Only 25 counts were conducted in South Carolina during the 2018-19 Christmas Bird Count period. The Pinewood count was canceled because the compiler moved out of state and an appropriate replacement could not be found in time. The Santee N.W.R. count was canceled because the federal government shutdown restricted access to many of the count's territories. Again Hilton Head had the highest number of participants (232) and the highest number of feeder watchers (88). Sun City-Okatie had 222 participants but no reported feeder watchers. The Low Country count had 74 counters while Sea Island had 58. The Four Hole Swamp count had 46 participants and Charleston had 43. Seven counts had 20-40 counters, and eight counts had 11-20. There were four counts with less than 10 participants. I hope these counts can get more participants in the future. Seventy-two percent of counts did some owling and 48% had feeder watchers. There was a significant winter finch invasion this winter with Red-breasted Nuthatches and Pine Siskins being found on 48% of the counts and Purple Finches on 52%. Roseate Spoonbills continue to increase along the coast with them appearing on 55% of coastal counts, while Eastern Screech-Owls seem in decline. McClellanville again had the highest coastal count with 171 species. The highest Coastal Plains-Sandhills count was the Savannah River Site with 103 closely followed by the Four-hole Swamp Count with 102. The top Piedmont-Mountain count was the Keowee count with 86 species.
Again this year there were nine coastal counts. The ACE Basin (158) CBC had two new species: Stilt Sandpiper and Black-headed Gull. There were 21 new lows including Loggerhead Shrike, Brown Thrasher, and Dark-eyed Junco. Among the five new highs is an encouraging two Barn Owls. Twelve Red-cockaded Woodpeckers testify to the success of their reintroduction in the area. This count also had one Red-breasted Nuthatch, four Purple Finches, and three Pine Siskins. Charleston (148) had two new highs, a remarkable 25 Roseate Spoonbills and an even more remarkable 35 Bald Eagles. A well described Chuck-will's Widow was new. There were 14 new lows including only one Piping Plover and one Long-billed Curlew. Charleston found five Red-breasted Nuthatches and two Purple Finches. A big miss was Eastern Screech-Owl. Hilton Head (137) had a remarkable record 16 Ruby-throated Hummingbirds. A count week Prairie Warbler was noteworthy. There were seven new lows including Rock Pigeon. There were two Red-breasted Nuthatches and one Pine Siskin. Misses included Roseate Spoonbills and Eastern Screech-Owls. The Litchfield-Pawleys Island Count (156) had six new highs including: Roseate Spoonbills (3), Lesser Back-backed Gulls (4), Ruby-throated Hummingbirds (5), a remarkable 73 Red-headed Woodpeckers, a likewise remarkable 93 Yellow-bellied Sapsuckers and four Yellow-throated Warblers. The 106 Rusty Blackbirds was a noteworthy tally. There were four Red-breasted Nuthatches, five Purple Finches, and one Pine Siskin. The Low Country count had 127 species. There were 12 new lows including Sharp-shinned Hawk and Wilson's Plover; but there were 30 new highs. Notable highs included an encouraging 38 Piping Plovers, three each Eastern Screech-Owls, Peregrine Falcons, and Loggerhead Shrikes and an amazing nine Red-breasted Nuthatches. There was one Purple Finch but no Pine Siskins. McClellanville was again the high count for South Carolina with 171 species, three more than its total last year. New were a well described Bay-breasted Warbler and a well described Yellow Warbler. There were new lows for 15 species including Eastern Screech-Owl. There were five new highs including a remarkable 3178 Ruddy Ducks. The Sea Island (155) count experienced fog in the morning and light rain all afternoon. New was a Reddish Egret, and unique was an Ipswich Race of Savannah Sparrow. There were 12 new lows including three statewide declining species (Sharp-shinned Hawk, Field Sparrow, and Dark-eyed Junco); however there were 23 new highs including Roseate Spoonbill, American Oystercatcher, and Painted Bunting. There were no Purple Finches or Pine Siskins but five Red-breasted Nuthatches was noteworthy. New for the Sun City-Okatie count were five Surf Scoters and a Henslow's Sparrow. Remarkable was a total of 177 Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, along with 22 Spotted Sandpipers and 11 Cattle Egrets. Field Sparrow was among the seven new lows. There were no Sharp-shinned Hawks nor any irruptive winter finches nor Red-breasted Nuthatches. Winyah Bay (163) had a remarkable Barn Swallow and two Stilt Sandpipers. Among the 11 new highs are an encouraging four Peregrine Falcons, 2704 Ruddy Ducks, 220 Black Skimmers and a remarkable 306 Europe Starlings. Among the 19 new lows were statewide declining species Sharp-shinned Hawk, Northern Bobwhite (1) and Loggerhead Shrike (1).
Only eight of the normal 10 counts were held in the Coastal Plains-Sand Hills region this season. Aiken had 77 species and a high count for White-eyed Vireos (3). There were five new lows. A Bald Eagle was notable. The Aiken count had a remarkable 10 Red-breasted Nuthatches, four Purple Finches, and four Pine Siskins. The Carolina Sandhill N.W.R. count (74) experienced light rain all day. New was a Black-and-white Warbler with excellent details. There were five new lows. And there were three new highs: four American Woodcocks, seven Blue-headed Vireos, and a remarkable 93 Purple Finches! Also notable were 20 Red-breasted Nuthatches and a Pine Siskin. Columbia (74) experienced rain and fog all day, probably resulting in 10 new lows. Osprey achieved a new high (2). The Congaree Swamp (94) count experienced high water levels on the Congaree and Wateree rivers, so the floodplain parties did not have access to the Congaree N.P. trails and the boat party could not launch the boat as the boat launch was several feet under water. As a result the count of floodplain species such as woodpeckers, Winter Wrens etc. were lower than usual. There were four new lows including Sharp-shinned Hawk and Bald Eagle, and five new highs. Noteworthy was a first year Golden Eagle, only the 2nd record for this count, and a Common Ground-Dove. There were three Red-breasted Nuthatches and two Pine Siskins. New for the Four Hole Swamp (102) count were a Common Goldeneye and a Baltimore Oriole. There were nine new highs including two Red-breasted Nuthatches. There were 17 new lows including eight Purple Finches and one Pine Siskin. There were only two Rusty Blackbirds seen. Noteworthy was a Bachman's Sparrow and very encouraging were 11 Loggerhead Shrikes. The Lower Saluda (88) count had a boat party. There were no Sharp-shinned Hawks, Eastern Screech-Owls or Great Black-backed Gulls. There were nine new lows including Loggerhead Shrike. There were 15 new highs including two Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Also there was a single Red-breasted Nuthatch, four Purple Finches and four Pine Siskins. Despite much of the prime birding areas being underwater, the Pee Dee Area (85) had a good count. A well photographed Common Merganser and a well photographed Common Loon were new for this count. There were eight new lows including the declining Sharp-shinned Hawk. There were five new highs including 12 Red-shouldered Hawks. Very encouraging were the 10 Vesper Sparrows seen on this count. There were no irruptive winter finches or Red-breasted Nuthatches found. Despite light rain in the morning and heavy rain in the afternoon, the Savannah River Site had a total of 103 species for the highest count for the Coastal Plains and Sand Hills region. The presences of 16 participants is also encouraging. Water levels were high and waterfowl numbers were low. There were 13 new lows. Double-crested Cormorant and Bald Eagle reached new highs. A well described Northern Rough-winged Swallow was unusual. Very encouraging was the count of 21 American Kestrels. There were three Red-breasted Nuthatches, four Purple Finches, and two Pine Siskins.
There were eight Piedmont and Mountain Counts. Normally the top count Clemson had a very poor day with only 64 species mainly due to a low number of participants as the Keowee count was held the same day. An indication of how poor the count was that 56 % of the total individuals had new lows. Seventeen Vesper Sparrows was noteworthy. There were no Red-breasted Nuthatches or Purple Finches or Pine Siskins. The 86 species seen on the Keowee count was the high for the Piedmont-Mountain regions this year. In its 7th year, the count had 15 new lows including the declining Field Sparrow. There were 17 new highs including three American Kestrels. Reversing this year’s trend of decrease, the Sharp-shinned Hawk was new for this count. Notable was one Peregrine Falcon. There were five Red-breasted Nuthatches, one Purple Finch, and one Pine Siskin. Lake Wateree (83) had 17 new lows and seven new highs. Among the highs were Bald Eagle, Chipping Sparrow, and Sharp-shinned Hawk while Wood Duck and American Kestrel were among the new lows. They had four Red-breasted Nuthatches, one Purple Finch, and eight Pine Siskins. The six participants of the Long Cane (63) count experienced the heaviest rain they had ever had on this count in the morning, and in the afternoon the ground flooded with a lot of standing water. This resulted in 12 new lows including declining species like Loggerhead Shrike, Brown Thrasher, and Field Sparrow. There was one new high Redhead (10) and one new species, Canvasback (2). The count recorded one Red-breasted Nuthatch. North Greenville (83) experienced foggy conditions in the morning. There were two new species: an adult male Canvasback and one Double-crested Cormorant. There were five new highs: 30 Redheads, 168 Buffleheads, six House Wrens, 23 White-crowned Sparrows, and 16 Vesper Sparrows. There were nine new lows. A Common Raven was unique to this count. Seventy-five Rusty Blackbirds was an encouraging sighting. There were no Eastern Screech-Owls or Sharp-shinned Hawks. There were four Red-breasted Nuthatches, two Purple Finches, and four Pine Siskins. The two participants of the Rocky River (64) count had 19 new lows including one each Brown-headed Nuthatch and Winter Wren. New highs including 560 Double-crested Cormorants and 111 Black Vultures. Hopefully this interesting count can attract additional participants next year. The Spartanburg Count (78) experienced rain all day, some of which was heavy and resulted in a major reduction in the number of counters. These effects resulted in 12 new lows including one Sharp-shinned Hawk and one Wild Turkey. There were 137 Black Vultures, and a returning adult male Painted Bunting. Notable was a count week Loggerhead Shrike, two Red-breasted Nuthatches, and a Purple Finch. The York-Rock Hill count (55) had a near total lack of waterfowl with only Mallards being observed. There were 10 new lows including a Bald Eagle. There were three new highs including seven Red-shouldered Hawks, 23 Red-tailed Hawks, and 33 Northern Flickers. There were four Purple Finches and count week Pine Siskin, Rock Pigeon, and Cedar Waxwing.