This possibly is a female Hooded Merganser. I didn’t see her in the water and don’t see them often enough to really know. The Merlin app suggested an Anhinga, which it clearly is not. That was the first time I’ve had that app be way off base.
There was a small flock of Mergansers milling around in a an adjacent pond, in water that took on an odd color reflection.
Dolphin can be hard to spot from shore until they break the surface but this Bonaparte’s Gull served as a great marker for me. You can just make out the young Dolphin below and to the left of the bird.
With an idea where the animal is there is some chance of capturing an image of him above the water, like this:
I had the pleasure of speaking with Lauren Rust, founder of The Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network (www.lmmn.org), while I was watching the Dolphins in the Kiawah River on March 18. She spends a lot of time monitoring the local Dolphin and shared with me that this behavior goes on regularly and she has wondered if it is the same few Gulls who have figured this out. The Dolphin is a two year old who still stays pretty close to its mother, who was feeding nearby.
These two had developed an understanding. and if you zoom in on the next image you’ll see the Gull got a fish just as the Dolphin ducked under the water.
It appeared that the Bonaparte’s Gull was following the Dolphin, which presumably was following fish.
Lastly, a wider view of the unlikely pair, taken on the Kiawah side of the river, looking towards Seabrook Island.
Conditions shaped up nicely on Wednesday to head to Beachwalker Park on Kiawah Island to observe Dolphins feeding. Timing was good, with low tide about 10:30am. Strand feeding, the method peculiar to this area of South Carolina’s coast where Dolphin drive fish to the shore, tends to happen two hours either side of the low tide.
For a couple of hours the light was good and I was pleased to get this sequence, which was much less vigorous than previous times I’ve witnessed this behavior. The Dolphin seemed to be lolling around in the shallow water, not zooming full speed ahead.
Other times I’ve seen this as a cooperative effort but this Dolphin was on her own.
My position and the shape of the sand bank cut off some of the action.
I got a little closer before the Dolphin flipped around and caught a fish.
Once again I was amazed the power of these animals which is evident in the splash of water and waves that rushed to shore.
It turns out that it was a good thing I went Wednesday. As of today all of the area beaches are closed due to Covid-19 concerns.
I wasn’t that surprised to spot this juvenile Armadillo as Ted had just seen an adult in the nearby woods. I was surprised that he didn’t run or jump. He didn’t even seem to know or care that I was there. Not that I was making that much noise but wild things tend to know we are there way before we know they are.
I watched him as he industriously rooted around in the soft ground hoping to get a full body view. The pine cone in the next image was of standard size, maybe six or seven inches (15 – 20 cm), giving a sense of his size.
Armadillos have poor eyesight and this little one never lifted his head to have a look around, just kept on digging and rooting for lunch.