Black Skimmer Pair

These Black Skimmers chose to do their skimming in the pond between me and the sun, rather than the prettier marsh on the other side of the dike where the light was beautiful.

Black Skimmer Pair
Black Skimmer Pair

The light here doesn’t do justice to their gorgeous orange beaks, but you can see how elegantly Skimmers fly and hunt. When in pairs the almost always fly with their wing beats synchronized.

Black Skimmer Pair
Black Skimmer Pair with fish jumping

Swooping around a small island the pair pulled tight together before turning for another long run.

Black Skimmer Pair
Black Skimmer Pair

Then they disappeared down an inlet, not to return while I was in the area.

Black Skimmer Pair
Black Skimmer Pair

Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, SC, 6/27/2018.

Butterflies Love It

I don’t know what this plant is but an assortment of butterflies and other insects were attracted to the puffy blooms.

Butterfly
Butterfly

The tufts from the flower heads made me think of thistle but the rest of the plant did not, with no sharp spines in sight.

Butterfly
Butterfly

This little yellow one was the smallest flying insect I saw. The bloom he picked had more of a purple tinge than the others, prettier or tastier perhaps.

Butterfly
Butterfly

The butterflies were all doing the same reaching into the tops of the flowers so they must have been getting something.

Pipevine Swallowtail
Pipevine Swallowtail (?)

This patch was two to three feet deep (0.5 – 1  meter) and ran along the edge of a pond. I could not see over the top from the mowed lawn where I was standing; I resisted getting closer due to the potential for alligators to be hidden in the greenery.

Attracting Butterflies
Attracting Butterflies

Little Blue Heron

Last summer the trees around this small pond had a dozen or more Little Blue Heron nests. This year not a single pair nested here, but a few come around to look, including this one who was having a tree top view.

Little Blue Heron Posing in Tree
Little Blue Heron Posing in Tree

Below he dropped down to some new debris in the water, part of some limbs that got tossed around during a severe storm last week. The pond has been cleared of invasive cattails and other reed vegetation and there is much speculation among regular human visitors here that it was too much change for the herons.

Little Blue Heron Posing on Stick
Little Blue Heron Posing on Stick

Where Did Everyone Go?

A group of nine Wood Ducks were hanging out on an Alligator Ramp, preening and enjoying the late afternoon sun late last week.

Wood Ducks on Ramp
Wood Ducks on Ramp

Nothing in particular seemed to have startled them, but by twos and threes they flew off.

Wood Ducks on Ramp
Wood Ducks Flying Away from Ramp

As the ducks shifted around some flashes of blue were evident. Some of the adult males have lost their full breeding colors and the juvenile males are starting to show some color.

Wood Ducks Flying
Wood Ducks Flying

One juvenile was left by herself, pacing up and down. She finally decided joining the pack was the right thing to do.

Wood Duck Left Alone
Wood Duck Left Alone

Green Heron

It was a treat to see this Green Heron out in the open doing his exercise routine. Usually a bit shy, I more often see them tucked into some underbrush.

Green Heron
Green Heron Wing Stretching

He was working his wings when I first spotted him then he moved on to his neck.

Green Heron
Green Heron stretching his neck

I thought we was going to plunge into the pond below,  perhaps for a snakc. But he returned upright, leaving fishing for another time.

Green Heron
Green Heron

Back Yard Dragonfly

In recent years the dragonflies in our backyard have been nondescript, plain black models, at least as much as I had noticed. This past week we have had a steady procession of dragonflies of different sizes and colors zipping around the yard.

Dragon Fly on Crepe Myrtle Seedpod
Dragonfly on Crepe Myrtle Seedpod

This one worked on some poses on a dried Crepe Myrtle seedpod.

Dragonfly on Crepe Myrtle Seedpod
Dragonfly on Crepe Myrtle Seedpod

Gang Way: Black Skimmer Coming Through

The tide was almost low and the shallow inlet water was attracting a number of shore birds looking for a meal, including a few Black Skimmers. My view wasn’t great and some tall grass partially obstructed the action, but watching these gorgeous birds skim for food is fascinating.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer headed toward Tricolored Heron

The flying gull and wading Tricolored Heron paid no head to the speeding Skimmer.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer, Gull and Tricolored Heron

The Skimmer made a practiced move of a quick look underneath and behind.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer and Tricolored Heron

The Tricolored Heron was not giving up his spot.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer and Tricolored Heron

Gracefully the Skimmer banked, skirted the heron and headed across the inlet.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer and Tricolored Heron, Second Skimmer coming in

Click any image for a closer view.