I had been watching some small birds flit in and out of the underbrush at the side of the road. The sun had just come up and they were hunting for breakfast in the lowest, darkest parts of the vegetation. This Palm Warbler finally took a break in the sun on a reed frond.
I was able to get a few steps closer and get a few images at a different angle before he went back to foraging.
In the three weeks since I photographed an Orchard Oriole working on her nest I’ve passed by the tree several times and seen no activity. On Sunday a male was sitting on branches about 30 feet from the nest.
After carefully watching the area he zipped into the nest with the grasshopper. You can just see one wing and a tail hanging out the entrance.
The nest was swinging back and forth in a light breeze and the male made a quick exit.
My question, was the male feeding his mate while she sat on eggs or chicks, was soon answered when the female appeared with another grasshopper.
The female was coming in at a different angle and had to pause to get into the nest.
After delivering the snack she came out with a fecal sac and disappeared into the woods.
We drive through several miles of forest to get to the big pond at Donnelley Wildlife Management area. The tree canopy filters the light and somehow the little birds that I have a clear view of are seldom in a patch of light. That doesn’t stop me from taking some images and occasionally I get a keeper like this silhouette.
It took me about five of her trips to catch this female Orchard Oriole pausing outside her nest. I had first seen her dart up to the branch and then poof, she was gone. I watched this clump of Spanish Moss for awhile and saw it moving like someone was in it and finally saw a head peak out. The opening of the nest faces the limb with leaves.
Fortunately for me she was a creature of habit and flew the same pattern from the nest to a swampy area to gather grass and back, singing both ways alerting me to be ready.
On one of her trips she stopped for a look around before continuting on her way.
The light was low and it was raining off and on as we made our way around the board walk over the swamp at Beidler Forest, a property managed by Audubon South Carolina. I heard a warbler calling way before I saw this bird and his mouthful of bugs.
I was quite surprised he was so close to the boardwalk. He moved to different branches a few times, keeping a tight grip on his bug collection. After a couple minutes he flew out of my sight.
Further on I spotted another Prothonotary Warbler bringing food to a nest in a Cypress Knee. It was even darker then and rain was about to fall in earnest. The image is not great but you can get an idea of where these warblers rear their young.
Both of these birds were banded, part of a research project to study their migration.
Beidler is the world’s largest virgin cypress-tupelo swamp forest — a pristine ecosystem untouched for millennia.
Audubon South Carolina
Ah, the Carolina Wren. a cute little bird everyone loves to see zipping around. This one was showing off his hopping skill.
This one has something, probably a bug, in his beak and he is on a mission to take it somewhere.
He hopped all along our back fence before flying off into the woods.
The Carolina Wren has been a photography nemesis for me. The very first time I got out of the car at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens there were several perched jauntily on the pines in the parking lot, traveling up and down the rough bark that would have made an excellent background.
Excited to be near so much nature potential I thought I would have plenty of opportunities with this little bird so didn’t take any shots. I was in South Carolina, after all. Ha! Two years and many, many wren butts later these are the best images I’ve taken.
The Prothonotary Warblers won’t be in our area long so I spent some time around the edges of the swamp looking for them earlier this week. They are fast in flight, like tree tops, and don’t stay in one place for long, making them a challenge to track and to photograph.
This one must have liked the sun or the view because he stayed in this lichen covered branch for several minutes.
In the inner branches is usually where that flash of yellow streaks by.