Wednesday, November 25, 2020

Cooper’s Hawk on the Stalk


A stranger came to town yesterday. This Cooper’s Hawk made a rather noisy appearance late in the afternoon as I was sitting on the back porch. 

I looked up after hearing a noise above me in a nearby tree. The hawk appeared to slam into the tree. It may have been after a squirrel or small bird up there. 

It then proceeded to perch on a branch for several minutes. I was able to take a number of photographs from my Adirondack chair. 

I was lucky to have my Canon DSLR at hand. I was back there reading but also listening for the Belted Kingfisher that I’ve heard for weeks around the pond a short distance away. 

Friday, November 20, 2020

150,000 Pageviews and Counting!

 My BirdsEyeViews blog hit a milestone this month (November 2020) when this pageviews counter registered 150,000.  

In April 2017 the 100,000 number was reached and I acknowledged that with this post. I began my blog in May 2010 when I really started to get into bird and nature photography. The first post back then was titled, appropriately, "Time to Blog!"

Thursday, November 12, 2020

Magnolia Cemetery- No “Hoodies” but Still Plenty to Photograph

Come November at Charleston’s Magnolia Cemetery you can always count on seeing Hooded Mergansers (“Hoodies” for short) wading in one or both of the ponds. 

That was the incentive to visit Sunday afternoon. But, alas, the colorful Hoodie was not to be seen. Maybe they are running late in their southern migration. We’ll have to return in a few weeks to see. Meantime, to see these darling wading birds click on the embedded link above that will take you to a previous post of mine. 

Tuesday, October 20, 2020

Ruminating on Enumerating: My 2020 U.S. Census Work


This shadowy figure appeared at hundreds of Charleston area doorways during the past few months. 

I was among a legion of U.S Census “enumerators” or “door knockers” as some called us. Our job was to go to residences in which the occupants, for whatever reasons, had yet to fill out the 2020 Census questionnaire. 

This despite the ease of completing the form by mail, online, and telephone. And despite the millions of multi-media dollars Uncle Sam spent to advertise and remind Americans to do so and why to do so is important. 

Here's a quick summary why the decennial (every 10 years) U.S. Census is important. 

Thursday, October 15, 2020

American Redstart a Startling Backyard Discovery!


It is rare these days when a bird comes to my backyard feeders that I do not recognize. But in recent weeks a visitor has had me doing double takes. And triple takes. (See story update below!)

What is with the yellow feathers at the end of this bird? I thought they were at the tip of its wings. Now I know these are yellow tail feathers. 

Now I know this is an American Redstart, a “New World Warbler” according to Wikipedia (OK maybe not the best source for ornithology). 

Curious name for this yellow-tinged bird. Redstart. Well, the name comes more from the male version  that has a “Halloween-themed color scheme,” as described by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology

Monday, October 12, 2020

Contest Winner: Magnolia Cemetery Sunrise

 When I saw that the weekly Charleston Post and Courier photography contest topic was graveyards and cemeteries, I thought this is one I have to enter. Deciding which photo to submit was the hard part. 

I thought about the pictures I took last November when Magnolia Cemetery superintendent and fellow Carolinas Nature Photography Association (CNPA) member Beverly Donald opened the gates pre-dawn for our club members to take sunrise photos. 

Those of us who came out so early enjoyed a glorious sunrise in the dramatic setting of beautiful and historic Magnolia Cemetery.

I posted my ten favorite photos from the day (good example of a "listicle" list article that I have shared with my college students) and this is where I found the image I entered in the newspaper's contest. 

Tuesday, October 6, 2020

Edisto Island Fixer Upper- Glass Half Full or Empty?

This may be the saddest mailbox I’ve ever seen! 

Its “mouth” is open as if saying “I deserve better than this.”

The location is 7944 Steamboat Landing Rd. off Highway 174 on Edisto Island

The poor mailbox caught my eye a few weeks after a beach visit. Saturday during a drive out this way we stopped by so I could photograph this box and the property behind it. 

The old red house and trailer next to it are not much to look at either. 

Vacant and seemingly abandoned the property has been neglected for who knows how many years. 

The house is barely visible from the road. If not safe from the growth devouring it, a strong fence offers some protection. 

Saturday, September 26, 2020

Beach Butterflies!

 It was our first time back to Sullivan’s Island last weekend in several months since the ban on chairs, umbrellas and basically doing at the beach what we and others enjoy- sitting down and hanging out. 

My beach posts this summer have been from Edisto Beach, which did not have such restrictions. Since hearing that Sullivan’s had finally chilled we decided to make a visit. This after we enjoyed an excellent lunch at Obstinate Daughter, a really good restaurant on the island. And we wanted to check if our “secret” free parking spot was still available and still free. It was and is, so that was good too. 

Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Charleston Smokestacks May Be Removed


I was downtown yesterday afternoon and found myself near the old smokestacks on East Bay near the Cigar Factory.

Recent Charleston Post and Courier articles have covered how the 135-foot stacks may be razed or reduced to half size due to interior cracks that could someday cause crumbling onto nearby homes (and there are many homes just across the street).

Saturday, September 12, 2020

Labor Day Stingrays? No Way! Yes Way!

Labor Day marks the unofficial end of summer. But the hot, humid weather continues in the Charleston area.

Fall or autumn begins Tuesday, Sept. 22 and Daylight Savings Times ends on Sunday, Nov. 1. 

Edisto Beach was a pleasant place to spend part of this national holiday. The skies were overcast and it was a bit windy. The beach wasn’t too crowded. And one of the best things about Edisto is the free parking that is very close to the sand.
We may start going again to Sullivan’s Island now that beach chairs are allowed after months of the “keep it moving” ordinance due to COVID-19.

Edisto has been great this summer though the drive is longer. The atmosphere here is always relaxed and family-oriented.

Monday, August 31, 2020

Sanderlings on Sands of Edisto Beach

It’s easy to take the common beach birds for granted. They are all gulls and kind of look the same, one may think.

But a closer look reveals a wide variety of species and some interesting distinctions. A few weeks ago here at Edisto Island Beach I photographed some Willets, another type of Sandpiper (collective name "fling").

Yesterday it was these Sanderlings (collectively called a "grain").  As big a birder that I think I am I needed help both weekends to correctly identify these shore (no longer bore) birds.

At Edisto Beach, there’s not as much going on as say Sullivan’s Island where I’ve always enjoyed watching the big cargo ship going in and out of Charleston’s harbor.

Like Sullivan’s and our other area beaches, Edisto has its squadrons of Brown Pelicans flying their sorties. But now I’ve become more curious about the smaller birds seen feeding and frolicking along the shoreline.

Sunday, August 23, 2020

Sunset Photo in a Magazine!

 I was excited when yesterday’s Post and Courier was delivered to see that it included a new issue of My Charleston, a magazine the paper produces annually.

My photos have appeared in it in past years. These are pictures I submitted for the P&C’s weekly themed photography contests.

So I was thrilled to see that this year one of my photos was used.
I took this image (above) several months ago with my iPhone coming out of Gold’s Gym on Ashley Phosphate Road where I work out.

In My Charleston my shot appears with seven others in a two page “Sunsets” spread.

Here’s the cover of the magazine touted as “The Post and Courier’s Guide To Life In The Lowcountry.”

It is that and more, a fine publication that I am honored to be part of!

Tuesday, August 18, 2020

Edisto So Chill on a Hot Summer Sunday

This deep into summer the beach at Edisto Island was not as crowded as previous weekends. The rather remote locale has been a pleasant getaway during this unprecedented year of the pandemic.

It’s a bit of a drive from our Charleston-area home but worth it with the free, easy and close to the beach parking. And again on this day, the weather was perfect despite a forecast of possible rain in the area.

(left) Fishers (or anglers) in the foreground, a child walks in the middle of an ocean groin and check out the squadron of Brown Pelicans coming in swift and low in the background.
Beach scenes. The clouds were impressive on this day. These photos are slightly enhanced with high dynamic range (HDR) processing tools.

The Willet is a common sight on local beaches. It’s a pretty little shore bird with a striking black-tipped bill.

 Laughing Gulls are also beach regulars. They look for handouts for humans. During mating season the bill is red. A group of Laughing Gulls can be called a "gullery" or "screech."

Look closely at the photo below. There’s a smidge of red at the tip of the bill.  Bird source material says these may be non-breeding Laughing Gulls.

Saturday, August 15, 2020

ACE Basin Birthday Treat!

On Tuesday, August 11 I headed down to the ACE Basin for a getaway on a special day for me, a certain landmark birthday.

A fine dinner that night with Alesia at Hall’s Chophouse and a surprise online get together with my kids and siblings would come later in the day. But by 10:30 a.m. or so I was at the Donnelley Wildlife Management Area located south of Charleston some 65 miles from my house in a place called Green Pond, S.C.

It was a very warm day but it felt good to be again roaming the vast and remote nature preserve once the domain of plantations (and slaves toiling in the rice fields).

To follow are my photographs from this summer outing.

First is featured some of the birds I captured in flight. Seeing a number of the distinctive Swallow-tailed Kites was a highlight. A veritable kettle of kits there was!  That is one of the collective names for Kites. "String" could be a good one too, right?

They and their close relative Mississippi Kite were spotted circling above a field near the lodge structure at Donnelley.

Sunday, August 2, 2020

Botany Bay’s Boneyard Beach

Edisto Island Beach has been our sandy sun spot this summer but Saturday we returned to an old friend not far from Edisto. But before I take you there, I want to mention how on our way we stopped for lunch at a wonderful restaurant along the way. Roxbury Mercantile is on Highway 174 in the community of Meggett, S.C. I had a pork barbecue sandwich that was delicious. Do want to go there again! 

Botany Bay (official name: Botany Bay Plantation Heritage Preserve/Wildlife Management Area) has a unique look, nothing like the well manicured Edisto Beach community. Botany Bay is remote and rugged. It has what’s called a boneyard beach for the dozens of trees over the years that have fallen due to erosion, hurricanes and other storms. 

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Edisto Cloud Show!

Edisto Island has become our go-to beach this summer. The drive is longer than Sullivan’s and Folly but we know we can bring our chairs. Sullivan’s Island still asks visitors to keep moving. We’ve heard if you bring a towel you can stay for a while. We need our beach chairs.

Edisto on Sunday was very nice. The sun was shining, it wasn’t too hot, the water was comfortable and the waves were active for some body surfing. But the clouds, to me, were the highlight. They were poppin’ in all directions. With the Snapseed application on my iPad, I need some processing to make the clouds pop even more.

I also shared these on the Facebook site South Carolina Rambles and have received many likes and favorable comments.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Boeing, Boeing, Gone...Almost

Last Saturday when driving near the big Boeing 787 Dreamliner plant (campus if you prefer) I spotted this Vietnam Airlines passenger plane in front of the huge paint building. Looks like it was just painted and is a step closer to being delivered.

The plane looks spiffy until I noticed the yellow star surrounded by red on the tail fin. That’s the flag of the Socialist Republic of Vietnam. Vietnam is still Communist and I can’t help but think of the long, bloody, and divisive Vietnam War I grew up with in the 1960s and ‘70s. My U.S. Army officer father went to Vietnam during the war and fortunately came home safely to us. 

Yesterday a different Dreamliner was outside the Boeing paint building. This one is going to Singapore Airlines. A local newspaper article said how due to the coronavirus pandemic Boeing has not been able to deliver completed 787s as quickly as in the past. The article said how the plant is having to find new places to store the big jets. Maybe that’s why I’ve been seeing some at this location in recent weeks. I’ll post more pictures of different airlines if I continue seeing them here. 

Last week I spotted the paint building open, one of the big bay doors anyway. I have always been curious about what it looks like inside the huge structure. This view didn’t reveal too much. 

This is a Dutch KLM 787 Boeing Dreamliner. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Mail Male Bluebird

Our recently repaired, repainted and renumbered mailbox looked even better yesterday when this beautiful Eastern Bluebird perched on it for a few minutes.

I wasn’t sure the male on the mailbox would still be there as I quickly went inside my house to grab my camera.

Fortunately, he was still there and I was able to snap a few pictures.

The white spot (it’s something I’d rather not see) on my box is evidence that birds, maybe this one, has hung out here before.

The beauty of these birds far outweighs a little mess here and there. To me anyway.

Male and female Bluebirds and other types are all welcome on my mailbox. Just don’t poop on the door opener please! 

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Heavenly Hilton Head

It was a great getaway for several days this month to head down the coast to Hilton Head Island. It was our 35th wedding anniversary so pandemic or not we planned a special trip. A Caribbean island would have been nice but with so many travel concerns, Hilton Head made sense being in state and not too far away plus it is a world-class resort with beautiful beaches and excellent restaurants.

Monday, July 13- the dawn of a new day. Special one for us as it was our 35th wedding anniversary. The next ones I took Tuesday morning.

Monday, July 6, 2020

Down They Go...

We live in tumultuous times- possibly up there among the most difficult periods this nation has ever faced. Since early 2020 the coronavirus pandemic has killed hundreds of thousands of people around the world, inlcuding more than 132,000 in the U.S.  No end is in sight to this death toll.

Then on May 25 in Minneapolis George Floyd, a 46-year-old African American man, is killed on the street by a police officer who relentlessly kneeled on his neck for eight minutes, despite Floyd repeatedly saying he could not breathe. Floyd died at the scene.

The resulting protests and riots, many violent with bloodshed, fires and looting, have rocked and disrupted America. Statues of historic Americans linked with slavery and racism (accurately or not in some cases) have been vandalized, toppled, burned and destroyed.

In Charleston the tall statue in Marion Square of John C. Calhoun was recently removed by order of the mayor and City Council.

He may have been South Carolina’s most prominent political figure ever as a 19th century U.S. senator and Vice President. But his pro-slavery stance and the policies he championed to uphold and try to expand slavery have long been controversial and upsetting to Blacks.

I took this photo with my iPhone in January 2018 while sitting in the Starbucks at the Francis Marion Hotel. What I liked about it was how it is “so Charleston” with its images reflecting religion (the “Holy City” with so many church steeples), the city’s rich history represented by the Calhoun monument, and a palmetto tree, which is a state symbol and on the South Carolina flag.

Monday, June 15, 2020

Back to the Beach with Pandemic Precautions

A walk on the beach seemed like a good idea Sunday afternoon so that’s what we did yesterday. We weren’t sure what to expect weather-wise (overcast and possibly rain) or access-wise (knowing that restrictions are in effect).

The shrimp trawler Captain BTS coming into Charleston Harbor. That's St. Philip's Church on the left.

Wednesday, June 3, 2020

Herons Versus Frogs: Herons Win

Sometimes the small pond behind my house resembles the “Wild Kingdom” TV show I remember watching as a kid. In recent weeks I’ve been able to capture with my camera a Green Heron, then a Little Blue Heron, catch and swallow (awkwardly) large bullfrogs.

Both times it was in about the same spot near or amid tall weeds along the far bank of the pond. And both times the resident alligator kept an eye on me taking pictures.


Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Memorable Memorial Day Weekend Beach Visit

 Sunday we wanted to hit the beach for the first time this year but feared fierce traffic delays and mobs of fellow sun worshipers at beaches closer to Charleston.

So we made the just more than an hour drive to Edisto Island and we’re glad we did, finding the traffic light, and parking easy close to the sands.

The beach here was pretty crowded but the tide was going out so “social distancing” was not a problem.

The skies were clear with temperatures in the low 80s. Just a pleasant few hours all around. We didn’t want to get too sunburn so we’re careful not to stay too long. The large American flag near where we set up our chairs added to the positive Memorial Day vibe. And the water was very refreshing too!

Thursday, May 21, 2020

ACE Basin Excursion- “At Least (Bittern) A Lifer” Bird For Me

What better way to celebrate the end of another school year- and what a strange one it has been thanks to the coronavirus pandemic- then to head south to one of my favorite Lowcountry nature preserves.

It’s a long drive (59.5 miles from my house to this entrance sign, taking about one hour 10 minutes) to the Bear Island Wildlife Management Area, but well worth it to experience a vast protected preserve interesting in its layout and teeming with wildlife, especially alligators (avoid these) and multitudes of bird species.

The trip was a pleasant one as I drove with my window and sunroof wide open on a very mild mid-May day.

The time flew by as I listened to a favorite podcast (“Civil War Talk Radio”) that I hadn’t heard in a few months since school was closed as COVID-19 began to hit and shut down America.

It was only 60 degrees when I arrived at 9:30 a.m. at Bear Island (official location is TiTi Road, Green Pond, S.C.).