My daughter and I decided to drive seven hours up to Myrtle Beach to visit my parents who were renting a house there. We had a fun weekend. The last morning before we left, we had a couple hours to do some birding. So my father and I went over to the Huntington Beach State Park. We knew nothing of the park, we found a boardwalk that went out to the middle of a salt marsh. We thought that might be good for Seaside Sparrows. We had about an hour to see what we could find before we had to return. We made it out onto the boardwalk about 15 minutes after sunrise, and we were not disappointed. The Seaside Sparrows put on a little show for us. We saw at least 4 at one time, and I conservatively estimated that we saw eight all together. Three of them came to the vegetation right in front of us--as close as they could be and still have a place to land. It was really just too easy--just look for gray among the green, and there was a sparrow.
Clapper Rails were also therein abundance. We estimated about 15 were there calling, and we saw no less than 8. Good photos of Clappers are hard to come by, since they like to stay in the mud making for unflattering backgrounds, and they don't often come into view to let you see them anyway. But these Clappers frequently came out in the open as the moved between patches of vegetation. It was really a shameful display if you ask me. Very "unclapperlike," if that can be a word.
As we walked out on the board walk, two of the first birds we saw were immature Black-crowned Night Herons. I don't have many photos of these birds in this plumage, and these two were more than happy to pose--so much so that my guess is they've been fed by humans.
Yellow-crowned Night Heron
And as we were leaving, we found a couple Painted Buntings. We only saw females, but apparently there are always males at the feeders. We didn't have time to go see them though. We took too much time admiring the sparrows.