway.

Starting at the observation platform, I could see lots of sandpipers and some teal but the sun was at the worst possible angle. I started back to walk down the road and got temporarily distracted by a Painted Bunting.

Hidden Bunting

On the road, I was able to identify most of the close shorebirds (I didn’t bother taking a scope this trip). Further out were some herons and a Wood Stork. Flying over was a Swallow-tailed Kite, the combination of which had me wondering why I had gone to Florida.

Distant Wood Stork


Walking to the other end of the causeway, I added a few more shorebirds (final list was both yellowlegs, Solitary, Spotted, Dunlin, Least, Semipalmated Sandpiper, Short-billed Dowitcher, Semipalmated Plover, and Killdeer) plus a Bonaparte’s Gull and some terns (Least and Forster’s). No sign of any rails, so I headed back and moved on to the boardwalk that goes into the saltmarsh.

Almost immediately, I heard a Clapper Rail, which was the target bird. Scanning through, I couldn’t find it but could hear another a few feet down. I decided to try that one (figured I could move back and forth until one showed) and the process repeated. But at the end of the boardwalk, I looked across the river and there was a rail sitting up at the top of the grasses!


Calling Clapper

(Click through for shaky video)

Satisfied, I wandered back, stopping for more herons (list from here included everything but Cattle Egret, Little Blue, Yellow-crowned Night, and bitterns) and for the dowitchers, which flew in close.


It was still moderately early, but I decided that I’d had enough and headed north to my hotel in Myrtle Beach. After checking in, I scanned Yelp for fish restaurants and found Mr. Fish nearby. The haddock was pretty good (and the decorations were unexpected). Back to the hotel for an early night.