Least Sandpiper

A mud flat is created when the SC Department of Natural Resources lets the water out of a section of the old rice fields at Bear Island Wildlife Management Area. The little shore “peeps” of all varieties gather for feeding.

Least Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper

The Least Sandpiper is one of the smallest of the little “peeps” that wade through the mud, foraging for food.

Least Sandpiper
Least Sandpiper with Reflection

It’s fascinating to see the flocks take off in one motion and fly as a group to a new location.

Flock of Shore Birds
Flock of Shore Birds

Crested Flycatcher

Some afternoons in the spring our backyard is a highway for small birds traveling along the edge of the woods. They generally don’t stop long, but this bird was probably a juvenile and appeared to be waiting on some parental guidance.

Crested Flycatcher
Crested Flycatcher

The Merlin Bird ID app identified this as either an Ash-throated Flycatcher or Great Crested Flycatcher from the two photos below. The Great Crested is most likely to be found in South Carolina.

Crested Flycatcher
Crested Flycatcher

Also,  the “lemon-yellow belly” description of the Great Crested was what first made me notice him as it flashed in the sun.

Crested Flycatcher
Crested Flycatcher

Sibling Spat

I heard them way before I got to the swamp: they were squawking the way they do when a parent has brought food. Instead of feeding, the scene when I got there was more like a human telling his sibling what’s what.

Great Blue Heron Chicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks

You could practically hear “You’re not the boss of me!”

Great Blue Heron Chicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks

I’m not sure if this was backing down or just requisitioning.

Great Blue Heron Chicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks

And as is often the case with humans, it was all over a couple minutes later, apparently with no harm done.

Great Blue Heron Chicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks

A lone adult, perhaps from this nest, stood with a tired look at the edge of the pond. The adults all around the rookery are starting to look like they have had enough.

Great Blue Heron Adult
Great Blue Heron Adult

Eurasian Eagle Owl Close Up

With a six and one half foot (two meter) wing span the Eurasian Eagle Owl is the largest owl in the world. Orange eyes and luxurious feathers make them quite distinctive, not to mention those big ear tufts.

Eurasian Eagle Owl
Eurasian Eagle Owl

Found throughout Europe and Asia, they can weigh up to six pounds (2.75 KG).

Eurasian Eagle Owl
Eurasian Eagle Owl

The stare was quite intense!

Eurasian Eagle Owl
Eurasian Eagle Owl

Eurasian Eagle-owl, Bubo bubo

The Center for Birds of Prey offers photographers an opportunity to take close-up photographs of owls and other birds of prey a few times a year.

The Center for Birds of Prey, Photography Day, April 22, 2018,  Awanda, SC.

Grackle with a Double Snack

With his mouth full of bugs this Grackle paused a couple minutes at the edge of the pond before flying off to his nest.

Grackle with Bugs
Grackle with Bugs

I didn’t see him make the catch and have no idea how he got these two bugs in his beak at once. Maybe the effort was why he rested before heading to his nest.

Grackle with Bugs
Grackle with Bugs

He eventually flew out to this tree, aka “the skinny tree,” where his nest seemed to be in the broken Wood Duck box seen on the far side of the trunk.

Grackle Above Alligator
Grackle Above Alligator

An Alligator was patrolling the water around the tree. The Grackle dive-bombed the Alligator several times with no effect.

There was at least one turtle in the water and there is one Great Blue Heron and three Great Egret nests with chicks in the branches above, either of which would be more enticing to the gator.

Black Swan Family

The cygnets were learning how to feed, sticking their heads in the water imitating their parents who were pulling vegetation up from the pond floor. The were each in constant motion, turning and dunking, making a family portrait a real challenge.

Black Swan and Cygnets
Black Swan and Cygnets

The three cygnets mostly stayed together.

Black Swan and Cygnets
Black Swan and Cygnets

This fellow started off on his own but quickly turned back to the group.

Black Swan and Cygnets
Black Swan and Cygnets

Owned and operated by the City of Sumter, SC, Swan Lake Iris Gardens is home to all eight known species of swan.

 Photo Gallery

Taking the Leap

Undecided, this Wood Duck drake paced on top of the nesting box. Were there hatchlings inside about to pop out? Was he waiting for a mate? Questions I never got the answers to.

Wood Duck Diving
Wood Duck Diving

Eventually he took a plunge off the side.

Wood Duck Diving
Wood Duck Diving

Splash down!

Wood Duck Splash Down
Wood Duck Splash Down

A short paddle took him back to the box. He spent some time contemplating his next move under the protection of some overhanging branches.

Wood Duck Splash Down
Wood Duck Splash Down

Prothonotary Warbler 2

The Prothonotary Warblers won’t be in our area long so I spent some time around the edges of the swamp looking for them earlier this week. They are fast in flight, like tree tops, and don’t stay in one place for long, making them a challenge to track and to photograph.

Prothonotary Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler

This one must have liked the sun or the view because he stayed in this lichen covered branch for several minutes.

Prothonotary Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler

In the inner branches is usually where that flash of yellow streaks by.

Prothonotary Warbler
Prothonotary Warbler