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

Swallow-tail

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!

Clapper

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.

Dowitchers

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┬ánearby. The haddock was pretty good (and the decorations were unexpected). Back to the hotel for an early night.