Tuesday, June 23, 2009

A Great Egret at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge (near Hilton Head Island, SC)

Birding Hilton Head Island and Pinckney Island NWR…continued from Sunday's White Ibis post
I could have stayed in that sheltered little cove all day long just watching those leggy wading birds hunting and squabbling with each other. I also was becoming accustomed to the unique smell of that part of the rookery. You can't smell it up on high land, but down by the water, only feet from the island, a unique odor hangs in the air. After all, when over a thousand birds are nesting together and are eating a mix of fish and aquatic animal remains, you can expect something, but the odor wasn’t really that offensive—just unique. I kind of liked it because it was a totally new smell. At the heronry back home, I am so, so far away, probably at least a half mile, that I can’t smell anything. I had read about the unique fishy rookery smell, now I knew what they were talking about!

Just as I decided it was time to move on, a brother and sister climbed down to my little hideaway, so I left them there to enjoy the view and walked back up the small hillside. As I was walking, two older gentlemen came up and with huge smiles on their faces and said, "If you like it so far, wait until you get to the other side. There are easily a thousand birds on this little island." They also let me know Wood Storks were roosting on the other side of the pond in the pines. I was so excited. I came to Pinckney Island NWR looking for two life birds, Painted Buntings and Wood Storks. I couldn’t believe I was going to be able to see both on the same day. As I set off to find those Wood Storks, however, I quickly got sidetracked. There, not more than 25 feet away, was a beautiful Great Egret displaying his showy white plumes. The Wood Storks would have to wait. Who can resist a lime green eye mask (which will be fading soon as the breeding season ends) and spectacular fluffy white feathers...











39 comments:

dAwN said...

Wow..the egret photos are great!
Love the fringy plumage! Nice..

Kelly said...

Dawn....isn't that fringy plumage beautiful? ...so beautiful it almost got them wiped out at the turn of the century. Thank goodness those lovely Boston ladies stepped in to save them, starting the Audubon Society!

SAPhotographs (Joan) said...

That third shot is spectacular Kelly. WOW!! Well captured. I love that green breeding plumage too.

Elaine said...

Exquisite! The egret is so beautiful and your photos are absolutely wonderful! The third shot is stunning. Were you black and blue from pinching yourself to make sure you weren't dreaming every time you went around a corner and saw another spectacular sight?

Sue said...

These photos are so wonderful. I'm really enjoying the set.

Roy said...

Gosh Kelly, that Wood Stork, its like a bird of paradise. The lime green looks misplaced. Stunning bird.

the Baitlady said...

Kelly... Thank you for stopping over by my blog. I'm returning the visit; but this time I brought along my coffee pot! I think I'm on my third cup already!! You're a wonderful story teller. I almost felt as if I was there with you at Pinckney Island. I enjoyed your post and photos. Have a great day!~mel

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
This is a fantastic series!!! Woow the plumage is magnificent and you captured it very well. What a chance you got to see it!! Well done.

Laure Ferlita said...

O.U.T.S.T.A.N.D.I.N.G!!!!!! So very, very beautiful, Kelly!

Jayne said...

Oh my Kelly!! Wow. He needs to be in NatGeo, truly. Amazing shots! :c)

Kelly said...

Joan, Elain and Sue...thank you! When he fluffed up those tail feathers I about fell over. In real life he was even more beautiful.

Roy....you're right. The lime green on the Great Egret totally catches you off guard. He's so dignified and then to see the ultra-wow lime green around his eyes...it's surprising!!

Baitlady...Wow! Three cups of coffee (that's an honor!!). Thank you very much for your kind comments! :-)

Chris...I loved every minute of it. I got to see him the next time I was there, but he didn't go showy with his plumes that time, so I was lucky I caught them this time! Thank you!

Thank you very, very much Laure!! :-D

Jayne....thankee, thankee...he did all the work. I really miss that place. It made bird photography easy. They all stood there and posed for you practically!!

ShySongbird said...

WOW!! Amazing photos of an amazing bird, I really loved the third one where it looked like it was pretending to be a Peacock ;) It never ceases to fascinate me how such large birds balance in trees! What an absolutely magical place to visit Kelly.

Roy said...

Great shots! We have lots of Great Egrets up here this time of year, but I've been paying more attention to the Snowy Egrets lately because they seem to be friendlier this year, and the Great Egrets seem to have reversed position with the Snowies and have gone aloof on me.

BTW, the green stripe is a mating signal; it'll fade soon.

Kelly said...

Songbird...so true. Big birds with long legs just don't seem to fit in trees, but they do just fine! These trees aren't quite as tall as the Sycamores back home...a totally different feel.

Roy...I have some Snowy's coming up but couldn't capture one in as spectacular of a display. I can't wait to see your photos of them. I love a Snowy's little golden slippers...

Connie said...

I tried to chose my favorite photo and I simply couldn't. They are all great photos.

Abe Lincoln said...

These are just magnificent creatures. I think they are a photographer's dream.

I suppose the starlings might be suffering from a lack of something in their diet to make them brownish. Or, they is something in their genes going on.

Cathy B. said...

Beautiful pictures and fantastic bird: strange plumage!

Kelly said...

Connie, Abe and Cathy....thank you! The plumes are strange and beautiful. It is fun to photograph them...then throw in that lime-green eye patch, and it turns it up another notch!

Shellmo said...

Such beautiful wing displays you captured!! I think that egret was showing off its best sides for you! :-)

Kelly said...

Shelley...it seemed like it. He went through all of his poses. The next day he wasn't quite as showy, so I was in the right place at the right time!

Warren Baker said...

You seem to have a lot of Egret / heron species over there Kelly. All lovely birds. Well photographed too!

JKoenig said...

Breathtaking......is the only way to describe those pictures!

Jenny said...

Cracking shots Kelly. I agree with most comments that the third shots is a stunner. I like the fourth one very much too. I can't wait till you get to the Wood Storks then!!! (-:

Craig Glenn said...

Those are great shots Kelly! They are such beautiful birds.

Craig

Uncommon Depth said...

Magnificent shots worthy of the beauty of this bird.

Marie-Monique said...

Les photos sont vraiment superbes, l'aigrette est absolument majestueuse ! je découvre ton blog, il m'enchante... à bientôt

holdingmoments said...

Kelly, these are superb pictures. And I totally agree; that third is a stunning capture. Just perfect.

So many birds in one place; I wouldn't know where to start, or ever want to leave.
A memorable experience.

yen said...

the 3rd photo is amazing.

Tabib said...

Wow!, I love that 3rd pic

Heather said...

Dang Kelly, I don't know what to say. Those birds... those photos... amazing! That refuge in and of itself must have been a sensory overload with all those birds! Did you get to spend more than one day birding at that location?

Nick S said...

Lucky you Kelly ! These are lovely shots of a bird Ive yet to see !

Midmarsh John said...

Beautiful photos of a beautiful bird, Kelly.

Kallen305 said...

Kelly, your photos have gotten incredible lately. They were always good, but now they are jaw dropping! Have you gotten a new camera lately or just been practicing? Gorgeous!

Rene said...

Pinckney Island looks and sounds incredible! Thanks for sharing. It's definitely on my list of places to visit now.

Andy Wilson said...

Wonderful photos!

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Kelly. God I envy you. Wood Storks, and Great White Egrets together. You lucky lady. Nice photo's again.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Hi Kelly, That Great White Egret is amazing. He really posed for the camera, didn't he???? WOW!!!!!

I am enjoying seeing your pictures SO much. You truly had a wonderful trip.

Hope you are staying COOL up there in Cincy.. It's hot here--but not as bad as last weekend.

Love you my friend,
Betsy
P.S. Still no hummers!!! Sigh!

The Early Birder said...

Wow...what can I say...just FABULOUS.

Mary said...

Those feathers are so gorgeous! Lovely, lovely bird!