I hope everyone had a great New Year! I went to bed early last night so I could get up early to start this year doing my favorite thing on the planet – photographing wildlife. I had spent the last day and a half photographing at the beach and jetty, so today I tried for something a little bit different. I started off the morning at some freshwater ponds to see if I could have some luck with the ducks. There were quite a few ducks, but they weren’t coming anywhere close to the shore where I was. So I decided I’d be better off trying something else and headed towards the forests and fields. The first subject I had some luck with was a Northern Mockingbird.
After a few songbirds, I headed over to the saltmarsh. There were a couple of birds who were crying out for some glamour portraits. This Herring Gull was one who kept asking. Who am I not to oblige?
Huntington Beach State Park is great for photographing many different birds, but it is the best place I know of for Clapper Rails. I always see at least one Clapper Rail every day that I spend some time in the saltmarsh here. Clapper Rails are generally very difficult birds to photograph. They’re fairly common in saltmarshes all over the Atlantic and Gulf coasts, but they are usually heard and not seen. When they are seen, they are usually in a tangle of vegetation. They actually come a little bit out into the open at Huntington Beach. Here is one that I had a blast photographing. After I first saw it, it proceeded to bathe in front of me and stretch its wings before heading back into the cordgrass.
Right as I was about to leave the saltmarsh, a lone Brown Pelican flew over. These kind of opportunities are very easy to miss if you’re not expecting them. I wasn’t really ready this time, but had a bit of luck as it flew over long enough to enable me to get a photograph.
I had resisted it all morning long, but by the afternoon I gave in and headed to the beach. As expected, the beach was a bustle of activity. You won’t know it from the photographs, but today was windy and exceptionally cold for South Carolina. This and the holiday meant that nobody was at the beach which means more birds. This Ruddy Turnstone was one of the shorebirds who was scanning the water’s edge for tasty morsels.
I mentioned that it was cold and windy. The wind was strong that most of the birds weren’t out and about at the water’s edge. Instead most were in a large flock that had huddled together in the sand of the dunes for protection against the wind. The flock was mostly Dunlins and Semi-palmated Plovers like this bird. Most of the time they remained down into the sand, but from time to time they would adjust their position like this one was doing here.
I ended the first day of 2012 working with some great Bonaparte’s Gulls. Much of the time they were doing ‘walking on the waves’ routine. As it got later, they took a rest on the shore. This one opened up with one of the biggest yawns I have seen. It looks big in this photo, but it actually stretched its mouth much wider. The shots with its beak the widest looked a bit uncomfortable, so I settled on this one as my favorite of the yawn photos. I hope everyone enjoyed their start to the year – I definitely had a blast!