Anhinga Drying Off

Anhingas often climb into trees with branches that hang over the pond for drying off. I’ve more frequently seen them down close to the water but this one was over my head giving an interesting view of his very long body.

Anhinga
Anhinga

From this view you can the sharpness of the beak, clearly adapted to spearing fish.

Anhinga
Anhinga

They are often vocal, making a low croaking sound, likened to a frog with a soar throat by Cornell’s All About Birds.

Anhinga
Anhinga

Lanner Falcon

The first bird for the Birds of Prey photography day on Sunday was a Lanner Falcon. A native of Africa and southeast Europe they are often used in falconry.

Lanner-Falcon
Lanner-Falcon

It was a bit breezy and the falcon faced into the wind with his wings up after jumping onto the perch, showing off his well-feathered legs.

Lanner-Falcon
Lanner-Falcon

In the full side view after he settled you can see the beautiful grey coloration of his body feathers.

Lanner-Falcon
Lanner-Falcon – full side view

The head markings are quite distinctive.

Lanner-Falcon
Lanner-Falcon

Close up profile shot.

Lanner-Falcon
Lanner-Falcon

Lanner Falcon, Falco biarmicus

The Center for Birds of Prey offers photographers an opportunity to take close-up photographs of owls and other birds of prey a few times a year.

The Center for Birds of Prey, Photography Day, April 22, 2018,  Awanda, SC.

 

Grackle with a Snack

I spotted this shimmery Grackle not far from those I saw earlier in the month poking in the water. This one had caught a dragonfly and was attempting to dunk it in the pond.

Grackle with Dragonfly
Grackle with Dragonfly

He jumped closer to the water and bent down a few times but didn’t seem satisfied.

Grackle with Dragonfly
Grackle with Dragonfly

As sometimes happens, I got distracted by other activity around the pond and didn’t see if he had success or just flew off.

Grackle with Dragonfly
Grackle with Dragonfly

Barn Owl

Excellent eye sight and hearing make the Barn Owl top-notch night time hunters. They have been the subject of numerous studies of their senses, including experiments where the readily locate mice in a room with no light.

Barn Owl
Barn Owl

The Barn Owl’s speckled earth tone feathers help it hide during the day, and make it a striking bird to my eye.

Barn Owl
Barn Owl

Showing off his wings with a stretch, this fellow was quite sedate for his photography session.

Barn Owl Stretching His Wings
Barn Owl Stretching His Wings

Barn Owl, Tyto alba

The Center for Birds of Prey offers photographers an opportunity to take close-up photographs of owls and other birds of prey a few times a year.

The Center for Birds of Prey, Photography Day, April 22, 2018,  Awanda, SC.

Bringing Home the Fish: Oops!

Usually Anhinga eat the fish they catch while they are swimming, often executing some intricate fish flipping maneuvers to get the fish in position to swallow head first.  Occasionally, I have seen them get out of the water and beat the fish for awhile, although I’m not sure why. The fish looks dead with that sharp beak speared through it. Sometimes it appears the fish is stuck and at this time of year they may be on their way to the nest with it. No matter the reason, it is an activity that comes with risk.

Anhinga Swimming with Fish
Anhinga Swimming with Fish

This Anhinga swam thirty or forty feet to reach an alligator platform, then flapped and pulled himself out of the water.

Anhinga with Fish
Anhinga with Fish

Wack, wack, wack the fish.

Anhinga Wacking Fish
Anhinga Wacking Fish

Toss it into position.

Anhinga Tossing Fish
Anhinga Tossing Fish

Over the side it went, never to be seen by this bird again.

Where's My Fish?
Where’s My Fish?

 

Savigny’s Eagle Owl

I spent Earth Day photographing birds of prey at an avian conservation center. This opportunity is part of the center’s education mission, along with research, conservation and providing medical care to injured raptors and large shore birds.

Savigny's Eagle Owl
Savigny’s Eagle Owl

The first owl we photographed was a Savigny’s Eagle Owl, a native of much of northern Africa and the Arabian peninsula.

Savigny's Eagle Owl
Savigny’s Eagle Owl

The variable brown coloring is a camouflage asset in its home desert regions.

Savigny's Eagle Owl
Savigny’s Eagle Owl – profile

Savigny’s Eagle Owl, Bubo ascalaphus

The Center for Birds of Prey offers photographers an opportunity to take close-up photographs of owls and other birds of prey a few times a year.

The Center for Birds of Prey, Photography Day, April 22, 2018,  Awanda, SC.

Two Against One

The Cormorant was swimming low in the water with his catch, probably a crab based on the parts you can see sticking out in a couple of the images.

Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull
Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull

Alas, a Laughing Gull spotted him and dropped in for a closer look.

Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull
Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull

The Cormarant dodged the gull and kept his prize.

Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull
Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull

The gull rose up a for another try.

Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull
Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull

Attracted by the activity a second gull joined in the harrassment.

Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gulls
Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gulls

The Cormarant dodged the interlopers and swallowed his lunch before the gulls re-grouped.

Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull
Cormorant Dive-bombed by Laughing Gull

Click on any photo for a larger view of the action.

Bringing Home the Fish

Anhingas fish by swimming underwater and spearing their prey. They then need to air dry and are often seen with their wings fully spread. This one must have young to feed as he bypassed the usual process.

Anhinga with Fish
Anhinga with Fish

After he pulled himself out of the water, he took very little time to dry. He held the fish in his beak and worked his way up the stick.

Anhinga with Fish
Anhinga with Fish

Once airborne he had to really work it to get to the island about 50 feet (16 meters) away. I wasn’t sure he was going to make it; twice his wings dipped into the water.

Anhinga with Fish
Anhinga with Fish

He did make it, and disappeared into the island underbrush with his catch.

Black-crowned Night-Heron Stick Gathering

Back and forth from the rookery island to the shore of the pond this Black-crowned Night-Heron diligently brought sticks for his nest.

Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron

Once in the shrubs he took his time, with a lot of inspecting going on before the actual stick selection.

Black-crowned Night-Heronlack-crowned Night-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron

Sometimes the selection was a live branch, snapped off with that powerful beak. This one was substantially sized, complete with green leaves for padding.

Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron

Iris Reflection

Falling into the swamp lined with duck weed this stem of purple Iris created a colorful reflection.

Purple Iris
Purple Iris

Depending on where I stood the water either reflected the sky or the green fronds of the standing patch of iris.

Purple Iris Patch
Purple Iris Patch

A closer look at the stem reveals flowers in various stages of bloom.

Purple Iris
Purple Iris

This last image was taken about an hour later from about the same spot as the first one above, with the sun no longer directly on the flower.

Purple Iris
Purple Iris