Tag Archives: Water Bird

Tundra Swans

The real reason we headed out early yesterday morning was not for the sunrise of my last post, but to see the Tundra Swans take off. We did not get to see where they spent the night or lift off but did catch them in air well after the sun was up.

Tundra Swans in Flight
Tundra Swans in Flight

Around three hundred Tundra Swans are known to winter within South Carolina’s Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, likely descendants of a group that first came here in the 1970s with a flock of Canada Geese.

Tundra Swans in Flight
Tundra Swans in Flight

The Swans flew over us in small groups, mostly headed down the coast. During the day they spread out through the ACE Basin (Ashepoo, Combahee and Edisto River Basin), 350,000 acres of mostly marshes and wetlands, to feed. They return to Bear Island WMA each night.

Tundra Swans in Flight
Tundra Swans in Flight

The Tundra Swans will leave SC by early March headed toward their breeding grounds in the Arctic.

White Pelicans in Flight

I’ve tried to stop taking  bird in flight shots unless they are really close as I just end up disappointed and deleting them.

However, when this flock was coming, I took the shot. Lots of them actually.

White Pelican Flock
White Pelican Flock

We had seen a large number of these Pelicans as the sun was coming up. This was about an hour later and hundreds more passed over us in a few waves over several minutes.

White Pelican Flock
White Pelican Flock

In the next photo you can pick out a couple of Cormorants in the mix. I’m not sure if they were flying with the Pelicans or if the Pelicans passed them.

White Pelican Flock
White Pelican Flock

We were hoping the flock might land in a nearby pond, but they kept on moving at a pretty brisk pace.

White Pelican Flock
White Pelican Flock

Click on any photo for a larger view. 

Common Gallinule Chicks

The Common Gallinules have reproduced much later in the summer than the other water birds in this area.  Through the end of August we spotted a few families around the rice ponds and marsh areas.

Common Gallinule
Common Gallinule Chick – click image for larger view

Awkward, like most young, these chicks are covered with fuzz which picked up the duck weed, making them look even sillier. Members of the Rallidae family, they do swim even though their feet are not webbed and I usually see them just floating or wading.

Common Gallinule Chicks
Common Gallinule Chicks – click image for larger view

One of the adults came closer when the chicks ventured into the deeper water to supervise.

Common Gallinule Chick with Adult
Common Gallinule Chick with Adult – click image for larger view

At least one juvenile Alligator was nearby and while I don’t think they can catch or eat even the small Gallinule chicks, I’m sure mom wasn’t far away.

Juvenile Alligator
Juvenile Alligator – click image for larger view

 

Anhinga Pair Nesting

Busy working on their nest at the end of the day this Anhinga pair was a challenge to photograph due to the low light. I used Dfine 2 to reduce the noise, hoping to keep the wing detail.

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The male brought Spanish Moss and branches for nesting materials

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Practically condo living,  all this activity is  just below an active Great Blue Heron nest. The GBH neighbors are mostly tolerant, but occasionally sqwak  over the side of their higher perch.

Anhinga Pair Nesting

Magnolia Plantation Audubon Swamp Rookery, 2/13 & 2/14 2017,

Wood Duck

A few Wood Ducks have been around the ponds at Magnolia Gardens over the last month. With the males’ color scheme they are easy to pick out in a crowd of ducks. That and they are usually retreating faster than the rest, having been aware of a human before you spot them.

Wood Duck

This day they were gathered at the far end of the big pond. I waited at an opening in the brush for them to edge their way closer.

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Back and forth, I finally got a couple of shots without too much glare on the water.

Anhinga Feeding

More “how’d he do that?”

A few days ago I posted photographs of an Anhinga flexing his neck in an unnatural looking way. This week I saw another Anhinga flipping a fish like a Benihana chef–he didn’t have the height but he had some other moves.

Anhinga with fish

I don’t know how he stabbed the fish, especially in that murky water covered with duck weed. But once he had the fish speared it was a mere minute before he swallowed the fish … whole!

Anhinga with fish

His end game is to get the fish facing head first down his throat so that any spines on the fish won’t get lodged on the way down. Flip, turn, turn, turn.

Anhinga with fish

He was an expert and at no time lost his hold on the fish. At the same time the Anhinga has to swim to keep afloat.

Anhinga with fish

There would be no getting away for this fish, stabbed completely through.

Anhinga with fish

I didn’t get any clear shots of the fish going down and it was over in an amazingly short amount of time. The Anhinga then swam to nearby platform, lifted out of the water and fanned his wings to dry.

Anhinga Drying

Click on any photo for larger view.

Magnolia Plantation Rice Field Pond, Charleston, SC.

Flexo-neck Anhinga

Or, “how’d he do that?”

It is mystifying to watch the larger birds scrunch their necks so they look like spirals, partly because it happens so fast and a turn of the head makes it look like a bad yoga position.

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One turn to look the other way.

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Then his head is down like a corkscrew. The rest of his body never moved as if it wasn’t attached.

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Old rice fields at Magnolia Plantation, Charleston, SC 1/4/2017.