Category Archives: Animals

Young Dolphin and Bonaparte’s Gull

Or Follow The Food

Dolphin can be hard to spot from shore until they break the surface but this Bonaparte’s Gull served as a great marker for me. You can just make out the young Dolphin below and to the left of the bird.

Bonaparte's Gull Fishing Around Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Hovering Over Dolphin

With an idea where the animal is there is some chance of capturing an image of him above the water, like this:

Bonaparte's Gull Fishing Around Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Fishing Around Dolphin

I had the pleasure of speaking with Lauren Rust, founder of The Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network (www.lmmn.org), while I was watching the Dolphins in the Kiawah River on March 18. She spends a lot of time monitoring the local Dolphin and shared with me that this behavior goes on regularly and she has wondered if it is the same few Gulls who have figured this out. The Dolphin is a two year old who still stays pretty close to its mother, who was feeding nearby.

Bonaparte's Gull Floating With Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Floating With Dolphin

These two had developed an understanding. and if you zoom in on the next image you’ll see the Gull got a fish just as the Dolphin ducked under the water.

Bonaparte's Gull Fishing Around Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Fishing Around Dolphin

It appeared that the Bonaparte’s Gull was following the Dolphin, which presumably was following fish.

Bonaparte's Gull Floating With Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Floating With Dolphin

Lastly, a wider view of the unlikely pair, taken on the Kiawah side of the river, looking towards Seabrook Island.

Bonaparte's Gull Fishing Around Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Fishing Around Dolphin

Dolphin Strand Feeding

Conditions shaped up nicely on Wednesday to head to Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island to observe Dolphins feeding. Timing was good, with low tide about 10:30am. Strand feeding, the method peculiar to this area of South Carolina’s coast where Dolphin drive fish to the shore, tends to happen two hours either side of the low tide.

For a couple of hours the light was good and I was pleased to get this sequence, which was much less vigorous than previous times I’ve witnessed this behavior. The Dolphin seemed to be lolling around in the shallow water, not zooming full speed ahead.

Dolphin Strand Feeding
Dolphin Strand Feeding

Other times I’ve seen this as a cooperative effort but this Dolphin was on her own.

Dolphin Strand Feeding
Dolphin Strand Feeding

My position and the shape of the sand bank cut off some of the action.

Dolphin Strand Feeding
Dolphin Strand Feeding

I got a little closer before the Dolphin flipped around and caught a fish.

Dolphin Strand Feeding
Dolphin Strand Feeding

Once again I was amazed the power of these animals which is evident in the splash of water and waves that rushed to shore.

Dolphin Strand Feeding
Dolphin Strand Feeding

It turns out that it was a good thing I went Wednesday. As of today all of the area beaches are closed due to Covid-19 concerns.

Pigs! Stop!

Ted spotted them when I was driving and of course yelled “stop!”  He got out of the car but I could not–it wasn’t a safe place to pull over plus I didn’t want to spook the pigs.

Wild Pigs
Wild Pigs

It was almost sunset with the sun was already down below the trees. I got a few images out the car window at a bad angle, in between watching out for cars running up behind us.

Wild Pigs
Wild Pigs

I was amazed how jet black this last little fellow was.

Wild Pigs
Wild Pigs

I expect Ted will have a variety of pictures and maybe a better story to tell.

Update: Ted’s version of events at TPJ Photo

Oliver, Truck Companion

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Oliver and his owner.

Oliver in Truck
Oliver in Truck

Oliver was buckled into the front seat of the truck for safety; they were about to head for home after a short road trip.

Oliver in Truck
Oliver in Truck

I got the impression that Oliver did not care where they were headed, he was quite happy to be along for the ride.

Oliver in Truck
Oliver in Truck

He looks a bit like a Huskie and clearly had eyes for his owner.

Oliver in Truck
Oliver in Truck

All ready here, just waiting on my pal.

Oliver in Truck
Oliver in Truck

Oliver had a clear view out the front, until nap time, which comes with a pillow in this well equipped truck.

Oliver in Truck
Oliver in Truck

American Mink

I had no idea what this was when I first spotted movement on the edge of an oyster bed. I had ducks on my mind as I’d seen them here before.

American Mink
American Mink

Those sharp oyster shells seem like a hazardous place for a Mink to hang out but he seemed at home here.

American Mink
American Mink

He came fully out of the water moving to the right, I changed position to see where he went. He did a u-turn and disappeared into the water. A short but interesting encounter.

American Mink
American Mink

Saint Phillips Island, 3, A Deer

White-tailed Deer are one of the mammals on Saint Phillips Island, and this one was not at all disturbed by a passing pickup truck and trailer with 20 humans watching him.

White-tailed Deer
White-tailed Deer

It was hot that day and I hadn’t even seen a squirrel, so was rather surprised to see this buck.

White-tailed Deer
White-tailed Deer

He finally did stand up, but showed no alarm.

White-tailed Deer
White-tailed Deer

Raccoons On A Walkabout

A family of Raccoons wandered along the edge of the marsh under a pier where I was standing. I got a few shots as they disappeared into the taller grass. It was one of those interesting things to see but a missed photographic opportunity. Or so I thought.

About ten minutes later the masked bandits made a return trip, this time coming towards me.

Raccoon Watching Me
Raccoon Watching Me

What could be so interesting up on this dead branch?

Raccoon Sniffing Branch
Raccoon Sniffing Branch

They was not be a group shot as they continued weaving in and out of the taller grass and shrubs.

Raccoons in Marsh Grass
Raccoons in Marsh Grass

They were cautious, but continued towards the pier.

Raccoons in Marsh Grass
Raccoons in Marsh Grass

This one appeared to be the ring leader, maybe a parent although they were all the same size. He stood watch while the others went back into the tall grass before he followed.

Raccoons in Marsh Grass
Raccoons in Marsh Grass

Dolphin Splash, Take 2

I thought the Dolphin from yesterday’s post, Dolphin Splash, would move on when the first big splash was done. I stood still, watching and was surprise he circled again in the same spot.

Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek
Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek

This time even more water went into the air…

Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek
Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek

… making a cool fountain shape.

Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek
Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek

I got a couple glimpses of the Dolphin’s fin, but again did not see if he got anything to eat.

Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek
Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek

Then he really did move on and this was the last I saw of him.

Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek
Dolphin moving down the creek

Dolphin Splash

The volume of water a Dolphin can move when they are hunting always amazes me. This one was after fish in a tidal creek that started off with a small splash…

Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek
Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek

…that built up …

Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek
Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek

… to a swoosh of water.

Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek
Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek

I was not close enough to see if the Dolphin caught any fish.

Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek
Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek

The water rained back down about 10 seconds after the first image.

Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek
Dolphin Splashing Water in Creek

The far bank is an oyster bed, covered with sharp shells, so the Dolphin cannot Strand Feed  here. Instead, they swim rapidly in a circle to herd and confuse the fish.