Like Amy Hoffman, my holiday birding trip was somewhat affected by tropical storms.  My wife and I traveled to Augusta, Georgia, to meet our son who is in graduate school at GHSU, his girl friend and their two dogs for a weekend of R & R in Charleston, South Carolina.  I planned our stay so that I could get in a few early morning hours of birding at local hotspots I had researched earlier.  Low tide on Sunday was 0726 so I left our hotel in Mt. Pleasant at 0700 and made my way to the Pitt Street Causeway and was not disappointed in what I found there.  The causeway is the remnant of a bridge that formerly connected to Sullivan's Island.  The bridge was abandoned in favor of a new one to the north and the causeway and a few of the bridge piers are now a park.  Hundreds of acres of marsh and tidal flats are easily viewed on either side of the former roadway.  Walkers, dog-walkers, cyclists, fishermen, birders and photographers frequent the area regularly.  I met a couple of birder/photogs and we compared what we had seen.  My interest heightened when one fellow said he had been trying to photograph black rails all summer without success.  "Yeah," he said, "they're in there, but good luck getting a look." 
I scanned the numerous shorebirds, ibises, herons, pelicans, gulls and terns and saw several clapper rails.  I watched a fisherman slog across the marsh to one of the natural drainage channels to seine some bait fish.  He flushed a little black bird that flew about ten feet and dropped back into the grass.  I knew what it was, but all I had seen was a weak-flying little black bird - no field marks.  I knew I had to come back and find this bird.
After lunch with my bunch, Tom and Mia wanted to find a place to exercise their dogs.  Of course I suggested Pitt Street (it was near high tide).
When we arrived the tide was more than halfway in.  The birding was totally different - many more ibises and herons and very few shorebirds.  When I reached the spot where I saw the little black bird earlier that morning there was just a narrow strip of open mud next to the marsh grass.  Within a few minutes I saw one black rail lurking just behind the stems of grass at the marsh edge. HOO-AH!!!  A minute later two more black rails came out in the open and pecked at the mud, showing me their red eyes, rusty nape and speckled backs. I wish I had gotten that guy's contact info so I could tell him "You'll never guess what I saw walking around in the open!"
I spent so much time at Pitt St. that I didn't get to Patriot's Point for land birding and Folly Beach County Park was closed due to severe erosion caused by hurricane Irene. 
We all had a great time, enjoyed the seafood and a wonderful visit to an area rich in hidtory. 
Here's a tip for birding in mixed company: When your son's girlfriend asks you if you saw any good birds and your wife nudges you with her elbow, just say yes and do not list your sightings. :)
Here is a partial list of the good stuff:
Brown Pelican 75
Great Blue Heron 10
Great Egret 30
Snowy Egret 6
Little Blue Heron 3
Cattle Egret 2
Tri-colored Heron 4
Yellow-crowned Night Heron 1
White Ibis 250
Black Vulture 4
Turkey Vulture 15
Osprey 1
Clapper Rail 7
Black-bellied Plover 4
Semipalmated Plover 30
Piping Plover 1
American Oystercatcher 3
Willet 4
Marbled Godwit 12
White-rumped Sandpiper 6
Stilt Sandpiper 7
Long-billed Dowitcher 5
Wilson's Snipe 20
Laughing Gull 80
Lesser Black-backed Gull 3
Caspian Tern 4
Royal Tern 7
Sandwich Tern 1
Common Ground Dove 8
Belted Kingfisher 1
Fish Crow 25
Seaside Sparrow 2
Boat-tailed Grackle 40
Great birding, but great to be home!
Don Hays
Donald R. Hays
Union, Franklin Co., Missouri
The Audubon Society of Missouri's Wild Bird Discussion Forum
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