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.
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.
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.
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.
Small and chunky, the Pied-billed Grebe always looks like a baby-faced juvenile to me.
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.
The lowering late afternoon light and growth on the opposite bank changed the look of the water as I proceeded down the canal.
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 Asteraceaefamily, and is also known as Groundsel.
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.
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.