All posts by Ellen Jennings

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird In a Sunflower

I first noticed this Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird when she flew through my shot of these ornamental sunflowers. I was surprised that there was nectar in a flower head like this to attract a hummingbird.

Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird
Female Ruby-throated Hummingbird

This is a view of the back side of a nearby sunflower in the same garden. This variety has multiple seed heads on the same stem.

Sunflower
Sunflower

Cypress Gardens: First Visit

Cypress Gardens, a 170 acre preserve in Monks Corner, was on our list of places to visit when we first visited South Carolina in January 2016. Unfortunately, it had been completely destroyed in October 2015 by the “thousand year flood.” Promises to reopen over the next three years were changed as setbacks to repairs came with Hurricane Matthew in 2016, Tropical Storm Irma in 2017 and the January snowstorm of 2018.

Water depth marker
Water depth marker – during the Thousand Year Flood of 2016 water rose to between the top two white marks on the pole

At long last Berkeley County has overcome the weather and bureaucratic delays, reopening the park in April. After giving them a few weeks to work out the kinks we’ve now had our first excursion there and fittingly, it started raining as we pulled into the parking lot.

Not deterred we started with a guided boat ride through the black water swamp to get a feel for the park layout. It was neat being down close to the water surface and another time I’d take the self-guided (paddle yourself in a small flat bottom boat) so I could stop where I wanted.

Water Lilies in Black Water Swamp
Water Lilies in Black Water Swamp

Plants are being allowed to come back on their own but the management actively is removing the thriving duck weed and creating compost from it.

Water Lily in Black Water Swamp
Water Lily in Black Water Swamp

We saw a few alligators including some under a year old, snakes and song birds. Hopefully wading birds and other wildlife will returnĀ  as the landscape heals.

Reflections in Black Water Swamp
Reflections in Black Water Swamp

A few small islands throughout the swamp had cultivated flowers. I don’t know if these somehow survived all the weather events or have been recently planted.

Gladiola
Gladiola

Walking trails around the swamp and into the woods, a butterfly house, a combo aquarium/reptile center, and numerous gardens round out the attractions.

Bride

I couldn’t resist taking some photos when I passed by a bridal photo shoot. This wide lawn sits between the bamboo garden where the Barred Owls hand out and the swamp at my favorite bird gathering spot.

Bride Under an Oak Tree
Bride Under Live Oak Tree

Charleston is known as a wedding destination and it’s not unusual to see all phases of wedding festivities about anywhere you go.

Bride Under an Oak Tree
Bride Under Live Oak Tree

Surprise in the Hole

I’ve walked past this tree that stands less than ten feet (three meters) from a well walked path at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens a hundred times, maybe more. Every time I notice this opening I think something should live there. An owl nest would have been fun to see.

What's in a Hole
What’s in a Hole

Imagine my surprise when I looked up yesterday and saw this looking back at me!

Mother Raccoon and Kit
Mother Raccoon and Kit

I saw the ears of a second kit, but only one looked out while mama kept a close eye out.

Mother Raccoon and Kit
Mother Raccoon and Kit

A smaller side trail allowed me to get further from the Raccoon’s den but still see the opening through some branches. One kit looked out on his own before ducking down.

Raccoon Kit
Raccoon Kit

I continued on my walk and when I passed back by this spot about an hour later there was no movement. For every bit of nature I chance upon like this I wonder how many I just miss.

White-eyed Vireo

White-eyed Vireos are small {0.3-0.5 oz (10-14 g)} song birds that are usually difficult to spot due to their preferred habitat of thickets and scrubby trees. I could hear this one singing just in front of me on a narrow path and was surprised to see him on an open branch.

White-eyed Vireo
White-eyed Vireo

And when he flew I could still see him!

White-eyed Vireo
White-eyed Vireo

Although White-eyed Vireo was my first thought, I used the Merlin Bird ID app to verify the ID.

Great Egret Chick Feeding Time

The Great Egret chicks waste no time when the adult returns to the nest with food. It’s every chick for himself, and the first order of business is to latch onto the adult’s beak or neck.

Great Egret Chicks Getting Fed
Great Egret Chicks Getting Fed

The egrets’ necks are very flexible and the chicks know how to encourage the regurgitation of their dinner.

Great Egret Chicks Getting Fed
Great Egret Chicks Getting Fed

The adult always takes a pause and looks skyward before producing the meal.

Great Egret Chicks Getting Fed
Great Egret Chicks Getting Fed

Then he bends one more time and one chick opens wide while the other watches.

It was hard to tell if they both got something this trip. The entire maneuver got repeated but they were all moving around so much I lost track of which chick was which.

Great Egret Chicks Getting Fed
Great Egret Chicks Getting Fed

When the chicks were smaller the adult would supervise and maybe have to do some enticing with the food to get them to eat. Now that they are nearly full-grown the adult quickly moves out of reach of those sharp beaks.

Great Egret Chicks Getting Fed
Great Egret Chicks Getting Fed

Taken 5/29/2019

Dragonfly on Underside of Branch

This rather large dragonfly was looking for a spot to land and finally settled on this pretty lichen covered branch. In the first image he was hanging on to a bit of Spanish Moss.

Dragonfly Under Lichen Covered Branch
Dragonfly Under Lichen Covered Branch

He then got a better grip on the branch and stayed put. I did not see any insects for him to prey on. It was almost 100 F (37 C) and I wondered if he was looking for some shade. I don’t know what is going on with his tail–it looks like some plant debris was hitching a ride.

Dragonfly Under Lichen Covered Branch
Dragonfly Under Lichen Covered Branch

05/29/2019