Category Archives: Birds

Great Egret Chick Trio

The Great Egret chicks in the top of the three nests in this tree are becoming more mobile and easier to photograph as they stand up to check mom/dad for food. The other adult in the lower left is standing on her own nest on the next level down, where so far i have not seen chicks.

Three Great Egret Chicks in Nest
Three Great Egret Chicks in Nest , Another Adult Below – Click photo for larger view

The food is gone but the chicks’ beaks keep on moving. They maneuver to the edge of the nest, precariously close it appears from my vantage point. I likely made the same comment about the Great Blue Heron chicks. I’ve never seen an adult Great Egret or Great Blue Heron perform any type of protective move to get a chick away from the edge.

Three Great Egret Chicks in Nest
Three Great Egret Chicks in Nest with Adult – Click photo for larger view

The adult looks ready to fly off and get a break from the little ones.

Three Great Egret Chicks in Nest
Adult and Three Great Egret Chicks in Nest  – Click photo for larger view

Pelican: Master of the Glide

Quietly and without any fuss Pelicans glide around the edges of the harbor. Generally moving at a slow speed, the shot is all about the angle.

Coming straight at me, this pair turned together like a pair of dancers.

Pelican Gliding Over Charleston Harbor
Pelican Pair Gliding Over Charleston Harbor – click photo for larger view

They veered off at the last moment, following the shape of the USS Yorktown and staying over the water. I was at the edge of the flight deck where the deck becomes wider.

Pelican Pair Gliding Alongside the USS Yorktown
Pelican Pair Gliding Alongside the USS Yorktown – click photo for larger view

This single Pelican was also following the edge of the Yorktown, a little higher off the water, with the  Charleston Peninsula as his backdrop.

Pelican Gliding Over Charleston Harbor
Pelican Gliding Over Charleston Harbor – Along Side of USS Yorktown – click photo for larger view

The Pelican’s large wingspan makes a shot against the sky work. The feather and chest detail show off nicely as he passed over me with just a tilt to alter his direction.

Pelican Gliding Over Charleston Harbor
Pelican Gliding, Feet Perfectly Tucked – click photo for larger view

Taken three days in May, 2017.

Flight! Or “I Can’t Believe I Missed It”

I was standing right there in my usual spot. Both Great Blue Heron chicks were in the nest.  I took a few shots of the chick pair and even commented that maybe today was the day for flight.

Great Blue Heron Chick
Great Blue Heron Chick

I looked away to see what a nearby Alligator was doing and it was over. Probably not his first flight, but still.

Great Blue Heron Chick
Great Blue Heron Chick

The chick landed in the trees on the long side of the pond and stood there. And stood there. After about 15 minutes he flew. I missed the take off and couldn’t get a shot in flight. He moved around a couple more times and I decided not to wait any longer and moved along.

From a spot not far from where he first landed I did see him return to the nest. His sibling, who still has shown no interest in flying, gave an affectionate wing greeting.

Great Blue Heron Chick
Great Blue Heron Chick

Too far for crisp shots but I was still happy to see the Great Blue Heron’s next life stage. And I know know that they do return to their nest after fledging, at least for one day.

Great Blue Heron Chicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks

He seemed quite happy with his new found skill, flapping and hopping from one edge of the tree to the other.

Great Blue Heron Chick
Great Blue Heron Chick

He kept this up for 10 or 15 minutes, then settled down next to his sibling, resting for his next excursion and probably hoping for a snack to appear. In the three hours we were in the area no GBH adult appeared at this nest.

Charleston, SC 05/14/2017

Birds on the USS Yorktown (CV-10)

The USS Yorktown (CV-10) is covered with attractive nooks and crannies if you are a bird. This includes the twelve historic aircraft on display on the flight deck.

Grackle Sitting on Helicopter
Grackle Sitting on Helicopter – click photo for larger view

Grackles were particularly abundant this week, using all openings for their homes.

Grackle Nesting in Aircraft
Grackle Nesting in Aircraft – click photo for larger view

An Osprey nest is perched in the tower. I hope it is a little sturdier than it appears here, at the top of the ladder.

Osprey Nest in Top of USS Yorktown – click photo for larger view

A small flock of House Finches was perching off the edges of the flight deck on safety netting. I wasn’t able to see where they might be nesting as they zipped back and forth, somewhere below the edge of the deck.

House Finches hanging off USS Yorktown
House Finches hanging off USS Yorktown – click photo for larger view

The USS Yorktown (CV-10) is the centerpiece of Patriots Point Naval & Maritime Museum, Mount Pleasant, SC. Towed to this spot in 1975 the Yorktown itself is a museum and additionally houses a number of exhibits associated with its history dating back to World War II.

Finally Some Interest in Flying

From what I have researched these Great Blue Heron chicks, now about 10 weeks old, should have fledged. I’ve seen very little interest in wing flapping or exploring the outer reaches of the nest until yesterday. Neither one actually lifted off, but they each did a little “hop” with wings flapping.

Great Blue Heron CHicks
Great Blue Heron chick wing flapping – click image for larger view

No one I have talked to at the swamp knows if they get flying lessons from their parents or if the chicks will just take off one day. Or if the adults take them to a good fishing spot to get their own dinner or if they just figure it out on their own. I hope to see some of these things play out before this nesting season is over.

Great Blue Heron CHicks
Great Blue Heron chicks  learning their wings- click image for larger view

Each time I stop by I expect this pair to be gone. Of course at that point I wouldn’t know if they flew or something unfortunate had happened to them. If they land in the water a nearby alligator is sure to get an inexperienced flyer.

Great Blue Heron CHicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks – click image for larger view

I’m Not Looking

With their nests occupying the same tree the Great Egret seems to have come to a truce with the Great Blue Heron chicks. For now.

Great Egret and Great Blue Herons
Nesting Great Egret and Great Blue Heron Chicks  – click image for larger view

When the chicks were smaller an Egret tried to evict the chicks by forcible means. They were successful at this in some other nests but these two chicks persevered. Today they were ignoring each other.

Great Egret and Great Blue Herons
Great Egret and Great Blue Heron Chick  – click image for larger view

If Great Egrets successfully hatch in this nest I expect there will be some more squabbling. I’m hoping the Great Blue Heron chicks will fledge before that happens. They are about nine weeks old so it can’t be too far off — I’ve seen estimates from seven to ten weeks.

Great Egret and Great Blue Herons
Great Egret and Great Blue Herons Chick- click image for larger view

This particular pair of chicks has shown very little sign of “wingercizing,” flapping their wings to get prepared to learn to fly. I’ve seen the larger chick in the nearby chick trio, younger by a couple of weeks, do it quite often. Maybe they just flap their wings and go one day.

American Avocet

The colors and upturned bill makes the American Avocet an easy ID.

American Avocets

Getting a good photograph across the mud flats of this impoundment at Bear Island Wildlife Management area was another story.

American Avocet – click photo for larger view

This single one ventured closer to the edge, co-mingling with Plovers, Sanderlings, Willets and the other shore birds working the shallow water.

Shore Birds Working the Mud Flats

Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, SC, 4/26/2017.

Shades of Blue

The Little Blue Herons are working on their nests on the interiors of two little islands. They get into squabbles with their mates or their neighbors then take a spin around the island, sometimes taking a time out before getting back into the fray in the dense undergrowth.

Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron – click photo for larger view

Out in the open it is easier to see their beautiful blues. The intense blue on their beaks is a match for the blue sky on this April day.

Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron – click photo for larger view

An in-flight photo from underneath gives a perspective on their wing spans and shows off that their bodies aren’t all blue.

Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron – click photo for larger view

The Little Blue Heron’s various blues seem more purple than blue in the bright sun. This one is about to disappear into the greenery towards his nest.

Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron – click photo for larger view

April 22, 2017.

Chicks Growing Like Weeds

The large wading bird chicks grow fast. It seems like the Great Egret chicks are doing so at a faster rate than the Great Blue Herons but it’s hard to know for sure.

I took these sets of photos just 13 days apart. In the first photo of the Great Egrets the second chick is beak wrestling with the adult.

Great Egret and Chick
Great Egret and Chick – click photo for larger view

By the time of the second photo there isn’t much room for the adult in this tree side nest any more. The adults perch on side branches and stretch in with food.

Two Great Egret Chicks
Two Great Egret Chicks – click photo for larger view

In the top nest of this tree, the Great Blue Heron chick was upright but not very steady on April 15th.

Great Blue Heron and Chick
Great Blue Heron and Chick – click photo for larger view

On the 28th you can see his growth progress using the tree as a marker, much like a child’s doorway growth chart.

Great Blue Heron Chick – click photo for larger view

For perspective, here is the whole tree from the end of the pond taken April 28th. The Great Blue Heron nest is at the top left, there is a Great Egret nest with three chicks in the middle, and the Great Egret nest with the two chicks shown above is at the bottom. The greenery keeps the nest with three chicks from view from the side of the pond.

Tree with three nests
Tree with three nests – click photo for larger view

You can also see two ramps, the closer one has an Alligator peeking over the top and the further one has at least two gators draped on it. The further ramp is the one featured yesterday where the duckling escapade took place.