Category Archives: Birds

Eagles

October has long been my favorite month to live on Hatteras. The weather and waves are an important part of this feeling, but another reason is to experience bird migrations. You never know what might show up.

Recently I heard of a bald eagle in Salvo, so I went to have a look. Across the Pamlico Sound the area of Mattamuskeet is a prime nesting ground for these majestic birds, so it’s no surprise that some of them find their way across the water to Hatteras Island where they can find an abundance of fish.

In my years living here, I’ve seen eagles perhaps a dozen times. My first sighting was one that had been injured, then rehabilitated and released on Pea Island.

In August of 1981 I shot this Kodachrome of Refuge Manager Ron Height, as he released this immature bald eagle.

Heron Appeal

My first encounter with herons began in 1975 on Gull Island, several miles southwest of my home.  Johnny Hooper took me there and I was enthralled with the nesting bird life, including gulls, terns, pelicans and a variety of herons. Consequently I revisited the island numerous times in attempts to photograph them. I found the herons to be particularly attractive from an artistic and photographic standpoint.

Being isolated by Pamlico Sound waters, Gull Island is a haven for nesting waterbirds. On one of my early trips, I saw an elongated neck sticking above the scrubby vegetation. It was a  nesting tricolored heron minding a newly hatched chick. It did not appreciate my curiosity and on my approach, flew off. I remember the chick looking up at me helplessly. Not lingering long, I walked away, and the adult promptly returned. Ever since I’ve relished opportunities to respectfully shoot herons.

Three weeks ago, I learned of some wading birds feeding in a pond near the lighthouse. When I got there, I was happy to see several tricolored herons in the mix.

Herons are designed for what they do best, hunting shallow water.

Looking for a meal, they use their large wings to distract prey.

A long pointed bill, concealed in shade, is the tool of choice.

This heron’s feeding dance mesmerized me.

Last week as we had dinner on our back deck, a Great Egret landed in a live oak next to us. Then I made this unexpected grab shot.

So far, this has been my year of the heron, a symbol of good luck!

 

Fledglings

On each of my visits to the Green Herons’ nest, I noticed more energy and mobility in all 4 chicks. At about 12 days old they were flexing their wings more and beginning to leave the confines and security of the nest. Their growing agility entering this new world continued to amaze me.

As feathers developed, they began taking on some colorful hues.

The parents’ visits were not as frequent as before, but when they arrived at the nest, the chicks were more aggressive for attention.

At around 15 days, wing stretches became routine for pre-flight training.

They meandered and explored the tree where they hatched, all they way down to the water.

At 18 days, these guys were really getting around that willow tree.

At about 23 days old their wing feathers were fully developed.

The adults perched and called from the surrounding trees. Suddenly one chick flew out to them.

Seconds later another followed, then the remaining two took off…

Off into the forest of Buxton Woods they settled in a cypress tree. All four birds fully fledged, I felt fortunate to have witnessed something so wonderful.

Weeks later, they continue to frequent the area and practice their independence.

 

 

 

 

New Life

Despite trying times, life is anew. Spring has sprung, as I’m drawn to nature. That’s where I’ve always been most comfortable. 

The greenery rejuvenates around me. Wildflowers are blooming in fields and roadsides. The air is sweet, and birds are nesting.

Earlier this month, I heard about a pair of green herons building a nest in Buxton Woods. Bird photography has long been one of my passions, so I decided to see if there was any potential making photographs.

The nest was built in a willow tree surrounded by water, growing out of a pond.

There were 4 eggs incubating for almost 3 weeks.

The adults share the nesting process, including incubation.

The eggs hatched on May 16th.

In six days, the chicks had tripled in size, and turned into voracious eaters.

Frogs were the main diet.

The parents frequently left the nest in search of food, only to return and nurture.

At 8 days old, the chicks got even more demanding.

Three days later, the chicks were substantially larger and getting more lively.

To be continued……

 

 

Beautiful Skimmer

south point

I’ve always loved visiting the South Point of Ocracoke. It’s not only a great beach for hanging out, surfing or fishing, but also my favorite place to photograph shorebirds. The flat expanse and tidal influences make it a perfect habitat. The variety of birds is diverse and at times, large in numbers.

shorebirds

Last month relaxing on that same beach, I set up a long lens as Sanderlings and Red Knots foraged nearby.

tag team

Two of the Sanderlings played a territorial tag team match.

osprey

An Osprey hovered overhead ready to dive into its next meal.

plover

Then a Black-Bellied Plover skittered in the wash, hardly ever stopping to pose.

skimmer

Minutes later a Black Skimmer cruised by downwind about 20 yards, then turned and flew back upwind in a remarkable way. The quick, short wingbeats don’t touch the water. The extended lower mandible is designed to scoop up small fish. It’s fascinating to see, and even more rewarding when a camera is ready.

That beautiful Black Skimmer was the icing on my cake.