Tag Archives: Birds in Flight

Kingfisher DIve

This is the first Belted Kingfisher I have seen since last fall and he gave me an amazing, if brief, aerial show.

Belted Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher

When I first spotted him he was hovering over a small pond. Before I could lift my camera he was gone.

Belted Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher

He came back a couple minutes later and I got a second opportunity.

Belted Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher

He hovered for several seconds.

Belted Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher

Assumed the dive position

Belted Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher

And dove. I never saw him hit the water, actually never saw him again, despite waiting another 15 minutes.

Belted Kingfisher
Belted Kingfisher

Swallow-tailed Kite

With an unmistakable silhouette, the Swallow-tailed Kite is an amazingly skilled flyer. From Cornell’s All About Birds: “Rarely flapping their wings, they soar and make tight turns, rotating their tail to steer.”

These images are cropped quite a bit; I didn’t get any close ups, but if you enlarge the photos you can get a bit more detail.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Guaranteed to make your neck hurt they are very cool to watch.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

While doing all this acrobatic flying they grab flying insects with their feet:

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Then pass the prey to their beak:

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

On this day an approaching storm and boisterous clouds added to the drama of the scene.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Their territory and numbers have dwindled in the US, and are continuously threatened by habitat loss.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Pair

There were several pairs of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks around the edges of a pond, mostly tucked into the vegetation. Neither one of this pair moved a bit after I spotted them.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

From another direction this pair took flight towards another connected pond, showing off more of their striking colors.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Pair in Flight
Black-bellied Whistling-Duck Pair in Flight

Great Blue Heron Chick Test Flight

This Great Blue Heron chick took a test “fly – hop” from the branch above his nest and over his sibling.

Great Blue Heron Chick Test Flight
Great Blue Heron Chick Test Flight

The sibling was less than impressed, but the flyer seemed pretty pleased with himself.

Great Blue Heron Chick Test Flight
Great Blue Heron Chick Test Flight

He liked it so much he climbed back up to the top and flapped his wings in the breeze.

Great Blue Heron Chick Test Wings
Great Blue Heron Chick Test Wings

I didn’t see him lift off again; he was content to watch the world from a higher vantage point.

Great Blue Heron Chick Test Wings
Great Blue Heron Chick Test Wings

Brown Pelicans in Flight

Watching Brown Pelicans fly can be mesmorizing. They often glide in small groups along the shore line, gracefully and with what looks like little effort.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

And with some secret signal they turn in unison.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

These were taken at the end of the day and there wasn’t much light. This last Pelican was by himself and went right over my head, and yes I wear a hat.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

Great Egret Lift Off

I’ve commented before on birds’ desire to occupy the highest point. This applies even if it is just a clump of sticks in the pond. We’ve had a lot of wind lately and small branches and other debris is getting pushed around in the ponds. This Great Egret found an attractive twig collection to drop in on.

Great Egret
Great Egret

Then it started to sink and he took off, straight up into the air.

Great Egret Lift Off
Great Egret Lift Off

One flap of the wings and he was off.

Great Egret Lift Off
Great Egret Lift Off

Banking smoothly left he decided to try another spot.

Great Egret Lift Off
Great Egret Lift Off

Forster’s Tern

After watching the relatively sedate Bonaparte’s Gulls Feeding at the beach a Forster’s Tern came along and showed off some different flying skills.

Forster's Tern Fishing
Forster’s Tern Fishing

It was all about speed.

Forster's Tern Fishing
Forster’s Tern Fishing

Hover, dive and repeat.

Forster's Tern Fishing
Forster’s Tern Fishing

With the rolling waves and lack of contrast I didn’t get a full splash down image.

Forster's Tern Fishing
Forster’s Tern Fishing

Yes, they are fast!

Forster's Tern Fishing
Forster’s Tern Fishing

In between stronger gusts of wind the tern hovered higher over the water as he looked for food.

Forster's Tern Fishing
Forster’s Tern Fishing

Bonaparte’s Gulls Feeding

There is not much contrast in these images of a pair of Bonaparte’s Gulls feeding in the ocean surf. The day was dull and the birds coloration mostly matches the water, with only their black wing-tips and orange feet standing out.

Bonaparte's Gull Pair Feeding
Bonaparte’s Gull Pair Feeding

However, they were fun to watch and gulls are great practice for in-flight bird photography due to their relatively slow speed and predictability.

Bonaparte's Gull Pair Feeding
Bonaparte’s Gull Pair Feeding

It was also windy and this pair was expending a tremendous amount of energy for what was small food. Whatever they were catching they quickly swallowed without me seeing it.

Bonaparte's Gull Pair Feeding
Bonaparte’s Gull Pair Feeding

They dropped in and lifted out of the water with ease and flew in tandem as they moved up the beach.

Bonaparte's Gull Pair Feeding
Bonaparte’s Gull Pair Feeding

Myrtle Beach State Park, SC,  3/17/2019