Category Archives: Wading 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

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

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.

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.

Great Egrets Going About Their Day

The Great Egrets are in different stages of reproducing around the rookery, from fancy courting to feeding chicks.

Great Egrets in Tree
Great Egret Fan Dancing in Tree – click photo for larger view

This set of three nests arranged like stepped condos always has something going on.

Great Egrets in Tree
Great Egrets in Tree – click photo for larger view

A little later on the male took a loop around the tree on his way for more sticks for his mate. The Great Egrets regularly rob each others’ nests of sticks and some fall out so it is an ongoing job. The adult at the nest likes to have something to poke around, too.

Great Egret Fly By
Great Egret Fly By – click photo for larger view

Further down the pond a pair of Great Egret chicks were getting a meal. This nest is away from the trail and harder to see but it sure looks like the chicks don’t have much holding them in.

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

 

Ardea alba.

Walk, Snack, Walk

On a casual afternoon stroll around the edge of the pond, this Great Blue Heron wasn’t paying much attention to what was beneath the water’s surface.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron wading around pond – click on photo for larger view

Or so I thought! Snatch and he had speared a small fish which went down in one gulp.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron with fish  – click on photo for larger view

Then on about his stroll. He’s likely made this circuit before and knew he wouldn’t be in over his head, but he still didn’t seem to be watching the water.

Great Blue Heron
Great Blue Heron wading around pond – click on photo for larger view

The reflection was perfect from my angle and I wonder if the wading birds see themselves looking back?

Great Egrets in Flight

On a recent trip to the rookery one some work was being done near a nesting area to remove some debris before the birds start their nests. A few Great Egrets treated us to an aerial show as they shifted around while work was in progress.

Great Egret in Flight – Click photo for larger view

The flights provided a variety of shooting opportunities, with various wing poses and backgrounds as the circled around to return to their spots.

Great Egret in Flight
Great Egret in Flight – Click photo for larger view

Coming in for a landing with a squawk:

Great Egret in Flight
Great Egret in Flight – Click photo for larger view

I am amazed by the ability of these huge birds to navigate through branches.

Great Egret Landing

A beautiful blue sky with fluffy clouds completes a classic flying shot.

Great Egret in Flight
Great Egret in Flight – Click photo for larger view

Photographed 4/10/2017, Charleston, SC.

Small, Medium, Large GBH Chicks

Another pair of Great Blue Heron chicks have hatched so I now have three sets of young I can photograph. Look close near the trunk of the tree to see a little fuzz top chick. There is a second one in this nest but they didn’t both pop up at the same time.

Great Blue Heron and few day old chick
Great Blue Heron and few day old chick

The middle sized set are a trio, about a month old.  The adults now leave them on their own for hours at a time. Their nest looks pretty small from my vantage point for all that activity.

Three Great Blue Heron Chicks
Three Great Blue Heron Chicks

The oldest pair, about six weeks old, have been featured in some of my other posts. They still rest a lot when the adults are away but keep a keen eye on the Great Egrets on the next branch.

Great Blue Heron Chicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks

Taken 4/12/2017, Charleston, SC.