Tag Archives: South Carolina

Empty Rookery

The heron and egret rookery at Magnolia Plantation and Gardens is currently home to a few alligators and some turtles. Several weeks ago there were still a few Little Blue Herons and Great Egrets; none were around on Sunday. We’ll be returning periodically over the next month watching for the duck migrants then the return of the herons and egrets.

In the meantime the colors of fall were quite striking on the still water.

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The tree dripping with Spanish Moss below held several Great Blue Heron nests late last winter then was taken over by various Egrets through the summer. The island with the larger trees also had multiple nests. On this day one lone Ibis was watching the swamp.

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Click photos for a larger view.

Asian Brown Wood Owl

I participated in my second Photography Day at the Center for Birds of Prey on Sunday where we had the opportunity to photograph sixteen raptors.

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Most of the birds were limited to perches and handler-held closeups, but a few performed flying demos. The area is host to a large hawk population and the Center has limited some of their birds’ free flying.

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This was one of seven Owls–all of them exceptionally beautiful.

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Center for Birds of Prey, Awanda, SC.

 

Bald Eagle Pair

The sight of a Bald Eagle never fails to impress.  Two together was a real treat. This pair sat watching and waiting for at least a half hour that I was fortunate enough to photograph.

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Anticipating their moves with so little experience watching them make getting the coveted action shot tough. The size of the trees they perch in add to the difficulty.

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The vocalizations of the bird on the right alerted us that something was about to happen.

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Then it was over–they had rearranged themselves in the same tree. A scratch, then they settled back to sitting and watching.

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When the first one finally flew off I lost sight of him quickly behind the trees. I returned my focus to the second Eagle, hoping he would follow in the same path and I might get a shot. After waiting about 15 minutes with no movement we moved on.

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He took off shortly after, a few powerful strokes and he was out of sight across the marsh.

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Click on any image for a larger view.

Killdeer

I heard a Killdeer in the distance so had that species on my mind, but the behavior of this particular bird didn’t match my previous experience with them.

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I’ve seen them run, starting and stopping with almost frantic jerks or take short flights while working an area. This fellow was more casual, just poking along. Camouflage was working for him; if I hadn’t seen him move I wouldn’t have known he was there.

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Despite the behavior the neck and eye bands point to Killdeer according to Peterson’s Eastern Birds and Cornell’s All About Birds.

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Magnolia Plantation, edge of rice field marsh 11/06/2016.

Killdeer at edge of marsh

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Great Blue Heron – A Portrait Session

Not  classic Heron poses, and leaning toward the comical, this Great Blue kept me entertained for quite awhile on a recent afternoon. These shots reminded me of some people I know that are reluctant to have their picture taken.

First we take care of the itch.

Great Blue Heron at Magnolia Plantation

Then a few vocal protests.

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What’s a photo shoot without a photo bomb?

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Finally, settled for the pose, neck tucked back down looking like a scarf in the breeze, a very elegant result.

Great Blue Heron

Interesting that the black patches are much more pronounced in the Great Blue Herons around Magnolia Plantation the last few weeks.

Bull Island Walk

On the walk across Bull Island from the ferry landing to the beach we were entertained by a number of small songbirds like this Phoebe singing his heart out.

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Others were busier looking for their next meal in the reeds

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or the underbrush.

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A single Yellow-bellied Sapsucker seen working a palm tree out in the open defied the bird size trend of the morning.

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Bulls Island, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Awendaw, SC.

Click on any image for larger view.

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Cooper’s Hawk

On the ferry ride to Bulls Island we were told that the eleven of us on the boat would be the only humans on the island, at least until they returned with a second group at noon. The public dock was damaged by Hurricane Matthew and the private service dock wasn’t open to other users.

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It was very quiet as I watched this Cooper’s Hawk for several minutes after two of my companions walked right underneath him not glancing up.

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He looked right at me as I became aware of  noise, sounding like a crowd of people approaching. How could that be? The Hawk remained unfazed as 50 or 60 teenagers and a few chaperones came charging along the path, some quieting and interested in having a look when I pointed him out and some just intent on getting to the beach. I never did find out how they got to the island.

The Hawk moved about 10 feet to an adjacent tree and watched as the group turned the corner and disappeared. I had to move on as the mosquito crowd grew.

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Bulls Island, Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, Awendaw, SC.

Click on any image for larger view.