Tag Archives: Water Bird

Bird Rookery

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.

Bird Rookery
Bird Rookery

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.

Bird Rookery
Bird Rookery

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.

Bird Rookery
Bird Rookery, Sign: “Island Closed – Do Not Come Ashore”

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.

Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet

One Black Australian Swan pair had a single cygnet on my recent visit to Swan Lake and Iris Gardens.

 Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet
Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet

The youngster was all about practicing his swimming skills.

 Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet
Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet

He didn’t get too far from the parents, who were quick to catch up with him if he paddled off.

 Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet
Black Australian Swans with One Cygnet

Just a little ball of fluff, he exhibited no concern about forging ahead.

 Black Australian Swan Cygnet
Black Australian Swan Cygnet

Owned and operated by the City of Sumter, SC, Swan Lake Iris Gardens is home to all eight known species of swan.

New Anhinga Chick

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.

Female Anhinga and Chick
Female Anhinga and new Chick, Older chick behind

There may be more to come in this nest as the eggs may hatch over several days.

Female Anhinga and Chick
Female Anhinga and Chick

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.

Female Anhinga and Chick
Female Anhinga and Chick – Feeding Time

Click on images for larger view.

Brown Pelicans in Flight

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.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

And with some secret signal they turn in unison.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

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.

Brown Pelicans in Flight
Brown Pelicans in Flight

Anhinga Ready to Go!

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.

Anhinga Ready to Fly
Anhinga Ready to Fly

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.

Anhinga In Flight
Anhinga In Flight

He didn’t go far, landing in a nearby tree that already has a Great Blue Heron nest and several Great Egret nests.

Anhinga In Flight
Anhinga In Landing Below Great Egret Nest

March 10, 2019

3 Coots

I had hopes that these three American Coots would synchronize their swimming direction or angle for a portrait composition.

American Coot Trio
American Coot Trio

They circled, they zigged and zagged, they separated and came back together, but an organized group shot was not to be.

American Coot Trio
American Coot Trio

Eventually they did all turn their heads in the same direction, almost.

American Coot Trio
American Coot Trio

Pied-billed Grebe

Small and chunky, the Pied-billed Grebe always looks like a baby-faced juvenile to me.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

Last week several of them were swimming in the rice field canal. Saltbrush seeds from shrubs that lined the bank were drifting over the water.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

The lowering late afternoon light and growth on the opposite bank changed the look of the water as I proceeded down the canal.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

Further along the Saltbrush seeds looked like sparkly feathers floating on the water. Saltbrush, Baccharis halimifolia, is a woody shrub or small tree in the Asteraceae family, and is also known as Groundsel.

Pied-billed Grebe
Pied-billed Grebe

Common Gallinule

I hear Common Gallinules more often than see them. Per All About Birds they “make all sorts of chicken-like clucks, whinnies, cackles, squawks, and yelps.” Needless to say, many a birder has jumped when that racket starts, often accompanied by one or more Gallinules running across the water to safety.  I often refer to them as the early warning system for other ducks and wildlife I might have been hoping to see.

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule

These images were taken on different days, but in the same area. The stump in the image above is newly sticking out of the water as the rice field pond has been drained for repairs.

The red bill in the image below looks almost like fake plastic, but that is how they look. Bald Eagles will stalk Gallinules in this pond and I wonder how that beacon of red appears to them.

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule