KEY NORTH AMERICAN MIGRATION SITES FOR
Red Knots & Semipalmated Sandpipers

Georgia Barrier Coast

Country: USA

Region: Georgia,

Nearest city/town: Brunswick

Site: Georgia Barrier Coast

Species/Sub-species: REKN-rufa

Total biogeographic population: 42,000

Count Method: Unpublished 2011 analysis by Jim Lyons, modeling re-sightings of banded birds, gave an estimate of 22,000 Red Knot staging at the Altamaha River Delta and neighboring barrier islands during the southbound migration.

Count: 220001

% biogeographic pop. at site: 52.38

Season (primarily): Spring, Late summer, and Fall

Site recognition: WHSRN IBA

Site recognition (other): Natural Heritage Preserve, Wilderness Area, Wildlife Refuge, National Park

Site description: This site includes the Altamaha River Delta (Sapelo, Wolf, Little Egg island Bar, Little St. Simons Islands, Pelican Spit), Tybee Island, Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge, Little Tybee Island, St. Simons Island--Gould's Inlet, Ossabaw Island, St. Catherines Island and sound,  St. Catherines Island Bar, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge, Jekyll Island, Little Cumberland Island and Cumberland Island National Seashore. Using the Ramsar Classification System for Wetland Type, the site's habitat characteristics are coastal, with sand shores (including sand bars, spits and sandy islets, and dune systems, mud banks and mud flats), intertidal mud, sand or salt flats, intertidal marshes (including salt marshes, salt meadows, saltings, raised salt marshes, and tidal brackish and freshwater marshes), coastal freshwater lagoons (including freshwater delta lagoons), and intertidal forested wetlands (including bottomland tidal freshwater swamp forests). Habitat on the island includes tidal creeks, maritime forest, salt marsh, hammock and beach. Land ownership is federal, state, local municipality, and private. Little Tybee Island Natural Heritage Preserve is owned and managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge and Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge, Wolf Island National Wildlife Refuge (Wolf Island, Egg Island and Little Egg Island) are part of the Savannah Coastal Refuges complex, which is managed by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. Ossabaw, Raccoon, egg islands, and Ogeechee River Bar, to the North are a Natural Heritage Preserve, owned and managed by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. St. Catherine’s Island is owned and managed by the St. Catherine’s Island Foundation. St. Catherine’s Island Bar is owned and protected by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources. Little Egg Island Bar is owned and managed by the State of Georgia. Sapelo Island is owned by the State of Georgia and operated as a Wildlife Management Area, while Little St. Simon’s Island is privately owned. Jekyll Island is owned by the State of Georgia, Little Cumberland Island is privately owned by the Little Cumberland Island Homeowners Association, and Cumberland Island is a National Seashoren owned and run by the National Parks.

Known threats: Exploitation of renewable resources is a threat to the site, specifically the threat of biological resources in terms of fishing and harvesting aquatic resources - intentional use (large scale) is moderate. The threat of land use change to the site in terms of natural system modification, in the form of dams and water management/use (large dams) is also moderate. Other threats such as pollution from industrial and military effluents (oil spills) and damaging recreational use from human intrusion and disturbance (recreational activities) is low. Lastly, the threat of physical alteration of the site from climate change in the form of severe weather in terms of habitat shifting and alteration is moderate.

Notes: The site barriers for Georgia Barrier Coast was arranged in a map with sub-maps with the delimitation of each specific important location including: Altamaha River Delta, Blackbeard Island NWR, Little Tybee Island, St. Simons Island--Gould's Inlet, Ossabaw Island, St. Catherines Island and sound, Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge. One small area of the Georgia Barrier Islands, the Altamaha River Delta, is currently considered a WHSRN Site of Regional Importance.
Specific counts include:
1) Georgia Barrier Coast: 18,0002 (total estimate), 42.86 (% of biogeographic population), spring and fall
2) Altamaha River Delta: 12,0003 (total estimate), 28.57 (% of biogeographic population), late summer and fall
3) Altamaha River Delta: 5,0004 (total estimate), 11.90 (% of biogeographic population), late summer and fall
4) Blackbeard Island NWR: 4,5645 (maximum day count), 10.87 (% of biogeographic population), winter and spring
5) Little Tybee Island: 2,0006 (maximum day count), 4.76 (% of biogeographic population), winter and spring
6) St. Simons Island—Gould's Inlet: 2,0007 (maximum day count), 4.76 (% of biogeographic population), spring and fall
7) Ossabaw Island: 1,8008 (maximum day count), 4.29 (% of biogeographic population), spring and fall
8) St. Catherines Island and Sound: 1,5009 (maximum day count), 3.57 (% of biogeographic population), winter and spring
9) Wassaw National Wildlife Refuge: 1,00010 (maximum day count), 2.38 (% of biogeographic population), winter and spring
10) Cumberland Island National Seashore and Pelican Spit: 82811 (maximum day count), 1.97 (% of biogeographic population), winter and spring
11) Jekyll Island—South Beach: 56012 (maximum day count), 1.33 (% of biogeographic population), spring and fall

Sources: 1J. Lyon (unpub. data). 2Lyons, J. E., W.L. Kendall, J.A. Royle, S.J. Converse, B.A. Andres and J.B. Buchanan. 2015. Population Size and Stopover Duration Estimation Using Mark–Resight Data and Bayesian Analysis of a Superpopulation Model. Biometric 72(1): 262–271. 3Schneider, T. and B. Winn. 2010. Red Knot: Species Account in Georgia. Georgia Wildlife. <www.georgiawildlife.com/sites/default/files/uploads/wildlife/nongame/pdf/accounts/birds/calidris_canutus.pdf>, p. 3. 4WHSRN designation form: http://www.whsrn.org/site-profile/altamaha-river-delta 5eBird (John Robinette 5/11/1998) 6eBird (Perry Rothemich 5/10/2015 7eBird (Ken Blankenship, Nathan Farnau, and Joel McNeal 5/2/2010) 8eBird (Gregory Cory 5/25/2013) 9eBird (James Flynn 4/29/2011) 10eBird (Charles R. Warnack 5/20/1980) 11eBird (Patrick Leary 1/22/2009) 12eBird (Nathan Farnau 12/5/2011)