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 a natural wonder.
Weeks later, they continue to frequent the area and practice their independence.
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……
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.
Last month relaxing on that same beach, I set up a long lens as Sanderlings and Red Knots foraged nearby.
Two of the Sanderlings played a territorial tag team match.
An Osprey hovered overhead ready to dive into its next meal.
Then a Black-Bellied Plover skittered in the wash, hardly ever stopping to pose.
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.
Years ago, the thing that impressed me about Hatteras Island was how temperate the winters could be. The first few years after I moved here, I don’t think it ever went below freezing. I learned that the water surrounding the island acts as a heat sink and tends to keep temperatures more moderate, compared to those to the north and inland.
This year has not been one of those winters. The cold fronts have been colder, stormier and more frequent.
A series of storms took its toll on the Rodanthe Pier. Last week I could see that the end of the pier would soon collapse into the sea.
An hour after I made this shot, the pier became 75 feet shorter. The next day, the owners retrieved some of the timbers washed in on the beach and are resolved to rebuild it.
In the meantime, temperatures have plummeted and the Pamlico Sound froze overnight. The ice sculpted on the shoreline was a sight to behold. There were icicles on the marsh of all different shapes and sizes.
The sound was solid ice for hundreds of yards off shore.
When the waters freeze, the ducks come in wherever they can find open water. At a pond near my house, I found a variety including this Ring-Necked Duck.
A Pie-Billed Grebe was among the group.
There were about 50 Ruddy Ducks.
I was excited to see this Canvasback. It’s a sure sign that winter is far from over, and that it’ll only get colder.
I’ve always loved taking pictures of things without being tied to restrictive parameters or deadlines. So over the years, I’ve given myself “assignments” to shoot particular things almost exclusively on the Outer Banks. I’ll hunt for waterfowl, landscapes or even people just for the satisfaction of getting a good shot.
Several weeks ago I decided to look for pelicans, and there was a lot of activity on Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge near Oregon Inlet. I have pelican shots both in film and digital formats, but felt a need to improve on what I already had.
The main thing was to put myself in a location and react. It’s simple. I had an image or two in mind, but the unexpected always happens. I shot 3 different sessions, as elements seemed to come together at once, wind and light as key components.
I had a beautiful environment in which to work.
There was a huge feeding frenzy one afternoon with cormorants, gulls and a few pelicans.
For those with skills, the ocean provided.
One day swells from an offshore storm made a nice backdrop.
Most of the flocks seemed to come in groups of three.
As I was leaving, a landscape scene impressed me.
Then I was inspired by a beautiful tree someone had lovingly decorated.
Merry Christmas Everyone!