A Brown Pelican lowered his feet, opened his wings wide, and slid into the water — it still amazes me no mater how many times I’ve seen it.
One of the challenges in wildlife photography is choosing where to stand. Should I stay put or go to the next opening for a better view? Will the bird stay on the same path or veer to the left? Are there any Alligators nearby?
I saw this pair of Black Skimmers coming towards me along the edge of the pond. My view was obstructed of their approach by the reeds.
I got lucky and they stayed together and moved into the center of the open water. I stayed put and got an aerial show.
I love to watch these birds fly and wonder when they are in pairs how they stay synchronized.
Their fishing is done by touch and when the Skimmer feels a fish in the water their heads snap down as they lift the prey.
Just after the Juvenile Little Blue Heron flew off I realized he wasn’t alone in the trees above me.
This Anhinga was having a look around.
These views from underneath show off how sharp the Anhinga’s bill is, perfectly shaped for the way they spear fish under water.
After I passed by I turned for another image and a look at those amazing webbed feet, which you can see better if you zoom in.
The rookery islands do not rise much above sea level which is one of the reasons the Brown Pelican nests have a low success rate. Over wash from storm driven tides can and has easily wiped out whole colonies on this and other barrier islands.
The bird chaos was amazing with numerous species in addition to the Brown Pelicans using the island. Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, and Laughing Gulls were well represented.
This view is the sea-ward end of the island, with the shore crowded with Brown Pelicans and Laughing Gulls. The island down to the low tide mark is a protected preserve.
Shore access is not allowed during nesting season; these images were all taken from a boat at a shutter speed of 1/2000th of a second to help compensate for the boat movement.
See my previous post Brown Pelican Chicks for a closer look at five chicks.
One Black Australian Swan pair had a single cygnet on my recent visit to Swan Lake and Iris Gardens.
The youngster was all about practicing his swimming skills.
He didn’t get too far from the parents, who were quick to catch up with him if he paddled off.
Just a little ball of fluff, he exhibited no concern about forging ahead.
Owned and operated by the City of Sumter, SC, Swan Lake Iris Gardens is home to all eight known species of swan.
A few wading bird pairs are just now hatching young even as some of the older chicks have fledged. I saw just one tiny chick underneath this female nesting Anhinga–you can just see the head at the lower left of the adult. Some of the other broods this year have had four chicks.
There may be more to come in this nest as the eggs may hatch over several days.
Anhingas feed their young by regurgitating food which the chicks actively retrieve by sticking their heads up the parent’s esophagus. Painful looking, especially when the chicks get bigger.
Click on images for larger view.
Watching Brown Pelicans fly can be mesmorizing. They often glide in small groups along the shore line, gracefully and with what looks like little effort.
And with some secret signal they turn in unison.
These were taken at the end of the day and there wasn’t much light. This last Pelican was by himself and went right over my head, and yes I wear a hat.
We stopped at a dock to watch the sun go down and this Laughing Gull made a few last passes over the water.
The reflecting sun made interesting blue and orange stripes in the water.
In a matter of seconds the color disappeared along with the bird.
05/24/2019, Folly Beach Road, SC
The male Anhingas have been showing off as they get ready for breeding season. The blue-green coloration around their eyes is very pronounced and I’ve seen them displaying their wings in dramatic poses.
This male was in a tree above the pond-side trail flashing his wings. I didn’t see any females nearby and he soon took off with a flourish.
He didn’t go far, landing in a nearby tree that already has a Great Blue Heron nest and several Great Egret nests.
March 10, 2019
I never get tired of watching this scene unfold:
Down the hatch
This was a tiny meal for an Anhinga and I have no idea how they locate such a fish while swimming under water. See my post Anhinga Feeding from two years ago to see how big a fish they are capable of swallowing.