A few Royal Terns have been coming regularly to one of the old rice field ponds to feed. Terns are extremely skillful flyers and I watched two of them for an entertaining 45 minutes, making loops around the pond and occasionally out over the Ashley River.
The terns were constantly turning their heads and changing direction. When they spot a fish in the water they hover.
They go completely under water.
And if all goes well, come up with a fish!
Up and away!
Interestingly, the two terns then flew together out over the river. They got too far away to tell if the fishless bird was trying to steal the meal or if they were sharing.
There is a touch of fall color in the “skinny tree” which earlier this year hosted one Great Blue Heron and several Great Egret families. Now the tree serves as an occasional landing spot for a passing bird.
This Anhinga chose it as a drying off spot and executed a smooth landing.
He then turned his back to the sun and spread his wings to dry off.
We are seeing more flocks of honking Canada Geese in the sky, a sure sign that fall migrations aren’t far off. These four were part of a flock of about twenty that appeared to be trying to get into formation. They were not successful and ultimately circled noisily back and landed where they started.
A flock of American White Pelicans was standing in a line as the sun came up over this shallow pond. The water was not deep enough for them to dive for fish so I was expecting them to take off any minute to look for breakfast.
I positioned myself to hopefully catch them taking off. Instead, they quietly preened as a few Roseate Spoonbills and Wood Storks did the same.
They moved very little in the 90 minutes I was at this pond. Unfortunately they didn’t like it so much that they had repeated this routine when I returned a few days later.
Alligators follow their instincts when they hear a splash in the water…lets go check it out.
An Anhinga had jumped into the pond and was swimming with his head up. First one then two Alligators were in hot pursuit.
I was too far away to really see what was happening. In fact I probably shouldn’t have bothered with these images with the glare on the water, but it was like watching a train wreck. I’m not sure if this churning of the water was the two Alligators having a spat or if the bird had ducked under and the gators lunged.
The Alligators backed away a bit then the Anhinga popped up between them then leisurely swam along as if he were alone. A minute or two later they all lost interest and went their separate ways.
On two recent afternoons several Anhingas gathered in this Cypress Tree on one of the rookery islands.
There were at least five Anhinga nests on the island this spring, and probably more that I couldn’t see based on the activity. The two lower birds in the next image may be young from one of those nests.
A Little Blue Heron and two juvenile Great Blue Herons can also be seen in the wider view. Those two GBH had not fledged yet but sure were curious about the flights of other birds.
A few Canada Geese were making their presence known with some squawking and flapping. This one skidding across the pond was taking issue with something. Several pairs had young in the area and others, along with some ducks, were just hanging around seemingly minding their own business. But who knows how a goose feels about that?