Tag Archives: Birds in Flight

Black Skimmer Skimming

This Black Skimmer gave me a good show with the early morning sun highlighting his black and orange beak, in contrast to last week’s pair that I photographed in poor light.

Black Skimmer in Flight
Black Skimmer in Flight, wings low to the water

I had a great view and was able to track his path as he crossed the pond with his lower jaw in the water.

Black Skimmer in Flight
Black Skimmer in Flight

He finally lifted, before making a big turn for another pass.

Black Skimmer in Flight
Black Skimmer in Flight

Click on any image for a closer view.

Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, SC, 7/1/2018.

Black Skimmer Pair

These Black Skimmers chose to do their skimming in the pond between me and the sun, rather than the prettier marsh on the other side of the dike where the light was beautiful.

Black Skimmer Pair
Black Skimmer Pair

The light here doesn’t do justice to their gorgeous orange beaks, but you can see how elegantly Skimmers fly and hunt. When in pairs the almost always fly with their wing beats synchronized.

Black Skimmer Pair
Black Skimmer Pair with fish jumping

Swooping around a small island the pair pulled tight together before turning for another long run.

Black Skimmer Pair
Black Skimmer Pair

Then they disappeared down an inlet, not to return while I was in the area.

Black Skimmer Pair
Black Skimmer Pair

Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, SC, 6/27/2018.

Where Did Everyone Go?

A group of nine Wood Ducks were hanging out on an Alligator Ramp, preening and enjoying the late afternoon sun late last week.

Wood Ducks on Ramp
Wood Ducks on Ramp

Nothing in particular seemed to have startled them, but by twos and threes they flew off.

Wood Ducks on Ramp
Wood Ducks Flying Away from Ramp

As the ducks shifted around some flashes of blue were evident. Some of the adult males have lost their full breeding colors and the juvenile males are starting to show some color.

Wood Ducks Flying
Wood Ducks Flying

One juvenile was left by herself, pacing up and down. She finally decided joining the pack was the right thing to do.

Wood Duck Left Alone
Wood Duck Left Alone

Gang Way: Black Skimmer Coming Through

The tide was almost low and the shallow inlet water was attracting a number of shore birds looking for a meal, including a few Black Skimmers. My view wasn’t great and some tall grass partially obstructed the action, but watching these gorgeous birds skim for food is fascinating.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer headed toward Tricolored Heron

The flying gull and wading Tricolored Heron paid no head to the speeding Skimmer.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer, Gull and Tricolored Heron

The Skimmer made a practiced move of a quick look underneath and behind.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer and Tricolored Heron

The Tricolored Heron was not giving up his spot.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer and Tricolored Heron

Gracefully the Skimmer banked, skirted the heron and headed across the inlet.

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer and Tricolored Heron, Second Skimmer coming in

Click any image for a closer view.

Great Blue Heron with Flounder

It was “this big!” Really!

Great Blue Heron with Flounder
Great Blue Heron with Flounder

I don’t know how far he had flown with the flounder, but after landing the heron just stood there for a minute looking around. He then waded out into the water and rinsed the fish.

Great Blue Heron with Flounder
Great Blue Heron Rinsing Flounder

Satisfied with that, he flew into a marsh inlet with his catch, probably hoping to avoid potential fish thieves.

Great Blue Heron Flying with Flounder
Great Blue Heron Flying with Flounder

Flying Up The Ashley

A Great Egret was flying up the Ashley River, about 90 minutes before high tide.

Great Egret Flying Over Ashley River
Great Egret Flying Over Ashley River

The water just perceptibly flowing downstream; you might think it was a pond if you just saw this scene and had no other context.

Great Egret Flying Over Ashley River
Great Egret Flying Over Ashley River

The Egret went slowly on by, gracefully headed to an unknown destination upstream.

Great Egret Flying Over Ashley River
Great Egret Flying Over Ashley River

The Ashley is tidal most of the way to its origins in the swamps of western Berkeley County.

Yellow-billed Kite: In the Air

After his posing session at the Center for Birds of Prey Photography Day this Yellow-billed Kite had an opportunity to fly.

Yellow-billed Kite Flying
Yellow-billed Kite Flying with radio transmitter attached

Kites catch thier prey, mostly insects, by snatching from the air with their feet. This requires a lot of swooping and circling to get higher off the ground.

Yellow-billed Kite Flying
Yellow-billed Kite Flying

The Center’s birds are fed and according to the handler will not seek out food during flying demonstrations, returning to the handler for the reward of food. This particular Kite seemed to enjoy his time in the air, circling around the demonstration field over the row of photographers several times.

Yellow-billed Kite Flying
Yellow-billed Kite Flying

Yellow-billed Kite, Milvus aegyptius

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.

I Can Fly

I’d been watching the nest with three Great Blue Heron chicks off and on for a half hour and one of the chicks was getting more adventurous.

Great Blue Heron Chicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks

The other two were content with their wingercizing but this one was thinking about the big one.

Great Blue Heron Chicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks

The other two looked on curiously, but were not interested in joining in.

Great Blue Heron Chicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks

I looked away to check out some Anhinga chick squawking and it had happened! I couldn’t spot him at first, expecting that he’d have gone to the right. Instead he had flapped up to a branch about 15 feet away.

This got his siblings’ attention and they gave him the once over when he returned to the nest a few minutes later.

Great Blue Heron Chicks
Great Blue Heron Chicks

Snowy Egrets Synchronized Flying

And the chase was on. It was hard to tell who was who. These two Snowy Egrets were trying to impress a prospective mate.

Snowy Egrets
Snowy Egrets

The flying skill was quite impressive.

Their feet and bills have turned from yellow to orange for mating season.

Snowy Egrets
Snowy Egrets

Where this duo finally landed was a bit far for a good shot, but there was no mistaking the mating dance.

Snowy Egrets
Snowy Egrets

The Great Egret sitting on her nest was unperturbed by all this activity and a third Snowy Egret tucked himself out of the way.

Snowy Egrets
Snowy Egrets

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.