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Huyler House Walk Closed

We have a rapidly expanding least tern colony on the south end of Dewees Island.  Olivia and I posted nesting signs last week around the colony but they have expanded their nesting area north outside of the posted area.  This is great news because least terns nest on newly created beaches which means our beach is growing in this area of the island.  At present when one is walking down Huyler House walk it is too close to the nesting area and the adult birds dive bomb the walkers.   When the adults are busy trying to deter walkers it results in the birds leaving their eggs and chicks unattended and can result in the death of both by leaving vulnerable to predators or to overheat in the summer sun. 

To protect these SC State Threatened Seabirds the Huyler House walk be closed until the birds are done nesting.  If they are not disturbed then this could be as soon as 28 days.  If they continue to be disturbed then they with attempt to next up to 2 more times until they are successful which means they will not be finished until August.

At present, Huyler House Walk is a very long walk from the end of the boardwalk to the beach.  A more convenient place to access the beach is a short walk from Ancient Dunes.  Thank you for your support by using a different walk to access the beach to help protect these threatened birds!


Birds, Turtles & Programs

Shorebird Protection

The low country beaches are experiencing a much higher use over the last few weekends and this weekend is expected to be no different.  We typically have Audubon SC Shorebird Stewards on the beaches to help educate beach users on ways they can protect ground nesting shorebirds.  Due to Covid-19 there will be no Shorebird Stewards this week-end.  Due to social distancing it is a bit more of a challenge to educate users which is typically done by handing out brochures, showing photos and allowing folks to view birds through scopes and talking to people about why it is not a good idea to go into dunes or posted nesting areas or being too close to birds during periods of high tides.

The one thing that is very helpful if you are on the beach this weekend is data collection.   data.  Data is very important in obtaining resources for shorebird monitoring and law enforcement on the inlet beaches.  If folks are on the inlet beaches at any point during the weekend please take the following photos; boats and people on the beach, people and/or dogs above the high tide line or within posted nesting areas.  If you do find yourself talking with folks please wear a face mask.

If you would like to learn more about nesting shorebirds and how to talk to folks about these threatened species please plan on joining a virtual training session on Friday, May 22nd at 10:30 with Nolan, SC Audubon.  https://audubon.zoom.us/j/91275765772 or call 1 (312) 626-6799 and use meeting ID: 91275765772

Turtle Patrol

If you would like to sign up for turtle patrol while on Dewees Island please use this link.  If you need a copy of the DNR Volunteer Waiver to sign (need to sign before walking for this year) please let me know.  https://www.signupgenius.com/go/60b0b4caaa929a02-dewees4


Educational Programs will look a little different this summer due to social distancing but I think we have a great lineup of fun & creative activities over the next several months.  The Dewees Island Conservancy Facebook page will host programs & activities lead by our summer interns.  Emily has posted a few recent trail camera sightings from Dewees Island and check the Conservancy’s Facebook page on Friday for Olivia’s Shell Scavenger Hunt.

Dewees Island Welcomes the Dewees Conservancy Interns

The summer interns have started to arrive and come to Dewees Island with a wealth of experience and interests.  On behalf of the Dewees Conservancy, the Dewees Island POA and the Community, please help me welcome these ladies to the island.

Olivia Drabiak – Sea Turtle Intern

Olivia grew up in Rochester, NY, but has been residing in Cleveland, OH for the last two years. For her undergraduate degree, Olivia attended the College of Charleston, receiving a Bachelor’s of Science in Marine Biology and a minor is Spanish.  She spent a lot of time at Grice Marine Laboratory out on James Island, working on research pertaining to the salt marsh grass, Spartina alterniflora.  She is excited to be even more immersed in island life here on Dewees. During college, Olivia had enriching experiences such as studying abroad in Panama and Spain, where she studied marine ecology and Spanish, respectively.  Olivia loves all things animal but has a special interest in marine life. Upon graduation, Olivia began working at the Greater Cleveland Aquarium, where she spent much of her time interpreting the exhibits for guests, something she greatly enjoyed.  Before working at the Aquarium, Olivia spent her summers as a camp counselor and lifeguard at the YMCA’s Camp Cory on Keuka Lake, one of the Finger Lakes in New York.  Olivia loves being outdoors and exploring nature and is excited to have the opportunity to do both here on Dewees. In her free time, Olivia likes to spend time with her Boston Terrier, Marley, go hiking, read books, particularly those related to animal cognition or psychological thrillers, and play her ukulele. A fun fact is that Olivia recently obtained her SCUBA certification and is excited to enter the fun and breathtaking world of SCUBA diving.

Alison Schwartz – Sea Turtle Intern

Alison is a Jersey girl who recently graduated from the University of Vermont, where she studied Environmental Science with a concentration in Wildlife Ecology and Conservation and minored in Economics. She’s always loved wildlife since she was a child and hopes to make the future brighter for wildlife and humans alike! Alison spent two years as a tour guide at the Six Flags Safari, and consequently knows a variety of weird animal facts and bad jokes. Last year, Alison spent a semester studying Wildlife Management with The School for Field Studies in Tanzania, where she became passionate about wildlife outreach and education. Her experience led her to work for the Outreach Department of Vermont Fish and Wildlife, where she helped resolve human-bear conflicts and participated in a bear radio collaring project (as seen in the picture). Alison has also always loved sea turtles, and one of her fondest memories is swimming with a green sea turtle she encountered while snorkeling. When she’s not trying to get as close as possible to wildlife, Alison loves to read, play soccer, dance and climb trees. She’s really excited to drive down south and join the Dewees Island turtle team this summer!

Carson Howard – Sea Turtle Intern

Howard recently graduated from NC State with a Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology with a minor in Wildlife Science. She has always loved exploring nature and has had a passion for working with animals. Carson has spent the past six summers working as a camp counselor at a residential Girl Scout camp in North Carolina where she found her passion for sharing her love of the outdoors with others, especially children. She has had many great adventures over the past few years of college, one of them being studying abroad in Adelaide, Australia for the Spring of 2019. Carson got to check off some bucket list items while she was there such as see the Sydney Opera House, scuba dive on the Great Barrier Reef, and even solo travel in New Zealand for a week. Carson’s interests include kayaking, paddle boarding, surfing, swimming, and scuba diving when given the chance. Carson has also recently gotten back into some amateur photography and has also become an avid plant mom. Carson’s ultimate career goal is to work as an environmental educator with a focus on marine life.

Emily Rapach – Coyote Intern

Emily is originally from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, but has spent the last ten years in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. She loves the outdoor opportunities and wildlife that comes with living on the coast. Emily attends Berry College, majoring in biology and minoring in chemistry. In addition to her studies, Emily is a research assistant for her professor Dr. Chris Mowry, who runs the Atlanta Coyote Project. She also is a member of the school’s volleyball and equestrian teams. Last summer, Emily volunteered on Cape Romain with the sea turtle nesting program and helped with educational programs at the Sewee Center. After graduation, Emily plans on earning a master’s degree in wildlife biology or ecology. She has a passion for apex predators and would love to have a career studying animals such as bears, wolves, or big cats. In her free time, Emily enjoys boating, fishing, photography, and painting. She cannot wait to learn more about Dewees and the people and wildlife that live there.