Common Gallinule

I hear Common Gallinules more often than see them. Per All About Birds they “make all sorts of chicken-like clucks, whinnies, cackles, squawks, and yelps.” Needless to say, many a birder has jumped when that racket starts, often accompanied by one or more Gallinules running across the water to safety.  I often refer to them as the early warning system for other ducks and wildlife I might have been hoping to see.

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule

These images were taken on different days, but in the same area. The stump in the image above is newly sticking out of the water as the rice field pond has been drained for repairs.

The red bill in the image below looks almost like fake plastic, but that is how they look. Bald Eagles will stalk Gallinules in this pond and I wonder how that beacon of red appears to them.

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule

Tricolored Heron and Aligator

The majority of the water has been let out of one of the rice field ponds at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens in advance of some repairs to be made on the back dike. This has left a mud flat that is very attractive to the wading birds.

Tricolored Heron and Alligator
Tricolored Heron and Alligator

From a distance I thought the other creature was a stick but I could clearly see the eyes of a small Alligator as I got closer.

Tricolored Heron and Alligator
Tricolored Heron and Alligator

The last image is focused on the Alligator, that was content to hold that spot while the Tricolored Heron hunted behind him.

Tricolored Heron and Alligator
Tricolored Heron and Alligator

Double-crested Cormorants

A flock of Double-crested Cormorants was hanging out on a dead tree that has fallen into a pond on a recent sunny afternoon. When I first spotted them my view of the group was blocked by reeds, but this one had found a higher perch.

Double-crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant

As I worked my way along the bank I saw these two were having a squabble.

Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorants

One exited with a big flap while the rest ignored him. You can see the bird from my first image near the top, towards the left.

Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorants

As I rounded the end of the pond I was able to get a view from a different angle and closer to the water.

Double-crested Cormorants
Double-crested Cormorants

Working for Their Supper

Middleton Place has a flock of sheep that roam the main grounds keeping them manicured. Weighted gates that close automatically behind the tourists allow foot traffic into the central green of the plantation and keep the sheep from escaping.

The sheep are looking scraggly as we head into winter; they will be shorn in the spring after lambs are born.

Grazing Sheep
Grazing Sheep

Belgian Horses are another heritage breed raised at Middleton Place. They provide carriage rides for visitors around the plantation grounds and are ignored by the sheep as they graze.

Grazing Sheep and a Belgian Horse
Grazing Sheep and a Belgian Horse

Middleton Place 
“A National Historic Landmark, home to the oldest landscaped gardens in America and an enduring, vibrant, and essential part of the Charleston and American experience.”

Juvenile Bald Eagle

I spotted this juvenile Bald Eagle circling the rice field pond a couple of times,  then he put his feet down. I thought I was going to capture a landing.

Juvenile Bald Eagle
Juvenile Bald Eagle Coming in for Landing

He changed his mind! A pair of adult Eagles use this area daily, and generally the juveniles are not welcome to share. I waited and watched thinking maybe one of them was approaching. If so, I did not spot it.

Juvenile Bald Eagle
Juvenile Bald Eagle

Junior circled the pond one more time then landed in a pine tree further down the edge of the pond. If I hadn’t seen him land I wouldn’t have known he was there. He stayed put for longer than I stood waiting for him to make another move.

Juvenile Bald Eagle
Juvenile Bald Eagle

Great Egret, Corner of the Pond

These wooden posts are leftovers from an old dock or walkway at the edge of a rice field pond and the wading birds often perch on them.

Great Egret on a Post
Great Egret on a Post

The Great Egret was standing still so a slower shutter speed allowed me to capture some images even though the sun had dipped below the tree line and there wasn’t much light in this end of the pond.

Great Egret on a Post
Great Egret on a Post

Looking in the opposite direction an Alligator was swimming towards a spot to settle for the night.

Looking over the pond, Alligator near Sunset
Looking over the pond, Alligator near Sunset