On May 24th-25th, 2014 the second Bio-Blitz at McAlhany Nature Preserve (MNP).

The Nature Preserve has a vast diversity of organisms and habitats on the 367 acre property. This is a very unique area with upland wetlands, non-alluvial swamp, bottomland hardwood, xeric pine forest, and mesic hardwood/pine forest. MNP has an upland portion and a lowland portion. The upland portion contains the first-order stream Cattle Creek, as well as a new wetland restoration project, and a more-established project restoring a long leaf pine/ wire grass savanna. The lowland area contains a 9-acre oxbow lake, numerous vernal pools and seasonally-flooded cypress swamp, and is bordered by 1.5 miles of Edisto River frontage. All of these characteristics provide for a great diversity within the habitats on MNP. The purpose of the Bio-Blitz is to involve specialists in all areas of biology to document the biodiversity and to provide a comprehensive flora and fauna species list. http://www.charlestonaudubon.org/mcalhany.html

McAlhany Nature Preserve – directions
The Bio-Blitz will begin at 9 am Saturday (May 24th) and continue through Sunday (May 25th) ending around 5pm. Participants are welcome to campout at MNP which has numerous tent sites available. They have a well-equipped cabin with a fully equipped kitchen, a full bath, loungearea, two bedrooms with bunk beds, and a screened in porch. If some would like to come Friday, Brian will be at MNP by 5pm Friday and will stay throughout the weekend. We will have a cook out Saturday for lunch serving hamburgers, veggie burgers, and hotdogs. Unfortunately, all other meals cannot be provided; therefore, individuals must bring food in accordance to their planned length of stay. We will have at least some coolers and a full-sized refrigerator available to store food but, of course, feel free to bring your own cooler if you’d like.

Saturday morning they plan to break out in groups scouting out areas in MNP. Because we want to create a list of flora and fauna on the property, we need participants to document their findings through pictures, notes, or possible GPS coordinates. If you have a hand-held GPS unit, please feel free to use the device to document sites of findings. Photographs taken by a digital camera can be uploaded into Brian’s computer to aid in the documentation. Everyone needs to return to the cabin around 12pm for the cookout. Once everyone is finished with lunch, they plan to send groups out again to survey the property finishing around 5 pm. When finished with surveying the property, please turn over the information to one of the MNP project leaders so we can compile all the data. We would like everyone to have a lot of fun, enjoy the wilderness, and help out with our project. Hopefully, this will be a great time for everyone getting out into the habitat and provide us with valuable information about the flora and fauna of MNP.
Please RSVP to Brian Reid (bkrcoach@yahoo.com) with the number of people who will be attending, so we can bring enough food, but also to give us a feel for the type of biodiversity you feel comfortable inventorying (e.g. birds, terrestrial plants, aquatic plants, aquatic insects, butterflies, moths, reptiles, amphibians, etc)

Bio-Blitz Itinerary

May 23rd Friday:

Brian Reid will be at MNP by 5 pm for
anyone eager to get a head start

A night walk will take place later in the evening

May 24th Saturday:

9am – Bio-Blitz begins

12 pm –cookout at the cabin

1:30 pm – Bio-Blitz continues

4:30-5pm – wrap up of the day

5 pm – thank you for all your hard work;
now it’s time to put up your tent and relax

6:30 pm- join us around the fire for story

9pm – night walk down river trail and
along the Edisto River looking for
reptiles and amphibians lead by
Brian Reid

May 25th  Sunday:

No real schedule is set for this day, but a
general guide is given for those that stay
to help. We can discuss in the morning
how we want to attack the day.

9 am – blitz time
12 pm – grab some lunch
1 pm – afternoon blitz
5 pm – the end
**thank you for all of your help and expertise and please feel free to come and go as needed.

Volunteer Opportunity to survey for Black Rails in County Parks!

Researchers are looking for a team of two volunteers who would be willing to survey the James Island and Caw Caw County Parks together for the elusive Black Rail. The surveys will be conducted during the evening  (2 ½ hours prior to sunset until ½ hour after sunset), and each site will be surveyed once per month during May, June, and July. A survey route consists of a set of locations that can be surveyed during one evening. We will plan one route for each park, so there will be a total of 6 evenings of work. Ideally, it would be great if the same two volunteers could conduct all of the surveys together.

Black rails are very rare, so we do not expect to detect very many during the surveys. We will be playing recordings of black rail vocalizations and listening for a respond. Training will be provided, but experience identifying birds by their calls would be helpful. Surveyors will need to be able to walk to sites, stand while playing a recording and listening for a response, and record detailed observations on data sheets. A MP3 player with the recordings and speakers will be provided.

If you can participate in the project, Christy Hand will work with you to sign you up through the SCDNR volunteer program. Christy is a Wading Bird Biologist with SCDNR. Her number is 843 844-2473. Email is handc@dnr.gov2014

Two training workshops are planned for later this month. Nikki Roach, a Clemson graduate student working on the project, will be running the workshops.

Details are below……

April 16th (South of Charleston):

Where: Nemours Wildlife Foundation (161 Nemours Plantation Road, Yemassee, SC, 29945)

When: 2-5 PM

April 17th (North of Charleston):

Where: Santee Coastal Reserve (220 Santee Gun Club Road

McClellanville, SC 29458)

When: 1-4 PM


-Review protocols and datasheets

-Spend time going through practice surveys

- Learn how to plan survey routes

- General background information about BLRA and why these surveys matter!

- Q/A with Nikki and Meghan (Technician)

Please click on these two documents for even more information!

2014 Black Rail Survey Overview

USFWS Black Rail Fact Sheet

Black Rail


SCNPS Bog Gardening Workshop

The Lowcountry Chapter of the SC Native Plant Society will be hosting a Bog Gardening Workshop on Saturday, April 12, from 10 am – noon.  (Location will be at the Clemson Coastal Research & Education Center “Ed Shed,” 2865 Savannah Hwy).  Tony Bertauski, horticultural instructor at Trident Tech and columnist for the Post & Courier, will lead the workshop.  Come learn about the plants and techniques for gardening in wet soils, and get your hands dirty making your own container bog garden to take home.  Registration is limited to 25 people and there is a $25 fee.  To sign up, contact Katie Ellis at Kathryn.k.ellis@gmail.com or 906-9916).  First come, first served.

Bog dragonfly

Volunteer to Upkeep Rain Gardens

Summary: Rain Garden demonstration sites around the Tri-county area have a visitation estimated at over 60,000 individuals per year.

This volunteer opportunity involves help in keeping these ~ 20 demonstration sites (permanent exhibits) looking beautiful. These sites are used to illustrate best management practices and environmentally friendly gardening, helping citizens become better stewards of their community. They play an important role in educating the public in general about rain gardens and rain barrels and illustrating xxxx .  Depending on the site, a flexible routine maintenance schedule, might include using a leaf blower to clean out pervious pavement or emptying the first flush diverter on a cistern. It would also include some more routine tasks like weeding and hedging when needed. According to Kim, most of the sites are pretty self-sustainable but could use someone committed to keeping an eye on it (maybe “adopt” a site), in the ball park of a bi-monthly visits at two hours a time (~15 hours annually per site). This would be especially important if an “educational tour” was scheduled for the site. She also indicated that creative suggestions on signage and placard design would be welcome from Master Naturalists for many of the sites (Clemson hired a designer for the signs and our suggestions would be welcome!).

Contact person: Kim Counts, Clemson Carolina Clear Water Resources Agent, Clemson Extension kcounts@clemson.edu


Spring 2014 Bird Volunteer Opportunites

Least Tern Rooftop Nesting Monitoring

Summary: Least Terns are very small migratory seabirds that nest in SC in the Spring. With the loss and degradation of natural colony sites, the Least Tern has adapted to nesting on gravel rooftops. In 2013, 60 percent of the least tern nesting sites in SC were on roofs.

This volunteer opportunity involves helping to monitor the rooftop nesting colonies. All monitoring is done from ground level, and there is some training involved and a form to fill out which directs for specific observations. Least tern roof colonies are in Charleston, Berkeley, Georgetown, and Horry Counties. It is possible to “adopt” a roof to monitor 2-3 times a week, requiring about 30-60 min. of time; and there is opportunity for a roof to be “adopted” by more than one person to share the monitoring time required. Birds start arriving from South and Central America in late March, early April and monitoring extends into mid-June.

Seabird / Shorebird Colony Nest Counting

Summary: SCDNR biologists survey seabird nests every summer to determine nesting numbers and to monitor overall trends of colonial seabird populations in the state, especially at Deveaux Bank, Bird Key, and Crab Bank Seabird Sanctuaries in Charleston County.

This volunteer opportunity involves helping SCDNR to count nests of colonial seabirds at specific sites.  Time requirement is about 4 hours in the morning for several days a week for a total of 2-3 weeks in mid-May to early June. Timing will be variable. This is a team activity. There will be a training session for volunteers to learn to identify nests and eggs, and understand the process of moving through the colony with the least amount of disturbance as possible. According to Mary-Catherine Martin, “this is a very noisy, smelly job requiring the ability to focus, amid hundreds of birds flying overhead, counting nests as you methodically move in a line with others in your group” (but some lucky people get the opportunity to help do it!). “The Coastal Birds Project is hoping to foster a network of committed volunteers, who have an interest in helping year after year.”

Contact person: Mary-Catherine Martin, SCDNR Wildlife Biologist, MartinMC@dnr.sc.gov

Least Tern

A message from Marian Brailsford, CMNA Vice President and Chair of Communications Committee

Dear CMNA members and supporters,

Want to have “up-to-the-minute” information about happenings in the Lowcountry’s world of nature and throughout the State?  www.coastalmasternaturalists.org is full of fascinating articles, upcoming nature excursions, educational workshops, and volunteer opportunities.  To make it easier for you to keep updated, we are providing a new  service — you will receive an automatic email notification when new items are added to the website.

This “subscription service” is still being refined, so please bear with us while we perfect it.  For example, this service will soon provide an “unsubscribe” feature allowing you the option to stop these email notices.  However, for the next few months,  if you do not wish to continue receiving these notices I would ask that you notify me at mdbrailsford@bellsouth.net and we will remove you from this service, but not from the e-newsletter distribution list.

Our CMNA Communications Committee is anxious to facilitate your continuing growth as a Master Naturalist.  Please let us know if you have suggestions, and please notify us of potential learning and volunteer opportunities to share with other Master Naturalists.

Thank you,

Marian Brailsford

CMNA Vice President and Chair of Communications Committee

Carolina Yards Plant Database

Clemson Extension has launched the Carolina Yards Plant Database which contains nearly 300 plants that are suited to growing in South Carolina.  Plants were selected with the principles of environmental landscape design in mind. Remember, good landscape design hinges on choosing the right plant for the right place.  Visit this link to learn more or start your search!