Goodby 2018

2018 has been a wonderful year of observing and photographing the wonders of nature, mostly birds in the low country of South Carolina. Thank you for following along.  I appreciate all of your comments and observations.

Snowy Egret Fishing
Snowy Egret Fishing, with Reflection

I end the year with a Snowy Egret fishing in a rice field canal, taken on one of the few sunny days we’ve had lately.

Snowy Egret Fishing
Snowy Egret Fishing

A White Ibis dropped in amazing close to the Egret considering all the unoccupied space nearby.

White Ibis Photobombing Snowy Egret Fishing
White Ibis Photobombing Snowy Egret Fishing

Nonplussed, they both moved on.

White Ibis Landing Snowy Egret Fishing
White Ibis Landing Snowy Egret Fishing

Best wishes for a peaceful and healthy 2019!

Click on any photo for larger view.

Floating Photobomb

The White Ibis was wading in the canal just off the dike at the rice field impoundment. I waited patiently for him to get far enough from the bank to get a clear shot.

White Ibis
White Ibis

Then an intruder! Several Ring-billed Gulls were on the opposite bank in the shallow water. I didn’t expect any to be interested in the deeper water, not thinking they would float, not wade.

White Ibis and Gull
White Ibis and Ring-billed Gull

The Gull continued paddling until he was behind the White Ibis and lifted his head, turning a photobombed shot into a nice bird combo image.

White Ibis and Gull
White Ibis and Ring-billed Gull

Forster’s Tern

I’ve watched several Forster’s Terns the last few times I’ve been to the rice field impoundment. They are incredibly acrobatic in flight, twisting and turning, then swooping down to the water to go after small fish.

Forster's Tern
Forster’s Tern

They are quite striking birds, even in non-breeding plumage. When they’ve make the turn and loop back for another run at the pond is the best opportunity to photograph them.

Forster's Tern
Forster’s Tern

And did I mention they are fast? This is the best I got this day for a dive.

Forster's Tern
Forster’s Tern

If they pick up a small fish with their feet they quickly pass it to their mouth and down the hatch it goes.

Forster's Tern
Forster’s Tern

Pied-billed Grebe

Small and chunky, the Pied-billed Grebe always looks like a baby-faced juvenile to me.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

Last week several of them were swimming in the rice field canal. Saltbrush seeds from shrubs that lined the bank were drifting over the water.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

The lowering late afternoon light and growth on the opposite bank changed the look of the water as I proceeded down the canal.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

Further along the Saltbrush seeds looked like sparkly feathers floating on the water. Saltbrush, Baccharis halimifolia, is a woody shrub or small tree in the Asteraceae family, and is also known as Groundsel.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

White Ibis in a Nesting Tree

If they follow last year’s pattern this tree will soon be occupied by nesting Great Blue Heron and Great Egret couples. Until then White Ibis have taken over the tree for sunning.

White Ibis resting in Tree
White Ibis resting in Tree

Doing the one-legged doze the Ibis stood right here for a couple of hours at least.

White Ibis resting in Tree
White Ibis resting in Tree

There is not a bit of material left from last year’s nests. Any Great Blues or Great Egrets that stake this out to start a family will be starting nest building from zero.

White Ibis resting in Tree
White Ibis resting in Tree

Taken as fall is coming to an end, 12/18/2018.

Common Gallinule

I hear Common Gallinules more often than see them. Per All About Birds they “make all sorts of chicken-like clucks, whinnies, cackles, squawks, and yelps.” Needless to say, many a birder has jumped when that racket starts, often accompanied by one or more Gallinules running across the water to safety.  I often refer to them as the early warning system for other ducks and wildlife I might have been hoping to see.

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule

These images were taken on different days, but in the same area. The stump in the image above is newly sticking out of the water as the rice field pond has been drained for repairs.

The red bill in the image below looks almost like fake plastic, but that is how they look. Bald Eagles will stalk Gallinules in this pond and I wonder how that beacon of red appears to them.

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule