Sunday, August 19, 2012

Magnolia Cemetery Summer 2012 Favorites

My 2011 book "The Birds of Magnolia Cemetery: Charleston's Secret Bird Sanctuary" was not the end of my interest in this unusually beautiful and historic place. A second book is underway about the many interesting people and monuments at this graveyard that dates to 1850. But I do still keep an eye out for the delightful amount of bird activity at Magnolia Cemetery. This post features photos I've taken in recent months there.  In my new book, I may just have to have a chapter at the end with more bird photos, kind of a mini-sequel to my first book! 
I took this photo in July.  It's by far my favorite bird picture of the summer. I love the position of the two Wood Storks, how they are side by side but looking in opposite directions.  Their reflections are neat too, as is the greenish color to the water. And I like the Snowy Egret, its reflection, and position in relation to the storks. This is a photo I'm planning to have made a large canvas print.  Imaging Arts and Knight Printing in Charleston do great work with these. 
I love this photo also. I'm more likely to see Wood Storks in trees than in the water, so this was a unique sighting for me. And add the Snowy Egret to the mix, the green water color and the reflections- all make for a cool shot.  Plus I did a little PhotoShop black point treatment that I learned from Kate Silvia at our Carolina Nature Photographers meetings.  This easy fix can give photos a darker contrast, a positive polish.
I use that technique with some photos but not in ones like the next two that don't need such a treatment.

A Great Egret on a branch over one of the cemetery's two ponds.
It's been a hot summer and event the birds feel it. In 90-plus temperatures you're more likely to see birds with open beaks like this, sort of like panting but without a dog's (or my) heavy breathing.
This seems to be another cooling device.  I've seen Great Blue Herons (above) and Wood Storks in such unusual positions with their wings.
The distinctive Anhinga spreads its wings to dry them after a swim and food dive in the pond. This bird is quite an underwater hunter/fisher.
The Anhinga in its signature pose.
Then in flight...
A Great Blue Heron takes off over the salt marsh that borders parts of the cemetery.
The Double-crested Cormorant is another big bird that can be very symmetrical when in pairs or more. I love their green eyes.
Note the Cormorants webbed feet and the "can opener" beak.
A Green Heron on the prowl for a meal. This colorful small heron continues to be a favorite of mine.
It's amazing the neck extension Herons and Egrets have!
In June there was a Green Heron nest over the front pond near the cemetery entrance. This is one of the youngsters, just weeks old still with its downy feathers.
In May I spotted a pretty Bluebird on a headstone. The cemetery setting makes for some unique bird perches.  My book has lots of such compositions!
A Northern Mockingbird atop a decorative funerary urn.
Here's the wide shot of the monument and that Mockingburd at the top.  Sometimes I do a double take, stopping and seeing if such a bird is real or part of the sculpture.
Notice the "no see ems" in this shot. Nats, mosquitos, deer flies and other pests can be bad at the cemetery in the summer. That's why I keep spray in the trunk of my car.
A mother Mallard with two offspring in tow. An unusual amount of life- albeit bird life- can be found at Charleston's Magnolia Cemetery.
Aren't they cute, the little Mallards under the watchful eye of their mother! 
Magnolia Cemetery is located at 70 Cunnington Ave. in Charleston, which is off Meeting Street Road near North Charleston. The cemetery is open every day from 8-5. It's a great place to visit to check out the birds, the graves and all the history and style they present. The grounds are very walkable with flat roads and paths.