I would never be surprised to find the Skinny Tree had succumbed to the elements and fallen into the pond. Happily, it made it through another wading bird nesting season, providing a start to one Great Blue Heron chick in the top nest and five or six Great Egret chicks in at least two nests lower down.
All sorts of birds will use the tree as a perch for the next several months for fleeting moments. Come December the cycle will start again again when the Great Blue Herons start staking out nest sites and hopefully this tree will be around to participate.
It appears that the duck box has no bottom, so any Wood Ducks looking for a nesting spot will have to find another location.
Magnolia Plantation and Gardens, Charleston, SC
July 23, 2021
A few Gadwalls have been hanging out at Ravenswood Pond for the winter. They have been pretty quick to move to the middle or far side of the pond if they sense any human activity. On this day this small group took their time passing by me.
They will be heading out soon on their spring migration.
This scene is looking the length of this rectangular, man-made pond. The “skinny tree” I sometimes mention is hosting a Great Blue Heron and can be made out on the right.
There is duck weed all around the pond and some other bright green pond vegetation has thrived on the right-hand side.
You may recognize the “skinny tree” as this GBH pair’s selected nesting spot. From a heron’s point of view it is a good location, surrounded by water.
They were starting from nothing as last year’s nest on this tree didn’t survive intervening storms.
The male had just brought a long stick, they mated, and then they took turns moving the stick around, so much so that I expected it to end up in the water below.
Despite their affectionate display I don’t think this pairing took. The male left and picked at some sticks across the pond but did not return. Eventually the female left, too. Sometimes they just leave to eat but don’t like to leave a started nest for interlopers so a committed couple takes turns. The next day six White Ibis were sunbathing here.
Just as it was starting to rain and we were heading out a Great Blue Heron landed in the Skinny Tree. It was a long, soft shot, but I do like all the colors around the edge of the pond.
If you zoom in you’ll see that all of last year’s nesting material is gone from the tree. The GBH nest was where the Heron is standing; Great Egrets built three nests lower down, one on top of the Wood Duck box. I expect a Great Blue Heron pair will start building it up soon as this has been one of the prime nesting sites on this pond for many years.
Either by instinct or from learning from a parent, this Great Blue Heron chick was defending himself from a Great Egret Intruder. This is the same nest in the Skinny Tree featured in Scram, Great Egret where the GBH adult was protecting his nest.
The chick made himself really big.
I suspect they’ve done this before and shortly the Great Egret went back to poking at sticks on the outer branches of the tree.