Category Archives: Birds

Northern Pintail

A small group of various ducks and American Coots, about fifty or so, was gathered near the edge of the Black Point Wildlife Drive. They didn’t pay much attention to the birders and photographers that stopped to have a look on this morning.

Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail

This Northern Pintail pair found each other in the group…

Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail

…then went about their business.

Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail

Some of the pairs took off as others landed, a constant changing of the group throughout the morning.

Northern Pintail
Northern Pintail

This is the closest I’ve seen a Pintail and was delighted to see how gorgeous they are.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, 01/28/2018.

Tundra Swans Taking Off

We went back to Bear Island Wildlife Management Area for another try at seeing the Tundra Swans taking off from their overnight resting spot. We couldn’t get very close but we did get to see, and hear, a few.

Tundra Swans Taking Off
Tundra Swans Taking Off

These swans can weigh up to 23 pounds (10 Kilos) so getting into the air takes a huge effort and considerable runway distance.

Tundra Swans Taking Off
Tundra Swans Taking Off

The noise of the flapping of their wings echoing across the pond first alerted me. The ducks and other swans behind them paid no attention.

Tundra Swans Taking Off
Tundra Swans Taking Off

Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, 1/24/2018

Canada Geese and Snow

Our subdivision has a nature trail that circles around three connected ponds that border a small stream. I have avoided checking it out over the last year and half due to neighborhood stories about snakes. This week’s record setting weather made me feel pretty safe in that department and with the roads still unsafe to my favorite spots away I went!

Canada Geese in the Snow
Canada Geese in the Snow

I came upon about 30 Canada Geese quietly hanging around in one of the ponds in small groups. The sun was shining and the temperature was hovering just above freezing.

Canada Geese in a Snowy Pond
Canada Geese in a Snowy Pond

Who knows what a bird might think about this unexpected turn of events, but these Geese seemed to be managing. There are Canada Geese here year round so it’s impossible to know if they are locals or migratory, in which case they might not be that surprised.

01/05/2018, our third day in a row with snow on the ground, Dorchester County, SC

Sharing Space

The turtles are the most likely to be seen sharing space with other creatures around the swamp and ponds. They crave the sun just like the alligators on this reptile ramp and don’t show any fear in the presence of an alligator that could easily eat them.

Alligator and Turtles
Alligator and Turtles

Wading birds like this Great Egret like a sunny spot, too, and easily find a spot in between the turtles on a nearby ramp.

Great Egret and Turtles
Great Egret and Turtles

I don’t know what this “foot in the air” display from the turtle just to the right of the egret is all about, but a little further along in another small pond I saw it again, with both hind feet straight out.

Two Turtles Sharing a Log
Two Turtles Sharing a Log

Grebe: Taking Duckweed for a Spin

I spotted this Pied-billed Grebe as swam out of a patch of duckweed.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

Usually Grebes will dive just as you are focusing on them and I fully expected this one to, just to clean off if not to get away from the edge of the pond.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe giving a shake

Evidently the duckweed wasn’t bothering him because after a shake he continued paddling on his way.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

Pileated Woodpecker Overhead

Without any fuss this Pileated Woodpecker flew into a tree above my head as a few folks were gathered to watch the Great Blue Herons nesting. His “do” would suggest he might be shocked, too.

Pileated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker

Photographing birds over your head is not the ideal situation and perhaps not the best view of the bird but this angle shows off his impressive beak.

Pileated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker

He didn’t do any drilling or even poke around the tree, just sat there for about five minutes.  The few tourists passing underneath him didn’t capture his attention. There were a few Red Shouldered Hawks patrolling the area behind us and maybe he was hiding. He left as quick as he came with no noise, back the way he had come.

Pileated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker

 

Tundra Swans

The real reason we headed out early yesterday morning was not for the sunrise of my last post, but to see the Tundra Swans take off. We did not get to see where they spent the night or lift off but did catch them in air well after the sun was up.

Tundra Swans in Flight
Tundra Swans in Flight

Around three hundred Tundra Swans are known to winter within South Carolina’s Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, likely descendants of a group that first came here in the 1970s with a flock of Canada Geese.

Tundra Swans in Flight
Tundra Swans in Flight

The Swans flew over us in small groups, mostly headed down the coast. During the day they spread out through the ACE Basin (Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto River Basin), 350,000 acres of mostly marshes and wetlands, to feed. They return to Bear Island WMA each night.

Tundra Swans in Flight
Tundra Swans in Flight

The Tundra Swans will leave SC by early March headed toward their breeding grounds in the Arctic.