Birding Notes

Reflections on birds and other wildlife on the edge of a southern woodland

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Wood Stork, Gull-billed Tern and Other Activity Around Marsh Ponds

In addition to the Black-necked Stilts and Ospreys, many other birds were active around the Willet Pond and Ibis Pond on Kiawah. Clate got some amazing photographs – the best part of these postings by far! Click here to see a slide show.

Four Wood Storks soared overhead and then flew in to wade in shallow water with Great Egrets, foraging for small fish and other prey. Two Glossy Ibis foraged on the far edge of the Willet Pond, too far away to see their dark blue-green and rust-colored plumage well, though their shapes and long down-curved bills were distinctive. Twice I saw a fairly large, rufous-orange bird fly up out of the grass and back down again, so warmly colored I think it must have been a King Rail.

Snowy Egrets, with their bright yellow “golden slippers;” Tricolored Herons in blue-gray and white, with a thin ribbon of orange down the throat and neck and hints of purple and mauve; and at least one Little Blue Heron foraged in open areas of shallow water. Many Red-winged Blackbirds sang and flashed the colors in their wings, and an Orchard Oriole – with handsome chestnut-red body and black hood – perched in the top of a shrub and whistled a clear, musical song.

Two Green Herons stalked in the grass and shrubs near the edge of the water. Lots of Laughing Gulls flew over and all around us, perched on the rail of an observation deck, and dove down to fish, and three or four Royal Terns flew by.

Four Least Terns were among the most fun to watch, fluttering, hovering and diving into the water. These small, graceful terns are considered species of concern because the sandy beaches they need for nesting habitat are also increasingly popular and heavily used for recreation.

We also saw this beautiful Gull-billed Tern flying over the Ibis Pond. I’m not familiar enough with terns to be completely sure of the identification, but its size, coloring and rather heavy, all-black bill were distinctive. If any readers could let me know, I’d be very interested to confirm if I’ve correctly identified it. (Click on the image for a larger view.)


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