Tag Archives: Birds in Flight

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.

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

American Avocets Don’t Want to Be Lunch

On a recent visit to Bear Island Wildlife Management area a few small flocks of American Avocets were feeding in some of the shallow impoundments. The one on the left below with the pretty brown head is displaying breeding colors while the white one on the right is non-breeding.

American Avocets
American Avocets

Several Bald Eagles are nesting in the area and one had just had an unsuccessful dive at the other end of this impoundment. When the Eagle soared over the Avocets took off in a panic.

American Avocets
American Avocets

Once in the air they tried to group together.

American Avocets
American Avocets in flight

The Eagle didn’t pursue them but they didn’t wait around to find out.

American Avocets
American Avocets in flight

Click on any photo for larger view.

Red-shouldered Hawk Lunching, Part 2

This is the tree the Red-shouldered Hawk first chose when he first left the open area with his frog lunch. He was much more protected than on the ground but I could tell he was still uneasy as at least two other Hawks were calling nearby.

Red-shouldered Hawk With Frog
Red-shouldered Hawk, frog parts can be seen hanging below the limb

He took to the air again and I thought I had seen the last of him. I turned the other way back towards the end of the pond to watch the herons and heard a kerfuffle of wings and squawking off to my right.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk

I’m not quite sure what happened next as my view was obstructed, but soon the Hawk with the frog changed direction again. You can see a third Hawk in the tree in the background between the tail and wing of Hawk One below.

Red-shouldered Hawk Flying With Frog
Red-shouldered Hawk Flying With Frog – click image for larger view

He went on his way without being followed and presumably finished the frog in peace.