Saturday, July 4, 2009

Tricolored Herons and an Anhinga at Pinckney Island NWR, SC

Birding on Hilton Head Island and Pinckney Island NWR…continued from Thursday’s post on the alligator.
On my second visit to Pinckney Island I was even more excited than the first. This time I knew what was there, and I also knew it was all good, so when I pulled off 278 and hit Happiness Way, exhilaration was what I was feeling. I couldn’t get to Ibis Pond fast enough and didn't even spend any time birding the parking lot area. On my first visit I had not seen any Tricolored Herons, so I assumed they weren’t nesting on the island, but what I didn’t know was I just hadn’t made it to their neighborhood yet. I started the day's trip by revisiting the Snowy Egrets and the Little Blue Herons (and checking for the alligator, who wasn’t there), and while I was standing there trying to decide should I go right or left, a Tricolored Heron coasted in over my head and landed about 20 feet to the right! (I LOVE this place!). I followed him over and found several Tricolored Herons hanging out together. Not too much squabbling, but every now and then a few males would let their presence be known with that funny, nasally moaning sound.

This sweet fellow led me directly to his nest and his mate.

These birds are gorgeous. They are so slim and trim, 
and their feathers are beautiful! 

Birdy bookends. In breeding season their bills are blue, but they
will fade to yellow as the end of the breeding season draws near.

The Tricolored Heron is the only dark heron with a white belly.

The little white topknot  feathers appear during 
breeding season. Such a stylish addition!

This little section of the island was home to a mix of Tricolored Herons, Little Blue Herons, Cattle Egrets, and of course, the ever-present Ibis. I wish I had written down a few more notes about this part of the island because I’m already starting to forget the little details, but I do remember one thing. With the click of that last photo, I backed right into a plant with lots of thorns -- small little razor-sharp thorns that ripped the skin as I tried to pull away and then stayed in the skin until I pulled them out. And…boy, oh boy did it bleed! Twenty-seven in all, at least they came out easily and didn’t hurt that much, but they left a big stinging sensation I didn’t like one bit. There’s nothing like seeing blood running down your leg to make you feel like a real birder. I hate to say it, but I kind of dug it, because it made me feel tough…like I was out in the wilds on my own surviving with just a compass and a camera. I had lens tissues in my little pack and after pulling out the thorns, used them with a little water to clean up the scratches. It seeped for a while, and I vaguely had thoughts of the possibility of poisonous thorns, but I soon forgot it as I noticed an Anhinga sitting on top of a tree. He was pretty far away (and the photos are poor), but I could still see the bare blue-green skin around his eye indicating he was in breeding season.





38 comments:

HBFG said...

How exciting! The blue on the Tri-colored Herons is so beautiful, you have so many interesting and exotic birds there!
Hope your leg didn't get infected...
HUGS

Phil and Mandy said...

Lovely coloured Herons Kelly, ours our mainly Grey.

Philip said...

Kelly such a stunning blue colour on that Bird very interesting indeed this is a great set of shots 10/10

Abe Lincoln said...

Beautiful birds. We have a green heron around don't we or is that something else I am thinking of?

Laure Ferlita said...

Outstanding, Kelly, just outstanding! And once again you've taught me something I didn't know. We tend to take Anhingas for granted around here. I had no idea about the blue skin around the eye! Thanks for sharing!

NatureStop said...

Great shots of the beautiful Tri-coloured herons.Haven't seen any here so far:)

Roy said...

Good job stalking, and great shots, Kelly! I've only ever seen a Tricolored once, and Anhingas never get up here, just their Cormorant cousins (both Double-Crested and Great).

Warren Baker said...

Smart looking herons Kelly. you really must be more carefull when out in the wilds! Good job the thorns weren't in your bottom! only a good friend could help you out there!!!

Roy said...

More amazing coloured species Kelly, are you sure you didn't go around with a spray can of paint ?? {:)
Great photos

ShySongbird said...

Oh goodness Kelly are you sure that place is real? I'm sure I enter a dreamlike state every time I 'visit' the Island with you ;) Beautiful photos, the Heron has amazing colours.

Belated (sorry!) good wishes for the 4th. :)

Kelly said...

Michi...leg was just fine. Washed it and put on some antibiotic ointment when I got back to the condo. The feathers on this guy are gorgeous. Such a variety on the island.

Phil...but your Grey Herons are pretty too. I like their feathers (but you're right...the blues in this fellow and the Little Blue Heron as well are striking).

Philip...thank you!! The birds make it easy, don't they? I don't know what I'm going to do when I have to go back to "regular" birds in Cincy who are not all lumped together for easy and exotic photographing! :-)

Abe...yes we do, but I never see them in near the numbers available on this island. Truly a birder's paradise, and I've never seen a Tri-colored here. They definitely like it hot!

Laure....I guess the blue skin around the eye isn't always there, so you might over look it. For me....seeing an Anhinga is amazing. We never see them up here in Cincy...

Nature...we don't have them where I live either. I guess I'll just have to go back there for another vacation to see them again! :-)

Roy...we get Double-crested Cormorants every now and then during migration, but they certainly aren't regulars!

Warren....I know...I know. I'm a bit accident prone. I really need to pay more attention to my surrounding and less attention to whatever I'm studying.

Roy....good idea. I can jazz up our Cincy birds a little for added late-summer interest!

Kelly said...

Songbird.....I know...I know!! How can it possibly be real? It is...and I don't know why more people haven't seen it. Thank goodness someone set aside the land and it's protected through our parks now.

Richard said...

Great pictures Kelly. I've never seen either of them.

Chris said...

Hi Tina,
Wow!!! The tri-colored heron is just, wow, fantastic!!! Its colors are awesome! I've never seen a heron so colorful... You are living in a magnificent area, with a lot of diversity! Lucky you! I love when you make us discover the beauty of mother nature around you!!! Thanks for sharing.

Tabib said...

Beautiful colour and your captured it digitally so nice.
We don't have that species here.

Wren said...

Great, great photos - I just love anhingas.

Kelly said...

Richard...thanks. We don't get them in Cincy either (sometimes Cormorants). They are such a treat for me to see.

Chris...and it's only 12 hours away by car. Wish there were a train I could hop to get there. I'd be on it all the time!

Tabib...thank you, but you get so many other spectacular birds!! Love them all...

Wren...thanks. I do too...seeing them swimming in the water like snakes, watching them fly, or perched drying their wings. Love them any way I can get them!

Tammie Lee said...

Oh my goodness, these herons hold the spirit of beauty and grace. I can feel your passion in your photos.

Cindy said...

These birds are gorgeous. Their coloring is fantastic. Great photos.

Betsy from Tennessee said...

Wow Kel---Even with all of the thorns and blood, I'm sure you LOVED every second of your visit back to the island. Those herons are some of the prettiest and most colorful birds I've seen. SO gorgeous.

I've never seen an Anhinga before. Quite unusaual. Once you run out of pictures to show us, you will have to go BACK!!!!

Hugs,
Betsy

holdingmoments said...

That Tri-colored Heron is an amazing looking bird. Every inch a beauty, and you've captured its beauty so well.
What an incredible place that is.

Midmarsh John said...

Such beautiful herons. Great photos of them Kelly. You are having some really good bird spotting expeditions there. The odd scratch one might expect but that episode with the thorny bush sounds painful.

mick said...

Lovely photos and descriptions. "Ouch" for the thorns!

Elaine said...

Oh, good, another beautiful day at Pinckney Island! I am so enjoying visiting there through your posts. I've got to agree with Songbird about entering a dreamlike state. It's just such an amazing place. The Tri-colored Herons are gorgeous. I love the little white topknot. The Anhinga is beautiful too. I hope you were able to get a closer shot later on. And I'm glad to hear that your wounds healed up well. It's amazing how our minds can block out pain when there is something really interesting to focus on. I can't wait to see what's up next.

Nature As Is said...

WoWWWWW Blue Herons Oh my goodness I want to come to your house for a slumber party and head out for days on end and go birding....so cool Kelly Great shots.

Chris Petrak said...

Little Blue is my favorite heron ... unless I happen to be looking at a Green ... unless I happen to be looking at a Tricolored ... unless I happen to be looking at a Yellow-crowned ... unless I happen to be looking at Little Blue ... unless ...

madahmas said...

Magnificent looking bird -the tri-colored Herons. Oh and an American Anhinga - looks different from the one I shot down here.

Randy Emmitt said...

Kelly,

Hey I'm from Cincy myself, but now live in NC. I remember when I first came down here and saw these birds too. Sorry about the thorny bush. I got hit by stinging ants on Friday and stinging nettle a few weeks before that. Enjoyed my visit.

Heather said...

Interesting, the Tricoloreds are more blue than the Great Blues! I find the change of coloring in bills to be a fascinating thing. Feathers are one thing - the bird can molt those. But to have the pigmentation in the bill change - that's amazing. And girl, you MUST be careful. I'm going to have to keep my eye on you in the Hocking Hills, I don't want you falling off any cliffs!

dAwN said...

Absolutely gorgeous photos Kelly..
wow you sure took some great photos on this trip!

Neil said...

The colours are just beautiful. Great photos.

Arija said...

You did get some beautiful birds and a little thorny adventure all in one go.
I love the colour of the Yti-Colour Heron, almost a peacock blue. They really are such veautiful birds.

Jayne said...

Holy cow Kelly! Those herons are amazing! I've never even heard of them. What colors!!!

Ouch... hope your legs are feeling better, you brave adventurer you! :c)

Ladynred said...

These are gorgeous birds! Love them!
http://ilovemyguineapigs.com

The Early Birder said...

Ouch..the pain of Pinckney! The intrepid explorer does it again with superb images of a stunning Heron. Well done Kelly.

yen said...

Tri-colored heron is gorgeous. There are quite of them there as well.Wow.

Love the color and the composition style.

Mary said...

What beautiful birds! All that blue is wonderful.

Chad said...

This past March I was able to go to Florida where I got my first Tri-colored Heron and Anhinga. The tri-colored Heron was awesome! They are very sneaky hunters too!