Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Snowy Egrets (and an alligator) at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge (Near Hilton Head, SC)

Birding on Hilton Head Island and Pinckney Island NWR...continued from Tuesday's post on Little Blue Heron chicks.
Living right next door to our lovely Little Blue Heron family was a Snowy Egret family. The male Snowy Egret was climbing carefully along a limb until he found the perfect perch and slowly wrapped his yellow-slippered feet around the branch. Looking around, he displayed and fluffed his gorgeous snowy feathers. 






About three branches over in the crook of the tree, his mate was seated on her nest. Every now and then she would stand up and stretch, revealing a clutch of three white eggs.




The male Snowy Egret stayed where he was, studying the bright green water below. I assumed he was looking for fish, but maybe he was looking at something else. Only six feet away and four feet down, a bumpy brown log with unblinking eyes sat waiting.



33 comments:

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Oh how I love to see Snowy Egrets, Kell. I was so interested to read in your previous post about the baby blue heron being white ---and that he/she fit right in with the Egrets. Neat!!!! I'm learning so much from you.

Hope you have a good 4th... Any big plans?
Love,
Betsy

Roy said...

Ah, I love Snowies! I could live without the 'gator, though. Great shots!

Kelly said...

Betsy....Matty's birthday was today, but we're going to have a big party at my house for the 4th to celebrate his birthday as well....my parents, family...Mary and Ron are coming up from...your neighborhood! :-)

Roy.......that gator scared the dickens out of me (and I don't even really know what that means). I wasn't expecting him as I tried to see what Snowy saw! :-)

NatureStop said...

Nice set of images.The Snowies look so clean and WHITE:)Guess the alligator was not a welcome sight.

Kelly said...

...NatureStop.....well....he has very sharp teeth, and we don't have them in Cincy, so I'm not used to them. Needless to say, I kept my distance. I just hope the babies from the nests above don't fall. I'm sure he would have them in a flash! Thanks!

yen said...

love the snowy egret and very long and nice plumes on the nape too.

the lurking croc ...looks cunning.

Elaine said...

You've been keeping me enthralled with the story of your marvelous day at Pinckney Island. I imagine that gator managed to keep your feet on the ground though, and probably had your heart beating as hard as all the wonderful birds did! The Snowy Egrets are as beautiful as all the rest of the birds. I love the yellow-slippered feet!

Sue said...

Beautiful photos. And I love the egrets yellow "sneakers"! Very flashy feet-LOL.
I could do without the alligator-scary!

Abe Lincoln said...

I realized that last picture is an alligator. Yikes.

Laure Ferlita said...

I wondered if you had encountered any gators on your visit. That area is prime hunting land for those critters. Nature does have a harsh side as well.

Beautiful shots!

Jayne said...

Hoping that gator was not just below that nest? Great photos Kelly!

Rob Ripma said...

Oh wow, you have posted so many great shots from your trip. I would have to say that my favorite of all your shots is the first one of the Snowy Egret in this post.

So awesome to see him show off all of those beautiful feathers!

Kelly said...

yen...The Snow is such a small heron and all the more spectacular when he fluffs up. The gator a stark contrast to their fluffy white.

Elaine.....yes, ma'am! When I saw that gator (and the way he was so well camouflaged) I wondered where his mama was. I started looking even more carefully in the moat of Ibis Pond for them.

Sue...their little yellow slippers are definitely eye catchers--that gator was too! :-) I'm sure people who live there are so used to alligators they think of them as squirrels, but to me, they are very big...with very sharp teeth.

Abe.....he was hidden under the weeds and algae. At first he really just looked like a log, but just a bit too wide. Then...realization dawned...yikes!

Laure.....and although they will get some unsuspecting chicks, they keep the island free of raccoons and other predators (humans!), so they are almost like guards.

Jayne....he was about six feet to the right of the nest in a sunny clearing. I'm sure he had his eye on those baby Little Blues!

Kelly said...

...thanks, Rob. The snowy feathers were just so light and fluffy...and delicate. He was a show stopper for me as well. I am going through exotic displaying bird withdraw. I want to go back so badly to experience the heat...the sounds...the smells.... There was just a lot down there.

ShySongbird said...

Great photos Kelly, but that alligator...wow, it really did look like a log!

Shellmo said...

The pure white just shines from these Egrets - they are so beautiful! You got so many nice shots. I would be scared of that Alligator - hope none of the egrets become its lunch!!

holdingmoments said...

Love that first shot Kelly; what a beautiful bird he is.
Don't think I'd fancy stumbling across an alligator though. Glad we don't have them here. :)

Kelly said...

Songbird, Shelley and Keith.........I know. He was a bit scary. I don't know how aggressive the alligators are to humans (but I would think a small child or a dog could be in danger). I would hate to fall in that moat. I wonder how many more were there? I don' know how much territory they require. Considering this guy was so well camouflaged, I might have missed another!

Chris said...

Hi Kelly,
Wow, you are living in a fantastic area! So many bird species, and other big animals... This alligator shot is wonderful, but I hope you were not too close :-)
Fantastic post as usually...

Roy said...

Lovely Egrets photos Kelly.
Not keen on the log though.

Ken Browne. said...

Hi Kelly. You have captured the Snowy Egret just right especially in the 1st photo, but I like the one of the Egret sitting on the nest best as it shows off it's wonderful eye in great detail.Well done.

Andor Marton said...

Beautiful shots. I love the egrets and herons. I find them very elegant and sophisticated.

Kyle said...

Wonderful shots of the expectant couple, Kelly! I especially like that first one, tho. I love Snowies, but rarely get anywhere near that close to them.

Watch out for them 'gators! :-)

Adrienne in Ohio said...

Oh, I think the alligator would have ruined the outing for me. What did you do?

The photos of the egrets are wonderful! Seems like you hit the jackpot at this place, Kelly. I can understand why you want to go back!

Kelly said...

Chris....actually, I was too close. I was down at the bank where the grass meets the water when I noticed him. I quickly backed up and kept my distance!

Roy...thanks...and I'm with you about the log...

Ken...thank you. I also like that shot. The mama looked so beautiful on the nest...tucked back in the limbs in the shade.

Andor...thank you. I think they are elegant too. The Snowy's especially so because of their diminutive size.

Kyle....anywhere else, I've never been this close. It totally spoils you birding here. I'll never be satisfied just seeing one or two at a distance again! :-)

Adrienne...definitely hit the jackpot here, and I still have a few more species to go through! Well...the gator sort of spooked me, but then I got used to him. However....I know they can come out of water, and can run pretty fast, but I think he was waiting for a few baby chicks to fall in....

nina at Nature Remains. said...

What wonderful pictures, Kelly.
But be careful, dear, there's an alligator about to snap you up!
:-)

Kelly said...

Nina.... :-) We're not used to sharp-toothed creatures staring back at us from the water! Thank goodness the alligators don't head north for the summer. It would make sloshing around in creeks very scary.

Bird Girl said...

Oh wow! These pictures are so exciting to me!! YOU are a wonderful photographer!
I'm going to be in Hilton Head in February and I hope to see a bit of what you are seeing!
Any advice?
Thanks for you comment on my blog :-)

Kelly said...

BirdGirl....well, the winter birding in Hilton Head is supposed to be fantastic!! So you'll be there at a good time. I'll send you some of the info I found. I have so much more to post...I'm going to condense it down a bit. It will be interesting to hear about your winter birding there!!

JKoenig said...

Kelly, the birds you saw on your trip just get more and more beautiful. However, the alligator--I'm not sure about him. I mentioned to my husband that I would love to go to Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge on vacation sometime, but I'm not sure he would go if he knew about the alligators.

Hope you have a beautifuly holiday weekend.

Kelly said...

JK....you need to go. Just don't walk down near the water. He didn't move, and I've not read of anyone being attacked. You'll be fine! :-)

dAwN said...

Howdee Kelly.
We saw our share of alligators in Florida..no way to avoid them..luckily they wanted nothing to do with us..
but i know how it sometimes feels creepy..
Love your pics..and what a great trip..
Cute cute cute Snowy egrets!!!!!!!
LOL

Kelly said...

Dawn...they are CUTE, aren't they? :-) He didn't seem to want anything to do with me either. I think he was too busy hoping one of the chicklets would fall in!