Belted Kingfisher

Normally very skittish, the Belted Kingfisher that hangs out on the old Pitt Street Bridge at Pickett Park has acclimated to people. This female was content to pose as she waited for the tide to come in and bring some fishing opportunities.

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The beams that stick out from the current pier are left from when there was a bridge crossing to Sullivan’s Island. Once the only non-boat transportation from Mount Pleasant to the beaches, the trolley that used the bridge ceased operation in 1927.  The bridge was closed in 1945, when a replacement just to the north opened.

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Pickett Park, Mount Pleasant, SC

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American White Pelicans, Again

Last week I posted photos of four White Pelicans performing synchronized swimming among the alligators along with a wish to see them fly. Yesterday I photographed a larger group flying over the same place and wished that they would land.

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Ten birds that weigh an average of twenty pounds each coming in for a landing would be a great shot. Of course they did land, but way at the back of the pond.

American White Pelicans in Flight

Their flight is as  skillful as their swimming: close together and smooth.

To get an idea of the size, Cornell Lab of Ornithology says the American White Pelican is “considerably larger than a Bald Eagle; smaller than a California Condor.”

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Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, South Carolina.

Too Many to Count

One Roseate Spoonbill perched in a tree above a pond full of Alligators. I stopped counting at 60 and I’m sure there were more hidden in the reeds and along the banks.

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From a distance the alligators looked like logs bobbing in the pond. Most of them didn’t move much but make no mistake they were alive.

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Don’t fall in!

Donnelly Wildlife Management Area, Colleton County, South Carolina, 11/25/2016.

American White Pelican and Friends

This group of four American White Pelicans swam round and round for over a half hour, occasionally using their bills to scoop food.

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They seemed oblivious to the alligators floating nearby, but did mostly stay in a tight group, perhaps for safety. The reptiles were not moving much and were clustered near shore. It was hard to see how deep the water might have been and how that might have affected both the birds’ and the alligators’ movements.

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I was hoping the Pelicans would display their flight skills, but they just continued round and round, eventually disappearing beyond the bend in the pond.

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Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, 11/25/2016.

Roseate Spoonbill

The Roseate Spoonbills are still in South Carolina despite all the  bird guides indicating they either shouldn’t be here at all or at least should have decamped to warmer Florida.

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Another awkward looking bird, the Roseate Spoonbills are remarkable agile while seeking food and in the air. I was amazed at the flying skills, although the banking and dropping maneuvers didn’t seem to have a purpose as he wasn’t being pursued and they don’t catch bugs in the air.

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Against an all blue sky the spoonbills are a pink stand out, if somewhat boring picture.

Roseate Spoonbill

Donnelley Wildlife Management Area, 11/25/2016.

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Roseate Spoonbill

Click on any photo for larger view.

Saker Falcon

Found from eastern Europe to central Asia these hunters face survival pressure due to development driven habitat loss and black market sales into falconry. The most sought after hunters also would make the best parents if they were left in the wild.

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This bird was bred in captivity and is part of the Center for Birds of Prey’s education program.

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On this November day there was enough breeze that she kept turning  into the wind to keep her feathers un-ruffled.

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Click on any image for larger view.

Center for Birds of Prey, Awanda, SC.

Bald Eagle Portraits

This Bald Eagle posed for portraits at the Center for Birds of Prey Photography Day in November.  He recovered from a back injury under the Center’s care but cannot fly to catch food so he will remain part of their education program.

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This was the first bird of the day and the song birds that had been flitting in and out of the pine trees at the edge of the demonstration field all disappeared from view when he was brought out.

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The size of the Eagle’s claws are even more amazing up close.

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Click on any photo to enlarge.

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Working Horses

Middleton Place Stableyards have a number of animals that would have been a working part of 18th and 19th century plantation life. Some of the horses there today work pulling carriages of tourists on tours of the grounds, a relatively easy assignment for animals that were bred to work in the fields.

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This late afternoon  their dinner was  served then they were led back to their pasture under the live oaks for the night.

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The horses and other animals, including sheep, hogs, goats, and a number of fowl, are also part of Middleton’s educational programs.

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