Monday, June 24, 2013

Juvenile Green Heron licking his chops...

This juvenile Green Heron was fun to watch. He would move slowly back and forth along a downed branch that hung over the mote at the Ibis Pond rookery on Pinckney Island in Hilton Head, SC looking for small fish. As he watched for his next morsel, he would lick his chops over and over. Those little fish must have tasted good! The video at the end of the post captures the action...

Juvenile Green Heron at the Ibis Pond Rookery on Pinckney Island in Hilton Head, SC
A juvenile Green Heron sees a fish swimming in the green waters below...

Juvenile Green Heron at the Ibis Pond Rookery on Pinckney Island in Hilton Head, SC
Baby plumes blowing in the breeze. Not many left...

Green Herons are stocky little herons. They always seem to have their necks pulled in.

Juvenile Green Heron watches a fish and gets ready to catch it.
...part of the fun of watching this juvenile Green Heron was watching his long toes curl around the branch as he walked slowly back and forth. Every move he made seemed to be deliberate, stealthy, and slow. 

"Bird's eye" view of this juvenile Green Heron as he watches fish swimming below. out, little fish.

Juvenile Green Heron Licking his Chops and Catching a Fish from Kelly Riccetti on Vimeo.

 I photographed this hungry little fellow last summer on June 12, 2012.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

A tennis-loving Killdeer couple sets up house...

Rick and Matty have been playing tennis at the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, OH for the past couple of weekends and in the evenings during the week. The first weekend in June, all three of us were volunteers at the Serving it Up for Special Olympics fundraiser, which was also held there. While all this activity was going on, a Killdeer couple decided the best place to nest was right in the middle of the action...

A Killdeer (Charadrius vociferus) stands over four eggs
If you look on the ground to the left of this sweet Killdeer, you'll see four speckled eggs. I had my long lens with me, so I was pretty far away, but people were walking all around this bird, not realizing four beautiful eggs were just off the sidewalk in the mulch. The Killdeer blended in so well, people didn't see the bird unless he or she started moving.

Killdeer often nest in suburban settings, but I've never seen one nest right in the center of a major tennis complex! The managers of the facility are very careful and protective of their nesting birds, and the gardeners know to stay away from the nest, so the eggs can hatch.

Close-up of Killdeer eggs and a nest scraped into the mulch.
...a closer look at the well-camouflaged eggs. If you didn't know they were there, you would never see them. A Killdeer nest is just a scrape in the ground, or in this case, in the mulch alongside the sidewalk.

A Killdeer parent sitting on a nest tucked into a mulch bed alongside a sidewalk.
A Killdeer is a plover, and even though in Ohio suburbs they usually nest in open fields near a little gravel, they do like to be around water too...but I've never seen one hang out around a water sprinkler like this bird!

A Killdeer in a broken-wing display.
A nesting Killdeer wouldn't be a parent without a little broken-wing distraction display. While one bird sat on the nest, the other did a little flapping around looking like it was injured or had a broken wing. The ploy was a distraction to try to lure pedestrians away from the nest. 

A Killdeer in a broken-wing display.
...and it worked. The tennis players watched the "injured" bird  and stayed away from the nest. Eventually the bird flew off after another miraculous recovery, knowing the eggs were safe.