Category Archives: Shore Birds

Willet On The Hunt, In The Wind

It was late afternoon and windy at the beach when I spotted a Willet hunting in a tidal pool.

Wind Pushed Willet On The Hunt
Wind Pushed Willet On The Hunt

Often these shore birds go back and forth in the same pool, probing around the edges for food.

Wind Pushed Willet On The Hunt
Wind Pushed Willet On The Hunt

This time the wind kept him moving further down the beach.

Wind Pushed Willet On The Hunt
Wind Pushed Willet On The Hunt

He was having success at finding some snacks.

Wind Pushed Willet On The Hunt
Wind Pushed Willet On The Hunt

Flying By With Lunch

Gulls and terns were snagging lunch out of the pond and flying off to eat it on a recent gorgeous blue-skyed day.

Tern Flying with Fish
Common Tern Flying with Fish

The gulls will try to steal another bird’s catch so a successful hunter will quickly move on to a safer spot to eat.

Tern Flying with Fish
Tern Flying with Fish

Most of the catching was on the other side of the pond, swooping away from me.

Tern Catching Fish
Tern Catching Fish

This tern opted to fly low with his catch.

Common Tern Flying with Fish
Common Tern Flying with Fish

While a gull took off higher before disappearing over the marsh.

Gull Flying with Fish
Laughing Gull Flying with Fish

August 4, 2020

The Amazing Hover, 2

Further along in my walk after photographing The Amazing Hover, 1 I spotted another hunting Least Tern.

Least Tern Hovering
Least Tern Hovering

It was interesting to see the bird from a head-on angle, and how his wings worked.

Least Tern Hovering
Least Tern Hovering

He moved very little, hovering in place. I had no trouble staying focused on his position.

Least Tern Hovering
Least Tern Hovering

And I got the start of a dive. Unfortunately my view of the surface was obstructed and I missed the splash and couldn’t tell if he caught a fish.

Least Tern Hovering
Least Tern Hovering

Greater Yellowlegs Hunting

This Greater Yellowlegs was working a shallow pond.

Greater Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs

He was quick.

Greater Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs

And successful!

Greater Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs

His selection might have been a bit too big.

Greater Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs

Rearrange it, then swallow.

Greater Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs

Let’s look for more.

Greater Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs

I’m going with the Merlin Bird ID suggestion that this is the Greater Yellowlegs, not the Lesser Yellowlegs. The distinction is in a comparison of their beak size to their head size: the Greater YL’s beak is 1.5 times the size of his head, with the Lesser YL’s beak being much shorter.

Greater Yellowlegs
Greater Yellowlegs

April 25, 2019

Young Dolphin and Bonaparte’s Gull

Or Follow The Food

Dolphin can be hard to spot from shore until they break the surface but this Bonaparte’s Gull served as a great marker for me. You can just make out the young Dolphin below and to the left of the bird.

Bonaparte's Gull Fishing Around Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Hovering Over Dolphin

With an idea where the animal is there is some chance of capturing an image of him above the water, like this:

Bonaparte's Gull Fishing Around Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Fishing Around Dolphin

I had the pleasure of speaking with Lauren Rust, founder of The Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network (www.lmmn.org), while I was watching the Dolphins in the Kiawah River on March 18. She spends a lot of time monitoring the local Dolphin and shared with me that this behavior goes on regularly and she has wondered if it is the same few Gulls who have figured this out. The Dolphin is a two year old who still stays pretty close to its mother, who was feeding nearby.

Bonaparte's Gull Floating With Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Floating With Dolphin

These two had developed an understanding. and if you zoom in on the next image you’ll see the Gull got a fish just as the Dolphin ducked under the water.

Bonaparte's Gull Fishing Around Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Fishing Around Dolphin

It appeared that the Bonaparte’s Gull was following the Dolphin, which presumably was following fish.

Bonaparte's Gull Floating With Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Floating With Dolphin

Lastly, a wider view of the unlikely pair, taken on the Kiawah side of the river, looking towards Seabrook Island.

Bonaparte's Gull Fishing Around Dolphin
Bonaparte’s Gull Fishing Around Dolphin