Sunday morning we saw at least seven Bald Eagles between two wildlife management areas we visited. I’m always in awe when I see one; their size and regal bearing when they sit is impressive and their flight skills are extraordinary.
This first one was likely watching the sunrise with us. We were hoping he was going to fish for breakfast in the pond in front of us, but after a half hour of waiting we moved on with him still sitting right there.
This utility pole sits at one end of the Bennets Point Road bridge over the Ashepoo River. From this vantage point the Eagle can see a vast area of river and marshland stretching at least a mile (1.6 KM) east and west.
As we approached the turnaround on one of the dikes in the wildlife management area we were visiting a juvenile Black Vulture stood in the middle of the road. Unfortunately he showed no fear of our car or us and only hopped along a few feet.
Ted finally got out of the car to gently urge him out of the driveway and he flapped/hopped up onto the gate, allowing me to turn the car without worrying about hitting him.
His still fuzzy head and hopping rather than flying identifies him as a juvenile. We walked around the opposite end of the gate and went on our way.
When we returned twenty minutes later he had relocated to the other end of the gate.
Quite regal looking, he ignored us as we passed back by and I saw him still there in the rear-view mirror as we drove away.
A pair of Barred Owls frequents the pond near this stand of bamboo looking for food. This owl had just had an unsuccessful attempt to catch a noisy bullfrog.
The bullfrog stopped his song but the owl flew away with nothing in his talons. The owl chose a spot with a good view of the pond to watch and listen for his next opportunity.
Native bamboo was grown on the plantations in South Carolina to create natural barriers to help keep livestock in and keep predators out. Today it makes a beautiful addition to some of the area gardens and museum properties.
We visited Beidler Forest last week with out of town guests. We were all delighted to see a Barred Owl shortly after leaving the visitor center and quite close to the board walk. The owl impressed the guests with a head swiveling demo but opted not to go fishing while we were watching.
As part of the Yellow-billed Kite flying demonstration the handler tosses pieces of raw meat into the air to simulate a bug and the Kite catches them on the fly. I didn’t get a decent picture of that action, but in the sequence below the bird missed and immediately dropped to the ground to find the food.
The demonstration field was covered in little yellow flowers, a pretty background for this brown bird.
He sauntered around a bit for taking to the sky again.
After his posing session at the Center for Birds of Prey Photography Day this Yellow-billed Kite had an opportunity to fly.
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.
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, 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.
A Barred Owl pair with two fledged owlets has been seen regularly from the boardwalk at Beidler Forest. We spotted just this one youngster taking short flights in the limbs above us.
The owlet was curious about the humans passing on the boardwalk below him, not bothered by our presence. A school group of about twenty-five kids and chaperones had just passed and a few of their stragglers stopped with us to watch the chick.