This summary is dedicated to Ken Scott, compiler of the Low Country CBC, who is retiring after this season. There were 26 counts conducted in South Carolina during the 115th CBC count period. Unlike last season, weather was not an important factor with only four counts affected. The results of the Pinewood count were severely reduced because of a participant's involvement in a traffic accident and the illness of another counter resulting in only half of the territories being covered. Bird-wise there was a major irruption of Pine Siskins, with them occurring on 69% of the SC counts, and a lesser movement of Purple Finches, found on 50% on the counts. Large numbers of American Robins were found on coastal counts early in the count period. The number of participants ranged from a mind-boggling 215 on the Hilton Head Island CBC to three on the Long Cane count. Half of the counts had feeder watchers and 69% did some owling. To me a disturbing trend was the two counts which while not weathered out only went for about eight hours. I encourage them to put more time and effort into these counts. The coastal counts of McClellanville and Winyah Bay tied with 170 species each. The highest Coastal Plains-Sand Hills count was the Santee N.W.R. (126 species), while the top Piedmont/Mountain count was Clemson (89).
There were nine coastal counts. Red-cockaded Woodpecker from a recently established colony was new for the ACE Basin count (144 species), as was Roseate Spoonbill. There were nine record tallies including some ducks, Bald Eagle, and Cooper's Hawk, and there were 13 new lows including the declining American Kestrel and Field Sparrow. Charleston (146 species) had record counts of Gadwall, Sora, and Nelson's Sparrow but 10 new lows including Hairy Woodpecker, Canvasback, and Field Sparrow. Even with 215 participants the Hilton Head Island CBC (141 species) was well organized and well executed with efforts from daylight counts, feeder watchers, and owling. New were a goatsucker sp. and a Winter Wren, and they had a record number of Eastern Phoebes. Litchfield-Pawley's Island had a good day with 165 species and record counts of cormorants, woodcock, Fish Crow, Black-and-white Warbler, and Baltimore Oriole. Record lows of American Kestrel and Loggerhead Shrike continue the state-wide declining trend. Low Country (118) had a unique Reddish Egret and eight new record tallies including Bald Eagle, Semipalmated (1115) and Piping (29) plovers, and a remarkable 10 Spotted Sandpipers. McClellanville (170) had six new highs including Least Bittern, Wilson and Piping plovers, and American Robins, and 11 new lows including Brown Thrasher, Hairy Woodpecker, and Yellow-throated Warbler—and no Eastern Screech-Owls. In its 3rd year the Sea Island CBC (159) experienced better weather than last year. There were 10 new species including Snow Goose and Roseate Spoonbill. It was also only one of two counts to have Northern Bobwhite. An Ipswich race Savannah Sparrow was also notable, as was the large number of scaup and scoters. Sun City-Okatie (121) had first Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, American Bittern, and Common Ground-Dove. There were 10 new highs with Cooper's Hawk, Pine Siskin, and Ovenbird the most interesting; the count also had six new lows. Winyah Bay (170) experienced rain throughout the day. The increasing Mute Swan and Northern Parula were new. There were 13 new highs including 20 Northern Bobwhite but 18 new lows including three declining species: American Kestrel, Loggerhead Shrike, and Field Sparrow.
Fourteen counts were held in the Coastal Plains and Sand Hills. Heavy rains in the AM slacking off after 4 PM with a total of four inches for the day greatly reduced the Aiken (70) CBC results. Sharp-shinned Hawk, Pileated Woodpecker, and Vesper Sparrow had new lows while a Blue-winged Teal was new for the count. Carolina Sandhills N.W.R. (73) had a remarkable high count of 55 Purple Finches. Also notable were 12 Red-headed Woodpeckers and two Grasshopper Sparrows for a second year. Columbia (76) had six new lows which included Eurasian Collared-Dove, and four new highs which included Cooper's Hawk. The Congaree National Park (93) count had two lows: single Bald Eagle (in 5 years) and Fish Crow (in 6 years); but seven new highs including a remarkable 46 Barred Owls, as well as three new species including the scarce Lincoln's Sparrow. Four Holes Swamp (100) had wonderful weather and high species diversity but low number of individuals. White-crowned Sparrow was new there, plus nine new highs including American Robin and nine new lows including: Red-headed, Hairy, and Red-cockaded woodpeckers. Lower Saluda (82) had fog in the morning. No new species were found but eight high counts included the increasing scarce House Sparrow. The count had eight new lows including the declining American Kestrel. Pee Dee (78) had a new low for Winter Wren but new highs for Great Blue Heron, Bald Eagle, Red-shouldered Hawk, Blue-headed Vireo, and Black-and-white Warbler. With one party out because of a car accident, and a second party going home sick at mid-day resulting in half of the territories not being covered, left Pinewood (77) with a low species total. Wood Ducks had a record low, but there were four new highs including Common Ground-Dove. American Bittern and Baltimore Orioles were new. The Santee N.W.R. (126) CBC experienced light rain all day. Of interest was a count week Yellow Rail, a new species with Mottled Duck (expanding its range inland?) and record numbers of Northern Pintail, Wild Turkey, Horned Grebe, and King Rail. There were eight new lows which included: Eastern Screech-Owl, Black Vulture, American Kestrel, and Red-headed Woodpecker. The Savannah River Site (104) had a high count of Double Cormorant and the scarce Redhead plus eight new lows: Red-breasted Merganser, Anhinga, Killdeer, White-eyed Vireo, Marsh Wren, Gray Catbird, Palm Warbler, and Henslow's Sparrow.
Seven Piedmont/Mountain counts were done. Clemson (89) had light rain in the A.M. but nothing like the poor weather they had last year. Black Scoter was new and Eurasian Collard-Dove numbers reached a new high. Ross's Goose and Lincoln's Sparrow were good finds, and there were six new lows including Eastern Screech-Owl. In its third year, the Keowee (77) count experienced cold weather and heavy rain which greatly reduced its species and individual totals, so it had 13 lows, but also seven new highs including Red-headed Woodpecker and Pine Siskin; Gadwall and White-crowned Sparrow were new. Long Cane (70) had 12 lows including American Woodcock, Barred Owl, and Field Sparrow. New there was a well described female Brewer's Blackbird. North Greenville (87) had record high counts of Ruddy Duck, Bufflehead, and Horned Grebe. New were Great Egret and Green Heron. Notable was Common Raven for the 3rd year. Notable for the Rocky River (68) count were new highs for Bald Eagle and Brown-headed Cowbird. There were also 15 lows including declining species like Field Sparrow. The compiler stated that poor morning visibility, intermittent rain in the afternoon, and the reduced number of counters reduced the results for the Spartenburg (82) count. Bad Eagle, Rufous Hummingbird, and Merlin were noteworthy. Wild Turkey numbers were down. Bufflehead, Ruddy Duck, and Red-shouldered Hawk reached new highs. The York-Rock Hill count noted the lack of sparrows and waterfowl. Bald Eagle and Chipping Sparrow reached a new high, and a Brown-headed Cowbird was found during count week.