Sharing Space

The turtles are the most likely to be seen sharing space with other creatures around the swamp and ponds. They crave the sun just like the alligators on this reptile ramp and don’t show any fear in the presence of an alligator that could easily eat them.

Alligator and Turtles
Alligator and Turtles

Wading birds like this Great Egret like a sunny spot, too, and easily find a spot in between the turtles on a nearby ramp.

Great Egret and Turtles
Great Egret and Turtles

I don’t know what this “foot in the air” display from the turtle just to the right of the egret is all about, but a little further along in another small pond I saw it again, with both hind feet straight out.

Two Turtles Sharing a Log
Two Turtles Sharing a Log

Symmetry in the Pond

We see much of the Great Blue Heron nesting and flying action that we witness from the path that runs through the trees on this end of the pond. TheĀ  pond is a man-made, roughly a rectangle, with a paved path that runs along three sides.

End of the Pond, Reflected
End of the Pond, Reflected

The portrait oriented photo above gives a better sense of the height of the trees, but doesn’t show the width of the pond the way the landscape oriented image does, below (click on image for larger view).

End of the Pond, Reflected
End of the Pond, Reflected, Great Blue Heron nesting tree at far left.

December 22, 2017

Fences Between Neighbors

Many of the borders of family plots in older sections of Charleston’s Magnolia Cemetery are marked by decorative metal fences. The styles are as varied as the families must have been and all are in some state of decay.

This fence with a Lyre and Star motif is particularly intricate. Sadly a large chunk of it is gone.

Lyre and Star Fence
Lyre and Star Fence

The cemetery is dotted with centuries old Live Oaks and giant Magnolias that take a toll on the fences and stone work below with every big storm that passes over Charleston.

Lyre and Star Fence Gate
Lyre and Star Fence Gate

From the cemetery’s website:

Magnolia Cemetery first opened in 1850. It is on the land of a former rice plantation. The property was designed during a new rural cemetery movement that crossed from Europe to America in the mid-19th century. With lovingly landscaped paths and ponds, trees and green space, Charlestonians would come to Magnolia to picnic and play, as well as visit lost loved ones.

Aside from status, the fences may have been a way to protect a wealthy family’s plot from the picnickers. The cemetery occupies over 130 acres at the edge of a marsh on the Cooper river and it remains a beautiful spot to visit.

Lyre and Star Fence
Lyre and Star Fence

Click on any photo for larger view.

Wood Duck Pair

There is no mistaking the shape of a male Wood Duck and it’s always a treat to see them close enough to see their colors.

Wood Duck Pair in Duck Weed
Wood Duck Pair in Duck Weed

This pair was hanging around with a small group of Blue Winged Teals, paddling around the edge of a small pond.

Male Wood Duck
Male Wood Duck

There is a walking trail that loops along both sides of this pond and the ducks gradually work their way from side to side, not in any great hurry, but changing direction as people pass by.

Wood Duck Pair with Blue-winged Teals
Wood Duck Pair with Blue-winged Teals

Click on any photo for larger view.

Great Blue Heron in the Skinny Tree

I call it the “skinny tree” because there isn’t much to it. It is not completely dead, but not far from it. I’ve taken hundreds of photographs of various birds in this tree, which sits in water about 60 feet / 20 meters (as measured using Google Maps) from the edge of the pond.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

As mating and nesting season has gotten under way last year’s nest, which was used by a Great Blue Heron family and the one below it used by Great Egrets, are completely gone.

This week I’ve seen a couple of Great Blues come to this spot and steal a few loose twigs left behind after late summer storms took the rest.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron

If there is going to be a nest here this season there is a lot of work to be done. This Heron may be holding the spot while her mate is off finding foundation branches or she may be surveying the pond for a better potential home. We are about to have some cooler weather with the next ten nights going below freezing. This might put a damper on the whole nesting business.

View a GBH in a complete nest on this spot from February, 2017

View a GBH Chick in the nest on this spot from June, 2017

Grebe: Taking Duckweed for a Spin

I spotted thisĀ Pied-billed Grebe as swam out of a patch of duckweed.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

Usually Grebes will dive just as you are focusing on them and I fully expected this one to, just to clean off if not to get away from the edge of the pond.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe giving a shake

Evidently the duckweed wasn’t bothering him because after a shake he continued paddling on his way.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

Pine Warbler

This is another bird that flew in right over my head while I was watching the Great Blue Herons work on their nests. I’m pretty sure it is a Pine Warbler, but there are a number of similar yellow warblers making my ID iffy.

Pine WarblerPine Warbler

He landed on a strand of hanging Spanish Moss and gave it a couple of pokes.

Pine Warbler
Pine Warbler

Not finding anything, he flitted a little further from me,

Pine Warbler
Pine Warbler

My view wasn’t as good but he treated me to an acrobatic display.

Pine Warbler
Pine Warbler

Eastern Phoebes Around the Ponds

I’ve seen Eastern Phoebes around several of the marsh and pond areas in the last few weeks. With the leaves off many of the trees they are a little easier to spot.

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe

I also watched some acrobatic flights and hovering over the water that I wasn’t prepared for. Now that I’ve seen it I might be able to photograph it given another opportunity.

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe

They don’t stay in one place long but this one found the perfect stick close to the water with a nice reflection from the nearby trees.

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe