Day 11 – more island birding

Caspian Tern – a new GABRaT ll tick – and an interesting id challenge amongst the hundreds of Royal Tern

On our last full day birding in Georgia we headed for Tybee Island, the most northerly in the island chain protecting the Georgia coast. We spent several hours strolling up and down North Beach (twice), checking out the terns, gulls and waders in the high tide roost. We managed to add two scarce terns – Caspian and Gull-billed – to our GABRaT ll trip list and I managed to find no fewer than ten colour ringed birds – Royal Tern, Black Skimmers and Ruddy Turnstone. I’ve already sent off the details and eagerly await their collective histories in due course. After lunch we visited the adjacent Cockspur Island, the site of the imposing and supposedly impregnable Fort Pulaski. The brick-built fort, part of the Third System Forts – a string of Atlantic coastal defences which include Fort Jefferson on Dry Tortugas – was constructed between 1829 and 1847. Occupied by the Confederates, after the eleven southern States seceded from the Union in 1861, Fort Pulaski was a key defensive position in the Civil War. Under increasing pressure from the advancing Federalist navy, the Confederates abandoned nearby Tybee Island. This was a moved which proved the undoing of their fortress stronghold. Over a two month period Capt. Quincy A Gillmore installed 11 artillery batteries of 36 heavy guns and mortars along the Tybee shore. At over a mile away they were considered by the Confederates to represent a minimal threat. Unfortunately for them Quincy had access to the latest weaponry, including rifled barrels on his heavy guns. Their capacity to penetrate the walls of the fort and threaten an explosion of the fort’s magazine led to the Confederates surrender, in just 30 hours of hostilities. As well as being a historic site of considerable interest the island is also home to some good birds. In just a couple of hours we found three species of sparrow – Swamp, Chipping and Savannah – Eastern Kingbird, Piping Plover and a good supporting cast of other stuff. Tomorrow we push on north into South Carolina – a new State list and some more interesting places to explore.

Ruddy Turnstone – one of ten birds found this morning with coloured rings or flags. Records have already been despatched to the US banding (ringing) authorities
The lighthouse on Cockspur Island
Savannah Sparrow – one of three sparrow species found on Cockspur Island this afternoon
This entry was posted in Birding.

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