Category Archives: Raptor

Osprey Catch Of The Day, Part 2

Still wet after his dive to  catch this fish the Osprey shook off then proceeded to consume his meal at a steady pace.

Osprey Eating Fish
Osprey Eating Fish

He started at the head and worked meticulously down the fish. I didn’t see a single piece fall although my attention did waver as this process took about 15 minutes.

Osprey Eating Fish
Osprey Eating Fish – click photo for closer view of his talons

The Osprey’s attention was diverted a couple of times when a Red Shouldered Hawk was calling on the other side of the pond. The Hawk never came close and the Osprey went back to eating.

Osprey Eating Fish
Osprey Looking Around Holding Fish

A foot bridge crosses the pond and I was able to get a different angle out on the bridge.

Osprey Eating Fish
Osprey Eating Fish

I didn’t see him leave and a few minutes later I heard his distinctive call out over a nearby marsh.

Click on any photo for a larger view.

Did You See A Hawk?

I heard several Hawks calling around Magnolia Cemetery but didn’t see any. Sometimes they perch on head stones or in the trees around the pond. Oh well, nothing wrong with getting photos of an Ibis displaying his tree landing talents. I’m guessing he didn’t see the Hawk, either, as he executed a perfect touch down.

Ibis Landing Next to Hawk
Ibis Landing Next to Hawk

He blended right in so I lightened him a little. You can find him in the photo above by following the Ibis’s beak in a straight line left. Below, the Ibis has passed the Hawk.

Ibis Landing Next to Hawk
Ibis Landing Next to Hawk

You can see from the other photos that the Hawk moved only his head, neither intimidated by the Ibis nor thinking he’d make a good meal.

Ibis Landing Next to Hawk
Ibis Landing Next to Hawk

I did spot the Hawk after a few minutes and got a now deleted photo of one wing disappearing over a Magnolia tree.

Osprey Catch Of The Day, Part 1

I was idly watching some mallards swim across the big pond at Magnolia Cemetery when I heard the splash. By the time I had him sighted he was out of the water.

Osprey With Fish
Osprey With Fish

Osprey often go completely under when they dive. I’m not sure this pond is deep enough for that but he still had to work very hard to get airborne with his catch.

Osprey With Fish
Osprey With Fish

Finally up in the air, the Osprey hung on to the fish with both feet.

Osprey With Fish
Osprey Flying With Fish

A branch hanging over the water provided a perfect lunch spot with a view.

Osprey With Fish
Osprey with fish ready to eat

Click on any photo for a larger view.

 

Owl in the Forest

Old-growth swamp forest, to be more precise, and a great home for Barred Owls. Some of the trees here are 1000 plus years old and the water circulating around them provides a perpetual feast for owls.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

There are currently two pair of Barred Owls frequenting the boardwalk area maintained by Audubon South Carolina.  We heard them calling to each other in the distance throughout our visit and then spotted this one napping.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

Dappled lighting through the leaves and the stillness of the owl makes me wonder if we walked past his mate without realizing it.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

Beidler Forest sits within the Four Holes Swamp, a 45,000-acre matrix of black water sloughs and lakes, shallow bottomland hardwoods, and deep bald cypress and tupelo gum flats. Four Holes Swamp is also a major tributary of the Edisto River, part of the Charleston area’s famous ACE basin. Over 17,000 of the swamp’s acres are owned by the National Audubon Society and make up what is known as the Francis Beidler Forest.

Audubon Center & Sanctuary at the Francis Beidler Forest, South Carolina, 9/17/2017.

A Raptor

Small Coopers Hawk, Sharp-shinned Hawk, or maybe a Merlin? Hanging out where a forested area meets an agricultural field, any of them could be at home here.

Small Raptor
Small Raptor

The features that CornellLab’s All About Birds uses to distinguish the Merlin from the Sharp-shinned Hawk require flight or at least other angles. The Sharp-shinned Hawk has short, rounded wings and  a very long tail. The Merlin has sharply pointed wings, a broad chest, and a medium length tail. Then there are the sex and age variations to confuse the ID.

Small Raptor
Small Raptor

It may come down to the “bluntness” of the face: the Merlin, a falcon, has a blunt face and the hawks are more pointy.

Small Raptor
Small Raptor

This fellow stayed put even after I took his photo and had moved on.

Barred Owl Watching Me

We often walk around a path where a pair of Barred Owls has been seen regularly since the spring. This was the first time I saw them both. The Owl below was quietly watching us while we photographed his mate in a tree on the other side of the path.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl- click image for larger view

I had stepped aside to let another photographer get a view of the first Owl and was surprised to see and get better shots of Owl number two. There were lots of branches preventing a wider shot but he was closer and the light was a little better. He didn’t stay long and after this over-the-shoulder glance he swooped further out into the trees.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl – click image for larger view

Red-tailed Hawk Downtown

We often walk through the cemetery at Charleston’s Circular Congregational Church when we are in the neighborhood. Filled with trees, it is welcoming to many birds which may be why a Red-tailed Hawk buzzed the area, cruising over my head. He never slowed and I watched his beautiful tail disappear over a wall headed towards Queen Street.

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk

We headed that way too, wondering if he might be perched in a nearby tree. Even better, he was in clear view on the tile roof of one of the old French Quarter homes.

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk against a harsh sky

I switched to my long lens and he stayed put while I angled around the front of the building, getting a few views of this temporary king of Queen Street.

Red-tailed Hawk
Red-tailed Hawk — finally a view with the tail

Daily life went on below him: post-Irma trash pick up, street repairs, tourists bent on seeing every street but missing the details, a suited business man conducting his business on the phone in the street…nothing seemed to faze him.

Barred Owl Gets Lunch

Barred Owl watches the water below.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl Perched in Tree – click on image for larger view

With little warning the Owl swoops from the branch to the water.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl drops out of tree – click on image for larger view

After a small splash around at the base of the tree the Owl emerges…

Barred Owl
Barred Owl – click on image for larger view

Yes, he was successful! A fresh water shrimp or some type of crayfish was firmly clasped in the Owl’s beak.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl with lunch – click on image for larger view

The Owl flew to a safer spot, transferring his catch to his claw, and in no time he had consumed it.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl securely holding his catch – click on image for larger view

Barred Owl

This Barred Owl was looking over a small pond in a grove of trees that let very little light through.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl – click photo for larger view

He was more concerned with watching for movement in the water and on the small island than with humans passing by.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl – click photo for larger view

The Owl moved from tree to tree, patiently looking for a meal. Unfortunately the space was too tight to get an in flight shot.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl – click photo for larger view

Checking out the water below with a twist of his head, the Owl’s giant feet were on display.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl – click photo for larger view