Sunday, April 2, 2017

Bevy of Backyard Birds and Other Recent Captures

Now that winter has passed, I'm starting to see more bird activity in my backyard and pond. Plus, a recent weekend in Hilton Head produced a nice bird photography opportunity. And I have a few photos to share from Magnolia Cemetery, which include an Anhinga with a fresh fish catch.

So this post is kind of a nest for my recent birding activities.

The American Goldfinches have been coming around recently. They are still in the molting stage, well on their way to the beautiful solid yellow sheen for which this striking bird is known.

I took these photos from my upstairs bathroom "blind."

In this photograph, molting-in-progress is noticeable. Its head looks a bit scruffy, dirty almost, but its just the changing of colors process.

The Goldfinches really like this seed block.

I have also spotted this bird in another feeder in my backyard. This one is a tube with a barrier around it to keep out larger birds and those pesky squirrels.

Another seasonal visitor has been the Red-winged Blackbird.

I see these all the time down in the ACE Basin, but rarely in my backyard.

 The distinctive shoulder wing marking or badge leave no doubt as this bird's identity!

The male has this distinctive look. The female appear to be another type of bird, as they are kind of speckled looking with dark coloring and white too.

A few days after seeing the Red-winged Blackbird, I was in my backyard, camera in hand, when I heard a high-pitched call that I was certain was another Red-winged.

I focused up into the tree and spotted this bird, which turned out to be the Brown-headed Cowbird.

These I have also spotted at my feeders in recent weeks, both the male and female who doesn't sport a brown head.

South Carolina's state bird is a regular patron of my feeders and I've photographed them many times over the years.

But I've never captured an image quite like this one, from behind.

The cocky bird has had a lot to crow about in recent weeks with the success of the University of South Carolina men's and women's basketball teams in the NCAA Tournament.

And let's not forget Clemson winning the Division I football title this year and Coastal Carolina still the holder of the NCAA Division I baseball championship!

I took this picture yesterday. This Mourning Dove was first perched at the top of the feeder (below), then went to the ground to feed on fallen seed.

Must say, the Mourning Dove is perhaps the largest bird that regularly comes to my feeders.

Yes, I'm talking about you!

One thing I've observed about Mourning Doves over the years is that they come to my feeders late in the day, late afternoons, early evenings, usually.

Guess they're not what you would call early birds! Ha ha!

Also yesterday, a White-breasted Nuthatch stopped by repeatedly to snack on the tasty bark butter.

I get this at Wild Birds Unlimited. Which reminds me, I'm just about out of it and need to get to Wild Birds soon. The bark butter is something many of the birds really love!

This morning while on my back porch reading the newspaper, I spotted a fox walking along the cart path maybe 150 yards away. Minutes later it ran back the other way.

Unfortunately, I was unable to get a photograph of the fox, but in the pond I saw this Great Blue Heron.

The Great Blue moved over near this Muscovy.

What a pair these two make!

Alesia and I had a nice weekend getaway to Hilton Head Island in March.

From our 10th floor room at the Marriott Resort and Spa, I captured a number of nice shots of the moon, and sunrise.

In mid-March sunrise wasn't until 7:30ish, so I didn't have to get too early to see it like this!

A glorious sight indeed!

This is what Mr. Sun looks like close up!

We stayed on Hilton Head just two nights, but that meant two mornings we were able to see the glorious advent of a new day!

An outing Alesia and I did on Hilton Head was to an historic site that is tied to a freed slave community that was formed after the Union captured Hilton Head and nearby Beaufort during the Civil War. The site is called Mitchelville, named for a Federal officer who oversaw the community in its early stages.

Quite an interesting place that is still being developed as a spot for visitors to learn of this little known but important piece of history.

The bonus for me was finding birds out here!

In the above photo and the one to the right, you see Least Sandpipers. I needed help from's identification forum with the small Sandpipers.

The Killdeer I've seen before in a few Lowcountry places.

The Killeer's name comes from its call, which it is said sounds like "Kill-deer." OK, I'll have to go with that.

Cool name, anyway, and a striking shorebird. I'm glad I captured the orange in its eyes in this shot.

I like the reflections on the water in this photo of Least Sandpipers.

The website includes the names for groups of all the birds it includes. It says that a group of Sandpipers has many collective nouns/names, including a "bind," "contradiction," "fling," "hill" and "timestep."

No, I didn't make up these names!

Here a few other birds I photographed at the Mitchelville Civil War-era site.

Neat to see some Little Blue Herons. I love the subtle shading of its dark colors. Such a handsome bird!

Herons are one of my favorite bird groups.

The Little Blue, which is a lot white when younger, is a favorite among favorites for me!

This lone American White Ibis was in the mix with some other wading birds.

Usually, the White Ibis travels in its "wedges" or "congregations." Maybe this one became separated or just needed some alone time.

The Mitchelville location is really a hidden treasure, I think.

Once you park, it's a fairly short walk through some coastal woods that eventually opens up to beautiful views of the beach and ocean.

We saw a few birds in this open area, including a Brown Pelican.

Brown Pelican in flight...

This photo was taken at a great distance. I like the mirage quality of it.

Alesia leads the way along one of the narrow beach paths.

Obligatory selfie!  Needed some sunscreen. It was such a pretty day for this hike.

We drove around one of the Hilton Head neighborhoods, Queen's Grant I believe it is called. A came across this Anhinga, which like its close cousin Cormorant, likes drying and warming its wings, ala this unusual pose.

The Anhinga is just one of those all-around unusual birds, from its behavior to its looks, which include its unique eyes.

The day we headed down to Hilton Head, Alesia and I stopped by Magnolia Cemetery after a fine lunch at Rodney Scott's new barbecue restaurant in Charleston.

I'm glad we did stop by the cemetery, because I got these photographs.

Alesia alerted me to some movement not far from us in the front lagoon. It was an Anhinga carrying a spot-tailed bass to this perch.

I posted these shots on Facebook. Beverly Donald, Magnolia Cemetery's superintendent, commented about the alligator that is also seen in the back of this shot.

Have to admit, I didn't notice the gator! Thanks Beverly!

Another Facebook friend helped me confirm that the poor fish was in fact a spot-tailed bass.

I was thinking, there's no way the Anhinga could swallow such a big fish.

Well, I was wrong!  Down the hatch it went!

Wow, I already have a new addition to my backyard bird post!  Just a short time ago Alesia alerted me to a reddish bird at the feeder.

Alas, it's a male House Finch!

And he didn't come alone! His female partner was with him at the tube feeder.

I have seen the House Finches before over the years. This is the first time in a while. Many species are making their long journeys back north, know doubt, after wintering in warmer climates.

While photographing the Finches, something else caught my eye, requiring immediate attention.

I thought that seeds went awfully fast, since filling it, what, yesterday?

I have now applied several twisty "thingies" to keep out the annoying and relentless squirrels!
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