Surprise shot walking back from the beach one morning
My family likes to make most of an opportunity and living in DC puts us living on the East Coast for the first time ever. That's saying something for a military family that has moved as many times as we have. My boys, like my father before them, counts how many states they have visited and so, with the Virginia and Maryland under their belts, we decided that we would help them add a state or two before leaving the area next summer. Thanksgiving afforded us an entire week to head out of town and so we did... to Charleston, South Carolina. It was a little more than a 9 hour drive. Not close but much easier with teenagers than with young toddlers and we drove much further in one day when they were tiny. So this was manageable. Charleston offered a lot - the coast for my budding marine biologist, birds for his dad and I, and a chance to just get away from the grind of DC for our oldest. He's been studying hard and just needed a break!
Not birds, but awfully tasty
We rented a house on John's Island. It backed up to the marsh, had two kayaks and a canoe for our personal use, a kitchen big enough to cook in and heat a turkey breast in a crockpot for Thanksgiving Day. We were close enough to Charleston to enjoy brunch at Husk
, an excellent restaurant that specializes in local cuisine. Let me just say that they had the best shrimp and grits I have ever tasted. And we were a little further than we liked for the tour we didn't want to miss - a ferry ride out to Bull Island
. We drove an hour from the house to make the 9am ferry one morning and spent the day out on the island. This diary will cover birds in one location - from the kayak at John's Island. I will have to write a Part 2 for the Ferry trip!
First bird of the trip,
White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) in first fall plumage
Kayaking at John's Island
The crabbing dock in evening.
My family loves the beach and though we have visited the Atlantic Coast, we haven't had a lot of opportunity to explore it. Knowing that it would be a lot colder further north, I chose to head south. My husband spent a long summer in North Carolina working on a mission for the USAF so I needed to take us further south than Wilmington. Neither of us had ever visited Charleston so we figured, why not?
One of the reason's I chose the house was it's proximity to the water. The crabbing dock was not even a two minute walk away. The kayaks were in the garage and took only a few minutes to roll on their wheels to the dock and we were on the water, exploring the seaside marshes of South Carolina. Granted, we had to learn how to judge the tide. First day out we fought the tide coming back in... great for an upper arm workout but not so great for photos. It was impossible to stop paddling and shoot without being taken back out by the tide! And that's with a seventeen year old manning the back paddle. But that turning of the tide also meant we got to see dolphins as they came inland to fish.
Dolphin! Talk about a hard creature to photograph.
We saw more herons that anything else but seeing so many birds also meant that we had chances to take unique shots. It wasn't always easy... I've not done much photography from a kayak before. Zoom lenses and moving vehicles are not always great partners but I think at the end of the day, we managed to figure it out!
I've decided to give you birds as they show up in my bird book - by groupings! Let's begin with Gaviiformes:
Common Loon in winter plumage (Gavia immer)
And then onto Pelecaniformes:
Brown Pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis)
Brown Pelican grooming... love that beak!
Coming in for a landing! Check out those feet!
Check out the feathers on the wingtips.
Juvenile Double Crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)
Where's Waldo the Pelican amongst the Cormorants?
Shall we try Ciconiiformes?
Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)
Great Blue in flight.
One more in flight with a good view of wings.
Snowy Egret (Egretta thula)
Snowy Egret with more prominent crest.
Egrets as far as the eye can see!
White Ibis, immature (Eudocimus albus)
Osprey (Pandon haliaetus)
Somewhat fuzzy closeup - digital zoom is great but hard from a kayak
Cooper's Hawk (Accipiter cooperii) that we saw while walking on the beach.
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularia) or according to Matching Mole, maybe a Dunlin. Have an opinion?
Spotted Sandpiper Ruddy Turnstone; I just love how you can't see so much of his beak.
Willet (Catoptrophorus semipalmatus)
Marbled Godwit in winter plumage (Limosa fedoa) hangin' with the Spotted Sandpipers.
Marbled Godwits in flight.
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)
an unknown Gull... I have such a hard time with these guys.
Royal Terns (Sterna maxima) in winter plumage
Royal Terns and some perspective; we kayaked almost to the ocean.
Pretty sure this is a
juvenile Common Tern(Sterna hirundo) Juvenile Skimmer caught just above the kayak paddle. Lucky shot!
unknown Tern. Anyone have a clue? Matching mole says it's a Forster's Tern.
Terns in flight... one of the joys of kayaking is the ability to get under birds.
Sea birds from a distance, more terns, perhaps?
Male Belted Kingfisher (Ceryle alcyon)
Another male in profile.
Searching for prey, upstroke
And finally a single Passeriformes:
Female Red-winged Blackbirds... I just love the one on the left perching on two strands of grass at once.
And just a few scenic views:
Morning view of the beach from the viewing stand near the crabbing dock.
Just a glorious afternoon on the water.
Gorgeous sunset as seen from the crabbing dock