I returned to Beidler Forrest one morning this week hoping for another opportunity to see a Prothonotary Warbler or two. I did hear a few high in the tree tops but mostly they eluded me. The promised sun did not materialize, keeping the forest dark.
I did capture this one as it was returning to its nest, which the center staff pointed me to. The nest is down inside that Cypress knee. After a moment the adult dropped into the nest and stayed put for at least the next twenty minutes, likely laying on eggs.
The light was low and it was raining off and on as we made our way around the board walk over the swamp at Beidler Forest, a property managed by Audubon South Carolina. I heard a warbler calling way before I saw this bird and his mouthful of bugs.
I was quite surprised he was so close to the boardwalk. He moved to different branches a few times, keeping a tight grip on his bug collection. After a couple minutes he flew out of my sight.
Further on I spotted another Prothonotary Warbler bringing food to a nest in a Cypress Knee. It was even darker then and rain was about to fall in earnest. The image is not great but you can get an idea of where these warblers rear their young.
Both of these birds were banded, part of a research project to study their migration.
Beidler is the world’s largest virgin cypress-tupelo swamp forest — a pristine ecosystem untouched for millennia.
Audubon South Carolina
The Prothonotary Warblers won’t be in our area long so I spent some time around the edges of the swamp looking for them earlier this week. They are fast in flight, like tree tops, and don’t stay in one place for long, making them a challenge to track and to photograph.
This one must have liked the sun or the view because he stayed in this lichen covered branch for several minutes.
In the inner branches is usually where that flash of yellow streaks by.