Important Bird Areas

Morse Creek Inlet/Bay Point Island

South Carolina

Morse Creek Inlet/Bay Point Island represents a unique coastal topography where a moderately sized tidal creek, (100" in width) cuts through a narrow dune line and enters the ocean. On either side lies approximately one half mile of dunes and beach, perhaps 100 yards wide. Shifting spits and bars occupty the inlet. This site is important bird habitat throughout the year but stands out especially in winter as a shorebird roosting and feeding area. It holds approximately 5000 shorebirds per day from December-March at high tide. Maximums approach 7000-8000 birds. During summer months, large numbers of gulls, pelicans and terns (most notably Royal, Least and Black) roost here.
Morse Creek Inlet is located between Bay Point Island and St. Phillips Island on the northern side of Port Royal Sound. It is accessible only by boat and is best reached by first entering the mouth of Morse Creek behind Bay Point Island, then proceeding through the creek to its seaward end.

Ornithological Summary

Bay Point Island is important since it is situated on the north side of Port Royal Sound and is one of the last undeveloped islands on the South Carolina coast. It is particularly important to shorebirds since the area has little human disturbance and serves as a major resting and foraging area for migrating shorebirds.
No other area within miles approaches the holding power of this island and inlet to shorebirds in winter. Primary species utilizing the site are Dunlins, Short-billed Dowitchers, Western Sandpipers (WatchListed) and Semipalmated Plovers. WatchListed Red Knots are sighted regularly numbering up to 500. Black-bellied Plovers, Sanderlings (WatchListed), Willets, Ruddy Turnstones and Least Sandpipers round out the daily fare, with WatchListed Wilson's Plovers being sighted regularly and Endangered Piping Plovers occasionally. Other WatchList species using the site include Whimbrels during migration and American Oystercatchers(AMOY), both inwinter and breeding season. AMOY nests have been observed.

Conservation Issues

There is a moderate threat to the birds found on Bay Point Island presented by summer boaters who bring their dogs to run free on the beach. The main threat is the apparent intent to develop the island for residential and/or vacation homes. This would not only disrupt the maritime forest environment, but would also add to the activity on the beach and severely disrupt the shorebird use found here.

Ownership

Bay Point Island is privately owned and access is restricted above the mean high water line on the beach.

Habitat

The dominant habitat on Bay Point Island is open beach and intertidal mud flats. This is the attraction for the numbers of shorebirds found here, but there is also a great deal of acerage given to open dune fields. There is also a small fringe of salt marsh and a small, but impressive, stand of maritime forest in the upland area of the island.

Land Use

There is currently no activity on Bay Point Island. There was one vacation home, but this has been removed.

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