A mother Raccoon was herding three of her children along the edge of the Vierra Wetlands drive. The slope down away from the road is mowed and then there is a wide section of tall marsh grasses before an impoundment of open water.
We watched from the car as the family was weaving in and out of the taller grasses and reeds. Occasionally mama came further out into the mowed area to check back on what her charges were up to.
I’ve heard stories and read articles about South Carolina’s wild pigs, especially about how destructive they can be and how their population has exploded since the 1980s. Depending on the source they may be referred to as hogs or boars. This is the first one I’ve seen and in quite an unexpected spot: a canal at the edge of an old rice field where I’ve often photographed egrets, herons and alligators.
There is still a little snow around the edges of the ponds, some of the non-moving water is frozen over and the dense grass areas have ice in them. This may have been the best watering spot he could find, even with the mud.
He sauntered away–I’m not sure he could have run if he needed to, being up to his knees in that mud.
On my second trip out with my new Sony Alpha 6500, which was intended for landscapes you may have noted from my last post, we came upon a Bobcat at the Charles Towne Landing Animal Forest. This South Carolina State run park includes a number of animals that would have been in the area in the 1600s when the first settlers arrived. The Bobcat is in an enclosure but he had chosen a perfect spot above his fencing to give us a barrier free view.
I had been taking test shots with various focus and exposure settings with the 18-110mm lens mounted. Of course I wished I had the longer lens on, but I did want to see how the lens would perform and didn’t want to take a chance he would leave while I was changing lenses.
The Bobcat was asleep in the sun when we first saw him and it turns out I had ample opportunity to adjust the camera settings, drop the lens hood then the UV filter that wasn’t tightened enough, and take some photos with the shorter lens before he opened his eyes.
He started stretching as I switched lenses. I should have changed to a faster shutter speed at this point but was still pleased with the images.
After a look around the Bobcat dropped out of the tree and disappeared into the undergrowth.
I did not see the Needlefish when I was taking these shots. The glare from the afternoon sun and the splash from the strand feeding Dolphin were what I saw in the viewfinder while I was hoping the Dolphin’s head would emerge through the water.
The fish’s jumping skills outran the Dolphin’s efforts to corner him near shore.
In a matter of seconds the the Dolphin turned back into the deeper water.
The tide was coming in working against the river flowing out. A group of about a dozen Dolphins worked up and down the mouth of the river giving fleeting glimpses of fins, tails, and head bobs, mostly out in the middle of the river.
Dolphins hunt for food cooperatively and I have seen pairs and groups of 4 or 5 working together. Often it is hard to tell how many because they aren’t visible at the same time and can travel long distances under water. This pair showed off a few elegant moves before they went on their way.
The bank of the river is very steep here which not only helps the Dolphin corral fish to feed on but it creates a funnel wave up the shore. I could hear the water coming and didn’t want to miss the Dolphin, but I think the funnel may have been a more interesting photograph. I’ll need to see this a few more times to get placed properly for the best shot.
He’s in there somewhere. Amazingly fast and agile, Dolphins create a swirl in the water as they zoom by.
The splash was quite dramatic as he made a turn, sending an incredible amount of water airborne.
There is at least 1000 feet of river shoreline where the Dolphins were feeding this day, and with their speed it was tough to choose a place to stand.
I have frequently seen Dolphins in the ocean, rivers and creeks while out photographing in the greater Charleston area. Except for one frenzied experience in May I had only seen glimpses and teases of the promise of getting a Dolphin photo that included more than a fin.
Yesterday that changed when we watched six or eight Dolphins interacting in the mouth of a river. This group rose and dove around each other, with the juvenile often nudging up against one of the adults.
Following their swimming pattern helps to be looking in the right place for their next appearance but they are quick to change direction. Occasionally did something totally different!
Several of the adults stayed in the periphery of the group and also took some time for feeding along the river edge, which will be another post.
After about a half hour the group moved further from us then disappeared around a corner.
The wind at the beach got the approval of this Basset Hound.
I think of these hounds as being plodders, but this fellow broke into a joyful run down the beach with all four feet off the sand. A senior citizen, he soon returned to a stately walk and was happy to rest when his people sat on a chunk of driftwood.
A big splash got our attention as we were leaving the USS Yorktown at the Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum this afternoon. I thought it might be an Alligator, then saw a high splash of water.
The dolphin made his way up and down the stretch of water that sits between the museum boats and the shore, splashing as he went. Fortunately for me there is a dock that runs parallel to the shore and away I went to follow the unfolding drama.
A large fish started jumping out of the water trying to stay ahead of the dolphin.
He got caught!
Then got away!
Undeterred, the dolphin tried again while a Snowy Egret decided to relocate further from the action.
The volume of water and waves the dolphin splashed up was incredible to watch.
After picking this treasure directly off the tree with a resounding “snap” the squirrel settled in and delicately ate it. He slowly turned and savored the nut/seed showing off some pretty serious claws.
It was surprising to see him so still for so long as most squirrels I see are running and jumping around in a chaotic way. What nature photographer hasn’t had a fright when a squirrel suddenly careened across their path?