Waties Island Nest Count

Thursday, October 8, 2020

Thursday, October 8th, 2 Nest Inventories, and the end of the 2020 season

 Hi All - since it was going to be our last day, the LOAs went out together to the island for the first and last time this year - social distancing was practiced.

The first action was to dig and inventory Nest 16R, which was located right at the access road.  This nest was 70 days old today, it was laid on July 30th, we had not seen any evidence of hatching or emergence, and the nest was caged for protection.  Val and Bill started the digging and we were hoping for the best, but after much digging and others taking turns, it was decided to call time on this effort, so the nest will be logged as lost.  This was a relocated nest, so we know there were 92 eggs moved, but lost.

Our next action was to dig up and inventory Nest #18. This nest EMERGED on Monday, October 5th, and Barb reported lots of tracks.  This nest had been caged and various actions were taken to deter our canine friends on the beach.  Thank goodness some good news!  The inventory results were 73 hatched eggs, 15 unhatched, 0 dead hatchlings - AND - we had 8 live hatchlings!  This nest was laid right after Hurricane Isasias, August 3rd.  This nest was also deeper than we thought, and it had been washed over by the August King Tide. This nest had a 73% emergence rate.  We watched the little ones head out to sea, they were very determined.  Thank goodness for some good news!

We also picked up all poles, markers and cages, our season comes to an end.  What started out as a challenging season, with the COVID pandemic, only LOAs walking, the hurricane, loss of all poles and DNR signs marking our nests, the coyotes patrolling our beach and digging up our nests, we ended with a happy ending with Nest #18.  In total we had 20 nests, 2 which were first recorded as false crawls, only 6 emerged, 14 were considered lost and 11 False Crawls.

I am happy I was able to write some good news for a change.  We hope to see everyone next year, but only time will tell.  

Just in case you missed the news of the helicopter (actually an ultralight) crash on Waties, you can read about it - https://www.wbtw.com/news/grand-strand/helicopter-down-on-waites-island-in-horry-county/

May the Turtle Force be with you all 

Pictures compliments of Bill, Sharon, and Leslie

Good morning Waties, our last day across the causeway

Start the digging process for Nest #16R - Val and Bill

Smile Bill, oh no, the hole is getting deeper, on your belly time

We stopped digging, the hole was large and deep - disappointment for the team.

We started on digging and inventory of our last laid nest #18.  Sharon started the process, but all assisted.  

Yippee! Hatchlings found

Barb and Val handled the eggs and sorting, Leslie wrote down the stats

We took the bucket of hatchlings and watched them crawl into the ocean, they were slow but determined.

We have hatchling tracks in the wet sand.  Have not seen this sight for most of this season

Saying our Goodbyes and wishing them lots of luck

We were determined to find nest #16R, so we tried again before leaving, by the time we left it was a wide and deep hole.

The beauty of Waties

The end of the 2020 Nesting Season

Monday, October 5, 2020

Some Excellent News!

Our season is winding down now with only two nests remaining on the island. Nest 16R at the entrance has been stubborn showing no evidence of anything going on, even though it is 67 days old.

But some excellent news from this morning's patrol: Nest 18, which was laid the day after Hurricane Isaias wiped out several of our nests, emerged overnight! This is Day 61 for this nest. We got to see lots of hatchling tracks heading toward the ocean and apparently with no interference from the coyotes who have been patrolling the beach this summer.

Nest 18 emerged!

Headed for the big swim

Any more left in there??

Coyote prints on top of hatchling tracks - the coyote was too late

It was a rewarding morning out there.

A few other sights were also seen - a HUGE jellyfish which was about three feet across - a moon jelly with a bite out of it - and "Big Bird"  All in all, an interesting patrol today.

Barb and Steve

Sunday, September 27, 2020

Sunday, September 27, 2020 - Nest 15R Lost, and than there are 2

 Today Nest 15R was 70 days old today, we have not seen any sign of hatching or emergence, so Sharon dug both at the DNR pole and in the ghost crab hole that was very close to the nest.  Again. nothing was found. There were 21 eggs buried in this nest on July 19. This nest is considered "Lost".  It was one of our relocated nests, there were 3 relocated nests this year.

The season is winding down, and we have 2 nests left.  Nest #16R, our last relocated nest, which is to the right of the beach access road.  It is 59 days old today.  Our last nest laid is Nest #18, laid right after Hurricane Isasias, it is 53 days old today.  It is located past Marker 3, very close to Marker 4.

We are really counting on these nests to do something - we really need some good news.

Wednesday, September 23, 2020

Wednesday 9/23/2020 - Nests 13 & 14

 Beautiful picturesque start to the morning over the marsh!

Leslie and I found Nests 13 & 14 on 7/15 which made them 70 days old today.  After Isaias we all used markers, poles and GPS to try and find them the best we could.  Most of the dunes were swept away.

So today we started with #13 and actually dug three different areas.  At the GPS pole, secondary pole and a ghost crab hole between the two.  

 #13 dug really deep, found nothing.

At #14 we went to blog checked out pictures of dunes again. Using GPS and pictures we started at
different ends and dug to the center -  GPS coordinates.  Again we found no signs of nest chamber.

Unfortunately both nests will be recorded as Lost Nests.

Even though we did not have a great outcome, our island  always finds a way to lift our spirits!
  As we were driving back
We are all hoping for a different out come with our remaining nests!!

Sharon & Leslie

Monday, September 21, 2020

Monday, September 21, 2020 for your viewing enjoyment

 Hi All - just some interesting pictures from this morning, Team Monday, Bill and Flossie Chapman.  Pictures are compliments from Bill.

Well, the ocean takes and ocean gives back.  Bill was able to notify us that our DNR sign for Nest #10 has been returned to us from the ocean.  It looks like it took a beating.

And Bill  has a picture of a nice buck on the beach.

Enjoy - Leslie

Hurricane Isaias took most of our DNR and poles, but the ocean has returned the DNR sign that marked Nest #10 

Saturday, September 19, 2020

Saturday, September 19th Latest Update

Well, again I held out hoping for good news to report, but that is not the case.  Its been two weeks since my last update.  This has been a crazy frustrating year. First, we had to deal with COVID-19, and walking without our volunteers and students, (you are missed), than the arrival of Hurricane Isasias, which destroyed the island’s dunes, the loss of most of our nest poles to locate the nests, a fish kill, and this week a King Tide, and nests over-washed.

Since my last update, we had six nests left, we now have five.  Unfortunately, Nest #11 was considered lost.  We were able to know where this nest was located since the secondary pole was still in the dunes after Hurricane Isasias.  We had placed a cage and decorated the cage to deter the digging by the coyotes, but we never saw any indication of hatching or emergence.  The Tuesday Team, Barb and Steve dug this nest up on Day 70.  This is Barb’s narrative about this nest. “Nest 11 was 70 days old and we removed the cage and excavated under the reed. Unfortunately, after much digging, no eggs were found. The sand was hard packed and had mineral layers evident. This nest when originally found was up on a small bluff; my guess is that the hurricane took out the bluff and likely the eggs too.” So, another nest lost.

The next action seen was on September 11th, on Nest #13.  The Friday Team, Paulette and Leslie, Paulette's narrative "found a large Ghost Crab hole and shells about 15 feet directly east of the sign for nest #13. The hole was big and maybe another creature had dug too. There were no prints or marks. Leslie dug as deep as she could laying on her stomach and reaching deep into the sand. We did not find the egg chamber.  In the loose sand we found 5 very white empty shells and 4 ugly unhatched eggs. A dead very premature hatchling was also found".  This nest location was by searching via the GPS coordinates, so where we marked it with a pole, was pretty close to where we found the Ghost Crab hole.  When we found these eggshells Nest #13 was 58 days old.

We have been learning a lot this year, since much we have had to deal with is not the norm.  We continue to hold on to hope for our other nests.

Nest #11 - after extensive digging no eggs were found, comparing the location of previous pictures, it was determined that the dune, along with our nest were swept away by the hurricane.

Nest #13 - another nest "discovered" by a Ghost Grab or some other animal - no tracks 

Pictures from Friday morning, after the King Tide, moved the wrack from the middle of the beach right up to the base of the dunes

Over-wash Nests #13, #14, #15

Other pictures for your viewing pleasure 
Interesting find 

The new Swash

Located above Marker 8

Steve walking up the beach