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.
The “Skinny Tree” sees lots of wading bird occupants but this is the first time I’ve seen a potential nest builder check out the roof. In fact, the only bird I remember seeing perched on top was a King Fisher.
This Great Egret took a moment to scan the sky as a low airplane passed by. The Skinny Tree is only about 3 miles (5 KM) from Charleston International Airport and Joint Base Charleston so these birds get used to sharing the skies with all sorts of aircraft.
I’m not sure how this next image might display on your various devices due to its height, but wanted to show the levels. The Great Egret was really interested in occupying a nesting site in the trees branches, which are already occupied.
In a broader and lower view I captured the Great Blue Heron driving a Great Egret away as he protected his chick, which can be seen next to the tree trunk behind the adult.
There is a touch of fall color in the “skinny tree” which earlier this year hosted one Great Blue Heron and several Great Egret families. Now the tree serves as an occasional landing spot for a passing bird.
This Anhinga chose it as a drying off spot and executed a smooth landing.
He then turned his back to the sun and spread his wings to dry off.