September Gulf Fritillaries

I’ve seen a few Gulf Fritillaries around as recently as last week. In September they were everywhere you looked. These images were taken on the Morris Island end of Folly Beach where they were cavorting around in the flowers growing in the sand.

Gulf Fritillary
Gulf Fritillary

Although they fly about independently, if one butterfly finds something good another will soon follow.

Gulf Fritillaries
Gulf Fritillaries

They seemed OK at sharing if there were two vying for the same spot, and can hardly push each other around the way birds might do.

Gulf Fritillaries
Gulf Fritillaries

September 9, 2017, Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve.

Reptile Day at the Swamp

There aren’t many wading birds around my favorite swamp right now but I still like to walk around it at least once a week and I always see something. Sunday it was reptiles. We have had some cold weather but Sunday was in the low 70s (about 21 degrees C) and turtles, lizards and alligators were out soaking up the sun.

Turtles were crawling out of the water. They often just move onto the bank of the swamp making it easy to retreat. This one was more ambitious and got a completely dry spot.

Turtle
Turtle

The Brown Anole did a nice job selecting his wooden perch for camouflage and full sun. When I passed he disappeared down a crack in the middle of this dead stump.

Brown Anole
Brown Anole

The Alligators care little about being seen. Usually they can sink and swim many feet away in seconds if they feel the need to escape. The dead tree limbs this one was in between might have slowed him down if a real predator was after him. He was content with this spot; he hadn’t moved when I returned by him twenty minutes later.

Alligator
Alligator

Click on any photo for larger view.

Eastern Phoebe

Flycatchers around the marsh can be difficult to photograph as they like to perch on the side of a tree hanging over the water resulting in obstructed views. And they are fast!

This fellow was ahead of me as I wondered up the side of a pond,  flitting in and out of trees and occasionally swooping out over the water. He finally took a break on some pretty dried vegetation.

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe – click photo for larger view

This time he was rewarded with a large catch. It looks like a dragonfly even though he has it scrunched up a bit. The leafless trees gave me a clear shot but also resulted in a lot of background busyness. He promptly turned his back on me and gulped it down.

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe – click photo for larger view

Sunset and a Shrimp Boat

I was searching for a spot to take the rising “super” moon on Sunday. Unfortunately along with the full moon comes high tide eliminating the best spots to get most local landmarks in the shot. I finally decided to try the road that crosses Folly Creek which would have the bonus of a good spot to see the sun go down.

Sunset with Docked Shrimp Boat
Sunset with Docked Shrimp Boat – click on photo for larger view

A couple of commercial shrimp boats dock on this spit of land and make a nice addition to a sunset photo.

Sunset with Docked Shrimp Boat
Sunset with Docked Shrimp Boat – click on photo for larger view

My moon shots were a bust due to my own failings. I thought the horizon was clouding over and that the chances the  moon would be visible at the horizon were low. So I walked away from the car without my tripod. Using the bridge railing to steady my shots wasn’t enough at the required slow speeds. Maybe the weather will cooperate next month, or maybe the next, for another try.

 

Shore Birds Standing in the Surf

I got another opportunity to photograph Black Skimmers last week when a small group along with some Terns visited the same sand bar where I saw them two weeks ago. This Royal Tern had a few things to say.

Black Skimmers and Terns
Black Skimmers and Terns

When I first spotted them there were some Pelicans in the mix but they didn’t hang around. The tide was nearly out and this group of smaller birds seemed content to let the water lap around their legs. I didn’t see any of them feeding.

Black Skimmers and Terns
Black Skimmers and Terns

After the tide turned they shifted as a group a few times, going into the air, doing a few loops and settling just a couple dozen feet from where they started. It was only when a couple of bicyclists and a family with a baby carriage came along that they left.

Black Skimmers in Flight
Black Skimmers in Flight

Click on any photo for a larger view.

One Got Away

I did not see the Needlefish when I was taking these shots. The glare from the afternoon sun and the splash from the strand feeding Dolphin were what I saw in the viewfinder while I was hoping the Dolphin’s head would emerge through the water.

Fish Got Away
Fish Got Away

The fish’s jumping skills outran the Dolphin’s efforts to corner him near shore.

Fish Got Away
Fish Got Away

In a matter of seconds the the Dolphin turned back into the deeper water.

Dolphin Returning to Water
Dolphin Returning to Water

Late Season Spoonbills

We hadn’t seen any Roseate Spoonbills in weeks and suspected they had migrated south. What a delightful surprise to see a flock of about thirty when we visited the the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center on November 30th. This spot is slightly north of where we usually see the Spoonbills.

Roseate Spoonbills in Flight
Roseate Spoonbills in Flight

Our viewing spot wasn’t that great and this property limits the number of visitors so the birds have little or no acclimation to humans.

Roseate Spoonbill in Flight
Roseate Spoonbill in Flight

Still, it was Spoonbills. There were some Woodstorks in the same group but they flew off in the other direction.

Roseate Spoonbills in FlightRoseate Spoonbills in Flight

The Spoonbills did give a short show looping around while they decided on their destination.

Roseate Spoonbills in Flight
Roseate Spoonbills in Flight

Click on any photo for larger view.

Pond in Fall Colors

We recently toured the Tom Yawkey Wildlife Center, a 20,000 acre property on the coast of South Carolina that is managed by the state Department of Natural Resources. The Center is only accessible by crossing the Intracoastal Waterway by boat and only on pre-arranged tours.

Fall Pond
Fall Pond

The property is magnificent and includes some fresh water ponds that were glowing with reflected color and rippled by passing Alligators.

Fall Pond with Alligator
Fall Pond with Alligator