Category Archives: Water Birds

Tern: Working His Water Exit

Royal Tern, wings out of the water:

Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water
Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water

One strong down wing beat:

Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water
Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water

Pulling up out of the water:

Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water
Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water

A second strong down wing beat:

Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water
Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water

The fish catch held in his beak is sticking out on either side of the tern’s body:

Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water
Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water

A third beat of the wings and tern is fully away from the water with his lunch flapping:

Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water
Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water

This series was over in two seconds.

Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water
Royal Tern Lifting Out of Water

Tern: Will Turn for Food

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.

Royal Tern Hovering
Royal Tern Hovering

The terns were constantly turning their heads and changing direction. When they spot a fish in the water they hover.

Royal Tern Hovering
Royal Tern Hovering

Then dive!

Royal Tern Diving
Royal Tern Diving

They go completely under water.

Tern Under Water
Tern Under Water

And if all goes well, come up with a fish!

Royal Tern with Fish
Royal Tern with Fish

Up and away!

Royal Tern with Fish
Royal Tern with Fish

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.

Fall Colors

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.

Anhinga Drying in Sun
Anhinga Drying in Sun

This Anhinga chose it as a drying off spot and executed a smooth landing.

Anhinga Drying in Sun
Anhinga Drying in Sun

He then turned his back to the sun and spread his wings to dry off.

Anhinga Drying in Sun
Anhinga Drying in Sun

Black Skimmer

I love watching Black Skimmers doing what their name implies. Their flying skills are extraordinary, including not needing to watch where they are going when they plunge their heads into the water.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer

Very agile, a slight tip of the wings is all they need to change direction or speed.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer

I didn’t see a fish, but sometimes they pull up just a bit to swallow something they’ve caught before continuing to skim the water.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer

Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, SC, July 15, 2018.

Good Morning Pelicans

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.

White Pelicans
White Pelicans

I positioned myself to hopefully catch them taking off. Instead, they quietly preened as a few Roseate Spoonbills and Wood Storks did the same.

White Pelicans
White Pelicans

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.

White Pelicans
White Pelicans

Do Birds Play Chicken?

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.

Alligator and Anhinga
Two Alligators

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.

Alligator and Anhinga
Alligator with eyes reflecting in the water

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.

Alligator and Anhinga
Alligator and Anhinga

Click on images for larger view. 

Tree Anhingas

On two recent afternoons several Anhingas gathered in this Cypress Tree on one of the rookery islands.

Anhinga
Anhingas in Cypress Tree

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.

Anhinga
Anhingas in Cypress Tree

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.

Anhinga
Anhingas in Cypress Tree