A friend asked me what do you do as a wildlife photographer today. So I told him what I did today. I stared at holes – for hours. And nothing came out of the holes. Gopher Tortoises used to be all over the coastal plain of South Carolina. This area was dominated by a longleaf pine ecosystem. Nowadays, this ecosystem is nearly gone – usually replaced by loblolly pine. Longleaf pine ecosystems require fire to persist – without the fire, loblolly comes in. Well the story goes further. Gopher Tortoises live in longleaf pine forests. Without many of these forests left, the tortoises are severely endangered in South Carolina. Today I went to one of the best places to see the tortoises in hopes of seeing one. I found many active burrows and did see a young tortoise that climbed back into its burrow. So I sat a distance from one of the larger burrows waiting in hopes that the tortoise would come out. It didn’t. Spring is a better time by far for this, but I wanted to give it a try. The good news is there were quite a few burrows. The bad news is that this longleaf pine forest is pretty small, so although it is dense, the population of tortoises is pretty small. While waiting for the tortoise, I did photograph this young grasshopper nymph.