Category Archives: Water Birds

Brown Pelican Show-off

I can’t help but smile when I see a Brown Pelican, they are just goofy looking birds.

Brown Pelicans on Dock
Brown Pelicans on Dock

Then, they do something even goofier looking.

Brown Pelicans on Dock
Brown Pelicans on Dock

South Carolina’s coastal bays and rivers are full of entertainment.

Brown Pelicans on Dock
Brown Pelicans, a Cormorant, a few gulls and terns on Dock

Open wide!

Brown Pelicans on Dock
Brown Pelicans, a Cormorant, a few gulls and terns on Dock

Story River, from a boat, September 13, 2019

Brown Pelican Showing Off His Feet

Brown Pelicans are fascinating to watch in flight, so graceful yet so prehistoric looking.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

I thought this one was going to land and try to catch a fish. He dropped his feet.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

But then he tucked them in as he glided over a school of jumping fish.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

Fooled me again.

Brown Pelicans eat by either diving into the water and scooping food into their beak/pouch or sometimes by bobbing on the water and snatching up a fish, not by picking it up with their feet–I’m not sure what he was up to here.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

Then it was landing gear up and away he went down the river, no lunch.

Brown Pelican Fly By
Brown Pelican Fly By

Anhinga in Pine Tree

Just after the Juvenile Little Blue Heron flew off I realized he wasn’t alone in the trees above me.

Anhinga Overhead
Anhinga Overhead

This Anhinga was having a look around.

Anhinga Overhead
Anhinga Overhead

These views from underneath show off how sharp the Anhinga’s bill is, perfectly shaped for the way they spear fish under water.

Anhinga Overhead
Anhinga Overhead

After I passed by I turned for another image and a look at those amazing webbed feet, which you can see better if you zoom in.

Anhinga Overhead
Anhinga Overhead

Bird Rookery

The rookery islands do not rise much above sea level which is one of the reasons the Brown Pelican nests have a low success rate. Over wash from storm driven tides can and has easily wiped out whole colonies on this and other barrier islands.

Bird Rookery
Bird Rookery

The bird chaos was amazing with numerous species in addition to the Brown Pelicans using the island. Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, and Laughing Gulls were well represented.

Bird Rookery
Bird Rookery

This view is the sea-ward end of the island, with the shore crowded with Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls. The island down to the low tide mark is a protected preserve.

Bird Rookery
Bird Rookery, Sign: “Island Closed – Do Not Come Ashore”

Shore access is not allowed during nesting season; these images were all taken from a boat at a shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second to help compensate for the boat movement.

See my previous post Brown Pelican Chicks for a closer look at five chicks.

Brown Pelican Chicks

Brown Pelicans nest on several islands that are really not much more than sand bars off the Charleston, SC coast. Storms and the tides shift the availability and viability of nesting sites from year to year. I had the privileged to observe one of these sites this morning, where the Pelican chicks are out of their nests but not yet flying or getting their own food.

This particular island was re-nourished with sand dredged from the Folly River last year with spectacular results for this year’s nesting Pelicans.

Brown Pelican Chicks
Brown Pelican Chicks

Shore access is not allowed during nesting season; these images were all taken from a boat at a shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second to help compensate for the boat movement.

Brown Pelican Chicks
Brown Pelican Chicks, Laughing Gulls looking on

It was a delightful outing and seeing these Pelican chicks was a real treat. This appears to be two sets of chicks, with the younger group testing out their bills in the water.

Brown Pelican Chicks
Brown Pelican Chicks

Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet

One Black Australian Swan pair had a single cygnet on my recent visit to Swan Lake and Iris Gardens.

 Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet
Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet

The youngster was all about practicing his swimming skills.

 Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet
Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet

He didn’t get too far from the parents, who were quick to catch up with him if he paddled off.

 Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet
Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet

Just a little ball of fluff, he exhibited no concern about forging ahead.

 Black Australian Swan Cygnet
Black Australian Swan Cygnet

Owned and operated by the City of Sumter, SC, Swan Lake Iris Gardens is home to all eight known species of swan.

New Anhinga Chick

A few wading bird pairs are just now hatching young even as some of the older chicks have fledged. I saw just one tiny chick underneath this female nesting Anhinga–you can just see the head at the lower left of the adult. Some of the other broods this year have had four chicks.

Female Anhinga and Chick
Female Anhinga and new Chick, Older chick behind

There may be more to come in this nest as the eggs may hatch over several days.

Female Anhinga and Chick
Female Anhinga and Chick

Anhingas feed their young by regurgitating food which the chicks actively retrieve by sticking their heads up the parent’s esophagus. Painful looking, especially when the chicks get bigger.

Female Anhinga and Chick
Female Anhinga and Chick – Feeding Time

Click on images for larger view.