Posts Tagged ‘nature’

Wood Storks in My Backyard

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I saw a recent article in a Charleston newspaper proclaiming: “Wood Storks Stage Comeback.”  Apparently there are now over 150 breeding pairs in the Dungannon Plantation Heritage Preserve about 10 miles south of Charleston.  Now there are 40 pairs of Wood Storks that have established what may be the largest urban breeding colony in the region in Dill Sanctuary, on the Stono River on James Island, five miles from downtown Charleston.  Here’s a snippet from the article (which is no longer available online):

Incongruously, up close on the ground, the stork’s wrinkly head might be uglier than the macabre vulture it’s related to.

“It’s not a handsome bird,” said Andy Harrison, a member of Charleston Audubon.

Like the bald eagle, the stork has become a bellwether of the potential of preserving coastal environment as the Lowcountry develops. Its success gives conservationists hope for the return of fabled wildlife such as the whooping crane lost more than a century ago.

A generation ago, the stork bird had all but disappeared. An estimated 40,000 breeding pairs in the Southeast in 1930 were decimated by the loss of their nesting habitat and shallow feeding waters. In 1981, only 11 pairs were counted in South Carolina.

But recent counts put the number of wood stork pairs in the state at more than 2,000, the largest colony in the United States.

I feel fortunate to have had several of these magnificent (but admittedly UGLY!) birds visit our back yard over the past year.  Here is a picture I took from my office window of two of them that were having some “quality time” on the bank of the lagoon behind our house: (more…)

Little Blue Heron – Nature In My Back Yard

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Our family was biking through our neighborhood when I spotted a good-sized bird in the bushes between the road and a large lagoon.  Fortunately, I had my little pocket digital camera in my shorts pocket – a habit that I’ve found to pay big dividends for this blog!

I pedaled past, parked the bike, then snuck back around the bushes to get a better look – it was a Little Blue Heron!  I snapped a picture, then tried to ease my way closer to get a better shot – here is the result:

Little Blue Heron - Nature in My Back Yard

Little Blue Heron - Nature in My Back Yard

What a beautiful bird – and to think that most people driving by would never see or appreciate it!  What a wonderful place the Lowcountry is!

Turtles Stage Log-Rolling Competition

Monday, June 28th, 2010

It started as a peaceful summer afternoon in the lagoon behind our house: two Yellow-bellied Slider turtles relaxed on a floating log, enjoying the sunshine amid the languid waters.  But when a third turtle decided to join them, MAYHEM broke out – and the ensuing “Log-rolling Olympics” had the turtles scrambling to stay afloat!

Catch all the action here:


Mr. Bluebird on my … Rear-view Mirror?

Tuesday, June 15th, 2010

Every once in a while, the interactions between humans and nature produce some, er … unexpected results. Something as innocent as my neighbor leaving his truck parked in his driveway – nothing wrong with that, right? – can cause a seemingly harmless and innocent creature to fly into a rage.

When one thinks of an Eastern Bluebird, images of a beautiful, gentle bird come to mind. After all, they are bedecked in bright royal blue and orange colors, and often are set upon by their randy immigrant neighbors, the House Sparrows and the Starlings (both introduced from Europe), who compete with the Bluebirds for nesting holes in the neighborhood.

But perhaps some Bluebirds have had all they can stand and aren’t going to take it anymore!  At least this one seemed to be ready to defend his territory against all comers – even another “phantom” Bluebird!

Raccoon Shell-fishing – Nature in My Back Yard

Tuesday, May 4th, 2010

We have been trying to solve a mystery on the banks of the lagoon behind our house: where have all the empty freshwater mussel shells come from? These shiny shells (or rather, half-shells) started appearing a month or two ago.  At first we thought the American River Otters that frequent the lagoon had been doing a little shell-fishing on the side.  But we’d never actually seen them trying to pry one of the mussels open before.

Now we know!  The first time we saw the culprit, there were actually three of them – the local raccoons have developed quite a shellfishing technique!

(I actually was able to video the three of them in action, but then our “special needs” son decided that the SD card with that video on it was “old” and since it had no more room on it for additional video recordings, he pitched it in the garbage – can you spell A-N-G-R-Y?)

Fortunately, we managed to capture one of them recently back in action wading out into the lagoon, feeling around for a mussel, then bringing it back to shore and tearing it open for a delicious crustacean delight.  Quite a talent that they have developed!