The turtles are the most likely to be seen sharing space with other creatures around the swamp and ponds. They crave the sun just like the alligators on this reptile ramp and don’t show any fear in the presence of an alligator that could easily eat them.
Wading birds like this Great Egret like a sunny spot, too, and easily find a spot in between the turtles on a nearby ramp.
I don’t know what this “foot in the air” display from the turtle just to the right of the egret is all about, but a little further along in another small pond I saw it again, with both hind feet straight out.
We see much of the Great Blue Heron nesting and flying action that we witness from the path that runs through the trees on this end of the pond. The pond is a man-made, roughly a rectangle, with a paved path that runs along three sides.
The portrait oriented photo above gives a better sense of the height of the trees, but doesn’t show the width of the pond the way the landscape oriented image does, below (click on image for larger view).
Many of the borders of family plots in older sections of Charleston’s Magnolia Cemetery are marked by decorative metal fences. The styles are as varied as the families must have been and all are in some state of decay.
This fence with a Lyre and Star motif is particularly intricate. Sadly a large chunk of it is gone.
The cemetery is dotted with centuries old Live Oaks and giant Magnolias that take a toll on the fences and stone work below with every big storm that passes over Charleston.
From the cemetery’s website:
Magnolia Cemetery first opened in 1850. It is on the land of a former rice plantation. The property was designed during a new rural cemetery movement that crossed from Europe to America in the mid-19th century. With lovingly landscaped paths and ponds, trees and green space, Charlestonians would come to Magnolia to picnic and play, as well as visit lost loved ones.
Aside from status, the fences may have been a way to protect a wealthy family’s plot from the picnickers. The cemetery occupies over 130 acres at the edge of a marsh on the Cooper river and it remains a beautiful spot to visit.
I call it the “skinny tree” because there isn’t much to it. It is not completely dead, but not far from it. I’ve taken hundreds of photographs of various birds in this tree, which sits in water about 60 feet / 20 meters (as measured using Google Maps) from the edge of the pond.
As mating and nesting season has gotten under way last year’s nest, which was used by a Great Blue Heron family and the one below it used by Great Egrets, are completely gone.
This week I’ve seen a couple of Great Blues come to this spot and steal a few loose twigs left behind after late summer storms took the rest.
If there is going to be a nest here this season there is a lot of work to be done. This Heron may be holding the spot while her mate is off finding foundation branches or she may be surveying the pond for a better potential home. We are about to have some cooler weather with the next ten nights going below freezing. This might put a damper on the whole nesting business.
This is another bird that flew in right over my head while I was watching the Great Blue Herons work on their nests. I’m pretty sure it is a Pine Warbler, but there are a number of similar yellow warblers making my ID iffy.
He landed on a strand of hanging Spanish Moss and gave it a couple of pokes.
Not finding anything, he flitted a little further from me,
My view wasn’t as good but he treated me to an acrobatic display.
Without any fuss this Pileated Woodpecker flew into a tree above my head as a few folks were gathered to watch the Great Blue Herons nesting. His “do” would suggest he might be shocked, too.
Photographing birds over your head is not the ideal situation and perhaps not the best view of the bird but this angle shows off his impressive beak.
He didn’t do any drilling or even poke around the tree, just sat there for about five minutes. The few tourists passing underneath him didn’t capture his attention. There were a few Red Shouldered Hawks patrolling the area behind us and maybe he was hiding. He left as quick as he came with no noise, back the way he had come.