Category Archives: Nature

Resting American White Pelicans

We had seen a few White Pelicans in the air earlier in the morning so weren’t too surprised to see them resting on the ground at the edge of a pond and happily stopped to see so many. They were quite a distance off the road but there was a clear view and I would say there were at least two hundred birds.

White Pelicans and Wading Birds
White Pelicans and Wading Birds

A number of Great Egrets and Snowy Egrets were sprinkled around the periphery of the group, including this group looking like a police line up.

White Pelicans
White Pelicans and Wading Birds

Most of the Pelicans were preening or resting. A few Coots were going about their business in the water around them.

White Pelicans
White Pelicans

One daring Great Egret landed right in the middle of small group of Pelicans. The Pelicans took no notice.

White Pelicans and Wading Birds
White Pelicans and Wading Birds

Photographed at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida, 2/21/2018.

Splish Splash Mallards

Mallards doing the Mallard bath in a pond, as can be seen throughout most of the United Sates and Canada. We rarely see Mallards in the other ponds we visit, but Magnolia Cemetery is more of an urban location where you would expect them to congregate.

Male Mallard Bathing
Male Mallard Bathing

The sun was perfect on this early February afternoon and the Mallards were enjoying an unseasonably warm day.

Female Mallard Bathing
Female Mallard bathing flanked by two males

After bathing they had a dead tree trunk to perch on, out of the water and with a good view of potential hazards. This pond does host a few Alligators, I have seen fox on the cemetery grounds, and a few Red-shouldered Hawks could be heard nearby.

Mallard Trio on Log
Mallard Trio on Log

Click any image for larger view.

Hooded Merganser Pair

The same pair of Hooded Mergansers as yesterday’s post had places to go as they were out for a swim around one of Magnolia Cemetery’s ponds. The male gradually caught up to the female as they passed this group of Mallards on the edge of a small island.

Hooded Merganser Pair
Hooded Merganser Pair

The Mergansers weren’t in such a hurry that they chose to fly, but they didn’t divert even as the Mallards  went about their preening and flapping.

Hooded Merganser Pair
Hooded Merganser Pair

The Mergansers continued on their way, the female in the lead, headed out into the middle of the pond.

Hooded Merganser Pair
Hooded Merganser Pair

Spoonbill Gathering

I saw a lot of Roseate Spoonbills the first three days of my Florida trip in January but at a distance, behind low scrub and/or in low light. Finally on the third afternoon we came upon a flock of mixed wading birds in a marsh that was close enough to the road for clear photographs.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills & White Ibis

The flock was working from our right to the left, both wading and taking short flying hops.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills & White Ibis

The Ibis and Spoonbills seem quite content to hang out together.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills & White Ibis

This Roseate Spoonbill trio really show off the darker pink band on their wings, a contrast with the White Ibis that has just a hint of black on his wing tips.

Roseate Spoonbills
Roseate Spoonbills & White Ibis

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, 1/28/2018

Pelican Air Ballet

A fellow photographer spotted the Pelicans at quite a distance when we stopped to view some ducks along Black Point Wildlife Drive. We watched them approach for what seemed like several minutes but probably was only 30 seconds, hoping they would land in the pond in front of us.

American White Pelicans in Flight
American White Pelicans in Flight

Instead they treated us to an amazing aerial  ballet, with the birds shifting position in the group, breaking apart and reforming, in an elegant flight display.

American White Pelicans in Flight
American White Pelicans in Flight

The American White Pelican is one of North America’s largest birds, with a wingspan from 8-10 feet (2.5-3 meters)!

American White Pelicans in Flight
American White Pelicans in Flight

As they glided by I could see that the individual birds adjusted their altitude as well as their flock position and no matter how close they got to each other there was no evidence of an in-flight bump.

American White Pelicans in Flight
American White Pelicans in Flight

Photographed at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Florida.

Click photos for larger view.

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

Downy Woodpecker

A Downy Woodpecker right out where you can see her! An advantage to winter is less viewing obstruction of the little birds as they go about their business.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

This one wasn’t doing much pecking but investigated around this tree trunk.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

She left me with a perfect profile shot, compete with lichen framing.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker

Click any photo for a larger view.

Fall Blooming Narcissus

Narcissus are touted as spring blooming plants but here we are in December and once again this year I’ve spotted some gracing the pathway to the dike around the old rice field we frequent.

This path is lined with huge trees and not much light reaches the ground in any season making it a surprise that these bulbs can rejuvenate year after year. This is not an area that is currently being tended and doesn’t look like it has for some number of years.

Narcissus
Narcissus

A bee found his way to the bloom and checked each cup carefully.

Narcissus
Narcissus

Click on either photo for larger view.

Gathered Around

The Cormorants were content drying their wings on the Alligator ramp as a murky sun warmed the afternoon. A Great Blue Heron came along and disrupted their peace.

Gathering Spot
Great Blue Heron coming in, Cormorants holding their territory

The Cormorants did not surrender their ground despite some posturing from the Great Blue.

Gathering Spot
Great Blue Heron puffed up

An Alligator popped up to see what was happening as I continued along my walk.

Gathering Spot
Great Blue Heron, Cormorants, and Alligator

Sunset

My sunset photographs rarely do the real scene justice. Often it is because there is nothing in the foreground to make a good composition. These dead trees on a nearby beach are a little something but I didn’t get a great angle.

Sunset
Sunset

Knowing the right spots for the time of year is a help. So is luck. Now that we are in our second year in South Carolina I might do better with the locations. For the luck, all you can do is get out there.

Sunset
Sunset

This evening the sunset was spectacular. Really.

Sunset
Sunset

Taken 11/14/2017, Folly Beach, SC.