A Yellowlegs was picking his way through some marsh stubble on a recent grey morning.
It was late afternoon and windy at the beach when I spotted a Willet hunting in a tidal pool.
Often these shore birds go back and forth in the same pool, probing around the edges for food.
This time the wind kept him moving further down the beach.
He was having success at finding some snacks.
Gulls and terns were snagging lunch out of the pond and flying off to eat it on a recent gorgeous blue-skyed day.
The gulls will try to steal another bird’s catch so a successful hunter will quickly move on to a safer spot to eat.
Most of the catching was on the other side of the pond, swooping away from me.
This tern opted to fly low with his catch.
While a gull took off higher before disappearing over the marsh.
August 4, 2020
Further along in my walk after photographing The Amazing Hover, 1 I spotted another hunting Least Tern.
It was interesting to see the bird from a head-on angle, and how his wings worked.
He moved very little, hovering in place. I had no trouble staying focused on his position.
And I got the start of a dive. Unfortunately my view of the surface was obstructed and I missed the splash and couldn’t tell if he caught a fish.
In an amazing display of flight skill I watched this Least Tern hover in place for at least 30 seconds.
He was about 25-30 feet (8-9 Meters) above a pond and I was hoping to capture the dive.
But it never happened; after all this work he flew further down the pond to try again.
This Greater Yellowlegs was working a shallow pond.
He was quick.
His selection might have been a bit too big.
Rearrange it, then swallow.
Let’s look for more.
I’m going with the Merlin Bird ID suggestion that this is the Greater Yellowlegs, not the Lesser Yellowlegs. The distinction is in a comparison of their beak size to their head size: the Greater YL’s beak is 1.5 times the size of his head, with the Lesser YL’s beak being much shorter.
April 25, 2019
Sanderlings are known for being “wave chasers,” probing into the sand at the ocean’s edge. This fellow was running down the river’s edge just after low tide when the water was hardly moving.
What, am I in the wrong place?
No matter, he continued on his way, full speed ahead.
Or Follow The Food
Dolphin can be hard to spot from shore until they break the surface but this Bonaparte’s Gull served as a great marker for me. You can just make out the young Dolphin below and to the left of the bird.
With an idea where the animal is there is some chance of capturing an image of him above the water, like this:
I had the pleasure of speaking with Lauren Rust, founder of The Lowcountry Marine Mammal Network (www.lmmn.org), while I was watching the Dolphins in the Kiawah River on March 18. She spends a lot of time monitoring the local Dolphin and shared with me that this behavior goes on regularly and she has wondered if it is the same few Gulls who have figured this out. The Dolphin is a two year old who still stays pretty close to its mother, who was feeding nearby.
These two had developed an understanding. and if you zoom in on the next image you’ll see the Gull got a fish just as the Dolphin ducked under the water.
It appeared that the Bonaparte’s Gull was following the Dolphin, which presumably was following fish.
Lastly, a wider view of the unlikely pair, taken on the Kiawah side of the river, looking towards Seabrook Island.
The sun was up but had ducked behind a cloud that was low on the horizon, creating a milky light. The water was shallow and this American Avocet was among the birds taking advantage of the easy feeding.
A Willet preening at the surf’s edge.