Thursday, December 27, 2012

Thanksgiving in Florida Nets Us 6 Life Birds -- Part 1

          OK, I will confess bluntly that Carl and I have never been fans of Florida.  To us, it was a ruined landscape -- an endless line of strip malls and hotels marring what would be the most beautiful parts of the state.  Hey, when you live in this glorious paradise here -- our SC Lowcountry -- other places often simply disappoint.  Well, that was  BEFORE we were birders.  This Thanksgiving, Carl and I just spent our first vacation in Florida as birders.  And so, speaking for myself, I can say that I am now changing my tune!  In fact, I am now quite eager for a return trip!  And it will not be just for the birds either as we had a quite a fun time with the family, too!  But with this blog being about nature, that is what I will share here -- the birds!

Tampa Skyline from Boyd Hill Nature Preserve in St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

            What we did not know before was that hidden by the strip malls and hotels along its over-developed coastlines, many Florida counties and cities have beautiful, expansive parks and nature preserves.  Carl and I began to learn this even before our departure as we used resources sent by sister Chris (thank you,Chris!) and the online program eBird to plan our birding quests.  Knowing that Florida afforded us the opportunity to add some new birds to our life lists, we specifically began to investigate species available in Pinellas County at this time of year on eBird.  To make a long story short, we found some excellent life bird candidates in our research and some very birdy locations to explore right in the St. Petersburg area -- our destination for the family holiday. Thus, the research paid off!   During our stay, we made three birding excursions and got 2 life birds on each, plus some great bonus birds.   I also built a Florida list up to 94 species, landed on the eBird Rare Bird Alert 3 times and worked my way up to 72nd birder in the top 100 eBirders for Pinellas County!   In this 3-part post series, I will highlight our 6 life birds and a few of the special bonus birds.  This post, Part One, covers our first day of birding.

        Our first day, Wednesday, we set out towards the Boyd Hill Nature Preserve.  We knew from our eBird research that Limpkins had been seen here recently.  As we were driving by Lake Maggiore (part of the preserve) towards the official  entrance, Carl spotted a Roseate Spoonbill nicely posed against the marsh.

Roseate Spoonbill -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

So we pulled off the road, and lo and behold, right behind the lovely Roseate Spoonbill, perched up high on the marsh, was a Limpkin!  --- Life Bird No. One of the trip!  This was just too easy!

Limpkin -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012
In this preserve, we found another Limpkin and this beautiful Red-Shouldered Hawk, who, it would seem, owned the place.  He never flushed from his perch over the path as we approached and passed under him, allowing us wonderful close-up views and great photo ops!

Red-Shouldered Hawk -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

Red-Shouldered Hawk -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

        Then, there was this wonderful, bright fellow.

Art in the Park! -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

He was subsequently joined by this anhinga.

Anhinga -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

Statue and bird -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012
Statue and Anhinga -- 
       We soon noted that the statues scattered throughout the park were all constructed with recycled metal!  The armadillo below was made of various car parts!

Carl and the Armadillo -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012
          In the pine flatwoods area, I heard, but did not see the now familiar sound of a Red-Breasted Nuthatch.  (My regular readers will remember the post in which I reported this species first arrival to our yard this Fall -- the pair has taken up residence!).  My report of this bird landed on the Rare Bird Alert for Florida! 

         Here are a few additional photos from this wildlife rich park.

Wood Stork and Little Blue Heron -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

Little Blue Heron -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

Belted Kingfisher -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

Belted Kingfisher -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

Anhinga -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

Orange-Crowned Warbler -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

A "White-washing" Wood Stork -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

Another view of Tampa from the park -- Boyd Hill Nature Preserve -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

         By late morning, Carl and I had accumulated 38 species and the woodland birds had quieted.  We were ready for a new destination --  the reportedly premier birding site for Pinellas County -- Fort De Soto Park.  Over 328 species have been documented in 60 years in this park.  Recent eBird reports had revealed sightings of a Long-Billed Curlew and some Magnificent Frigatebirds.  In order to arrive at Fort De Soto, we would drive through the community of Tierra Verde.  A decent-sized flock of Ring-Necked Ducks and Redheads had been recently reported  in a pond along the roadside.  As we drove  through Tierre Verde, I was scanning the ponds that we were passing. Suddenly, Carl caught sight of 5 very large, dark birds with forked tails and cormorant-like beaks circling low, but rising, over a pond -- 5 Magnificent Frigatebirds -- Life Bird No. Two of our trip!  We came to a screeching halt, lept from the car and caught these images.  Wow!  Again, that was simply too easy!

Magnificent Frigatebirds -- Tierra Verde, FL -- November 21, 2012

Magnificent Frigatebird -- Tierra Verde, FL -- November 21, 2012

           As these great birds climbed in the sky and began circling away, we turned our attention to the ponds.  There they were --  the large flock of Ring-Necked Ducks and Redheads, as reported!

Ring-Necked Ducks and Redheads -- Tierra Verde, FL -- November 21, 2012

           After photographing these lovelies, we continued to our next destination -- Fort De Soto.  We knew that we would not have alot of time there as we were commissioned to be back at sister Chris' house to greet Carl's parents when they arrived from Tennessee.  Nonetheless, in the short time that we did spend in the park, we learned quickly what a birding mecca it was.  First, just crossing over the bridge into the park area, we saw numerous shorebirds and other water birds along the docks, the bridge and the bay.

American White Pelicans seen in Tampa Bay looking back towards St. Petersburg from Fort De Soto Park              November 21, 2012

American White Pelicans -- Tampa Bay, FL -- November 21, 2012

We decided to bird a bit at the bridge as the rails were lined with a variety of birds -- Wood Stork, Great Egret, Herring Gulls, and a Great Blue Heron -- waiting on a handout from the fishermen on the bridge.

Great Egret watching the fishermen on bridge to Fort De Soto -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

Herring Gull on bridge to Fort De Soto -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

Sadly, the fishermen, past and present, seemed to be more concerned with fishing than the environment.  The bridge walkway was covered with trash in which many of the birds took an interest. 

Herring Gull investigating the trash left on the bridge -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

Some other birds seen from the bridge included Sandwich Terns and Snowy Egrets.  We also noted a number of shorebirds and gulls along the docks at the boat landing in the park and made a mental note to check out in the future.

Sandwich Tern -- Fort De Soto Park -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

Snowy Egret -- Fort De Soto -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

        We were running short on time but we continued into this large park nonetheless.  The birding from the road itself was spectacular.  The number of Ospreys, American Kestrels and Loggerhead Shrikes stunned us!  The Ospreys are everywhere throughout the county but in this park, the American Kestrels seemed to alternate with Loggerhead Shrikes perched on the wires along the roadside. 

One of many Loggerhead Shrikes  -- Fort De Soto -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

          A phone call from the parents informed us that they were still a couple of hours away.  Nonetheless, Carl and I decided to leave this park and bird in another park much closer to the house in order to be able to time our arrival with the parents' arrival.  Thus, we headed to our next destination -- Boca Ciega Millennium Park.   This park offers a boardwalk along the shore close to the mangroves and through some wooded areas.  It also has a 35 foot observation tower.  Upon arrival, our first find was this handsome Osprey eating his fish in a pine over the parking lot.

Osprey enjoying a dish -- Boca Ciega Millennium Park -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

           The afternoon sun shone harshly on the westward facing boardwalk which did not help us to obtain any decent landscape shots.  We saw multiple Black Vulture and Turkey Vultures overhead.  Certain areas were very birdy with woodland birds and others were fairly quiet.  We delighted in this nicely posing American Goldfinches who responded with curiosity to my phishing.

American Goldfinch -- Boca Ciega Millennium Park -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

American Goldfinches -- Boca Ciega Millennium Park -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

The Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers seemed to dominate the flocks but were difficult to photograph.   Just as we finished counting birds at the end of the boardwalk, the phone rang.  The parents had nearly arrived.  We had just enough time to capture this contemplative Great Blue Heron before departing to enjoy the holiday with family.

Great Blue Heron -- Boca Ciega Millennium Park -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 21, 2012

             What an incredible day!  Carl and I are still awestruck by the ease with which we had obtained our 2 new life birds -- the Limpkin and the Magnificent Frigatebird -- and the superb opportunities for good birding afforded by the beautiful natural areas around the densely populated St. Petersburg.  This vacation birding saga will continue with our post Thanksgiving Day birding excursion in Part Two -- a return to the phenomenal Fort De Soto Park and our birding excursion side trip on our return home in Part Three -- a trip to a park for a Florida specialty bird!  More to come soon!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

The "Mystery Bird" Revealed!

"Mystery" Bird
          In my last post, I presented the "Mystery Bird" above and challenged the readership to identify it.  I did not know if this would be an easy or difficult challenge and I gave no more clues than the photo itself.  Some comments were posted on the blog but most responses came in the form of personal e-mails or in conversation at the Charleston Natural History Society's (aka Charleston Audubon) annual holiday oyster roast.  The guess of "willet" was retracted.  A non-birding friend offered up "Robin" and giggled.  Most others said Marbled Godwit.  One of those observed, "but the legs are not right for a Marbled Godwit." Two fellow birders did correctly, albeit hesitantly, identify the bird!  And for a couple more, the correct answer was their second choice, with Marbled Godwit being their first guess. 

           I had intended to reveal the identity in a post about our Thanksgiving trip to St. Petersburg, Florida -- our first trip to Florida as birders!  (Ah HA!  Another clue, perhaps!)  I have indeed been working on that post but I have found that I have too much to say and the BIG REVEAL might have been lost in the middle of a long, but interesting (of course) tale of our 3 birding excursions and 6 life birds!  Yes, the "Mystery Bird" was a life bird!  (Ah, another clue for those of you know that in SC Marbled Godwits are relatively easy to see).  Finally, if I am going to present a teaser in one post, then perhaps the answer merits a post of its own as well.  So, drum roll please! -- Here is our Mystery Bird REVEALED -- Life Bird no. 334 for me! -- no. 4 of 6 on this Florida trip! -- complete with his very long and useful bill -- the lovely .....

Long-Billed Curlew -- Fort De Soto Park -- St. Petersburg, FL -- November 23, 2012

........ Long-Billed Curlew!    Congrats to Pam F. and to Paul N. who correctly determined the bird's identity!!!

      In a happily timed coincidence, the American Bird Conservancy named the Long-Billed Curlew as its "Bird of the Week" on Friday, December 7 -- allowing me to provide you with a link on its range and conservation status.  You can learn more about this species also from this Audubon species account.  

        Carl and I were thrilled to see it and to be able to photograph this very willing and unperturbed subject.  You will learn more about our encounter with this largest of all shorebirds in Part 2 of the upcoming 3-part series on our Thanksgiving trip to Florida -- 6 life birds in 3 birding excursions in the St. Petersburg, Florida area.  Wow!  Stay tuned! 

Saturday, December 8, 2012

A Mystery Bird For Birding Fans!

Mystery Bird

         Hello everyone!  Carl and I saw this "Mystery" Bird over our Thanksgiving holiday.  Some of you, among our friends, family and correspondents will already know what it is due to recent exchanges, and thus, you may sit there feeling smug, enjoying this little tidbit.  The mystery is for the rest of you who may not have heard about out Thanksgiving holiday birds.  I believe that the most expert among you will know in a heartbeat what it is.  So go for it!  Please comment below or send me an e-mail:!  I am very interested in knowing how easy, or not, this bird is to identify!  The answer will be revealed in the next blog post which I will publish in a few days.  Have fun!

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Interesting Yard Birds This Weekend -- Sunday, December 2, 2012

         Friday evening, I had read David Gardner's post to the Carolina Bird Listserve on his observation of a Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker on Seabrook Island eating Yaupon Holly berries.  He had never seen this bird eating fruit before.  Nor, had I.  We are all so much more familiar with this bird's ingestion of sap (and insects caught in the sap) seeping from the holes that it drills in trees.  Several members of the listserve responded to his post about what kinds of fruit they had seen this species eating.  The list includes parsimmons, poison ivy berries, sumac berries, cedar tree berries, firethorn berries and crabapples!  Then, yesterday, Carl called my attention to the Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker below eating the berries off of the backyard Magnolia!  He had never seen this species eating berries either.

Yellow-Bellied Sapsucker consuming magnolia berries -- Parc Perlère -- James Island, SC -- December 1, 2012

         So I decided to do a little research on this species' fruit-eating habits.  Generally, this bird's diet includes sap, insects, inner bark, cambium layers, seeds and fruits (Walters 2002).  Interestingly, a study (Beal 1911) in which the stomach content of 313 specimens was examined, revealed  that generally 50.7% of the food matter was plant material and the other 49.3% was animal material.  Of the plant material consumed, 28.1% was fruit -- except in the month of November, when it was discovered that fruit represented 71.3% of the diet!  Ta DA!  This is perhaps why we are observing  now our Yellow-Bellied Sapsuckers eating fruit.  That is what they are eating right now!  Why?  I could not find any research that addressed that but probably it ties into what is readily available for the birds during this season. Perhaps, the fruit diet also helps them to build of fat reserves for the colder weather to come. 

         Our next interesting bird of the weekend happens to be our yard bird no. 107!  -- a Hermit Thrush!  Just yesterday, I was feeling a little bird envy when my friend Francie told me about her yard bird Hermit Thrush overwintering chez elle.  This morning at 7 am, I opened the office window to listen to the birds.  I immediately heard among the Carolina Wrens, White-Throated Sparrows and Chipping Sparrows, the unmistakable chup, chup of a Hermit Thrush coming from the brush across the creek .  Feeling certain it was a Hermit Thrush, I nonetheless checked the call against a recording on the internet.  Yes, it was the same.  I also double-checked my yard list on eBird!  Yes, this was going to be no. 107!  Hooray!  I still had not yet seen the bird but I was adding it to my eBird list when Carl woke up.  Quite frankly, I was not sure that I would find the bird in that low light.  I pointed out the continuing chup, chup, chup to Carl and told him "Hermit Thrush -- Yard Bird no. 107!"  Carl decided to find the bird.  So he went outside and sat low to the ground examining the bushes on the other side of the creek.  Suddenly, our bird popped up on top of the fence and then up into the oak.  Carl called me and I attempted the photo.  Here he is -- our yard bird no. 107 -- Hermit Thrush -- against a backdrop of yellow-orange leaves!

Hermit Thrush -- Yard Bird
            Without a doubt, I love going on birding excursions.  Yesterday, I birded with birding buddies Francie, Keith & Merle at CawCaw Interpretive Center and it was wonderful!  My best bird of the day there was the Merlin.   Yet, I must also say that I love birding here at home -- especially when I can learn from the birds (and my internet resources!), take good photos, and add to my yard list!   

Beal, F. E. L. 1911. Food of the woodpeckers of the United States. U.S. Dep. Agric. Biol. Surv. Bull. 37. As reported in Walters, Eric L., Edward H. Miller and Peter E. Lowther. 2002. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

Walters, Eric L., Edward H. Miller and Peter E. Lowther. 2002. Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Sunday, November 25, 2012: Today I Saw ....

Male Ruddy Duck -- James Island, SC -- November 25, 2012

            Today, Sunday November 25, 2012, I saw my FIRST EVER Ruddy Duck?  No, better than that!  I saw my first ever BLUE-BILLED RUDDY DUCK -- in my neighborhood pond!   As a birder who first learned of this duck on a Christmas Bird Count, I had not known that the male of this species had a blue bill in breeding plumage.  I learned that later after studying the bird guides a bit more seriously.  I never really expected to see a blue-billed Ruddy Duck here in SC since they breed in the western half of the United States, Mexico, Cuba and even Europe -- but not here!  They simply winter here in the eastern half of the United States. 

Male Blue-billed Ruddy Duck -- James Island, SC -- November 25, 2012

            I was out for a vigorous walk without the camera when I spotted him.  I immediately returned to the house for the camera and for Carl.  What a great find!  He was the only Ruddy Duck on the pond among the Mallards, Hooded Mergansers and Wood Ducks.  I wonder how long he will stay.  Since I began birding, he represents the first observed Ruddy Duck for our neighborhood.

           During the winter months, we normally see a dark, slaty-colored bill on male and female Ruddy Ducks here in SC, such as in the photo below.

Ruddy Ducks -- Bear Island WMA, SC -- March 6, 2010

        What a great find this was for my last day of a fabulous Thanksgiving and Birding weekend!  I will be back to work tomorrow but I will be thinking about my next blog post about this Thanksgiving break spent with family and spent birding in Florida!  We have interesting numbers to share so stay tuned! 

Brua, Robert B. 2002. Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Picnic On The Beach -- Bottlenose Dolphin Strand Feed on Morris Island -- October 14, 2012

Morris Island front beach -- October 20, 2012

              Having grown up in the boating life, I always delight in an opportunity to go out in the boat with my brother Jimmy, particularly if it involves a trip to one of our favorite uninhabited barrier islands, a favorite haunt of my childhood.  Thus, Carl and I eagerly accepted Jimmy’s invitation to join him on a trip to Morris Island one beautiful Sunday afternoon in October.  Within 10 minutes of leaving the family dock on James Island, we entered into the mouth of Lighthouse Creek and were deciding where along the long expanse of beach to land when we spotted some dolphin splashing next to the beach.  Jimmy quickly turned the boat in that direction because we were excited at the prospect of viewing at close range the dolphin strand feeding.

             Daily strand feeding is a behavior particular to the subspecies of Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin of the creeks of coastal waters of South Carolina and Georgia.  Bottlenose dolphin in Mexico and Portugal also strand feed, but not daily like our local pods.  What is strand feeding?  Here is how it works:  In a extraordinary, well-coordinated maneuver, a pod of dolphins (one to six) will corral fish into a tight school and  herd them towards the beach or a mudflat.  Then, in a tight line, they will surge forward, creating a bow wave that pushes the fish up on the shore where they also land, always on their right sides!  There, they catch the fish flopping around on the bank before they slide or flip back into the water themselves.  When the mullet are running strong in the creeks in the fall, the dolphin will repeat this behavior multiple times in short intervals. Shore birds, gulls and waders, astutely watch the dolphins’ behavior and position themselves on the shore to also feed on the stranded fish.  One has to marvel at the teamwork and communication involved as these intelligent, clever creatures expertly time their surge!  Watching them is an exciting, happy event for me!  For more information on these and other feeding behaviors of our local dolphin, I recommend this article, "Dinner is Served" from the 2012 March -April edition of SC Wildlife magazine.  The National Geographic video below also shows in detail how the dolphin accomplish this feat.

              I have been wanting an opportunity to improve upon my strand feeding photos taken 2 years ago in nearly the same location on Morris Island.   Unfortunately, I was not close to the event.  No, indeed, I was on the other side of the inlet on Folly Island.  My long lens did capture it but the quality of the photos was compromised by the distance.  Back in my pre-blogging days, my good friend, birding buddy and fellow nature-lover, Judy Fairchild asked to use my photos in a post for her Dewees Island Blog.  I was quite happy to be able to share this adventure.  You can see her write-up and my photos here.  Thank you Judy for a great post!

              I was thrilled to attempt some photos at closer range.  Jimmy rushed the boat to a point which was within good range but not so close as to disturb the pod from their action.  Funny thing, the dolphin were stranding right next to another boat already beached and right in front of the boat’s owners.  Though we did see the pod perform the strandings a few more times, these first shots from the boat are the best of the day!   

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin -- Morris Island, SC -- October 20, 2012

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin strand feeding -- Morris Island, SC -- October 20, 2012

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin -- Morris Island, SC -- October 20, 2012

             Though I am pleased with the results of this photographic effort, I have seen better and so I still aspire to do better.

            Once we landed, the dolphin pod appeared to have stopped fishing for awhile so Jimmy took off on his bike and Carl and I started to explore the inlet area before heading to the front  beach.  I lagged behind hoping that the dolphin would come back.  Sure enough, I turned to look back to see a single dolphin “following” me.  So I turned to watch his approach as he paralleled closely the shore.  I hoped to see another dolphin because I did not expect a solo dolphin to attempt strand feeding.  I was wrong though.  I watched this guy surge and corral to create his effective bow wave pushing up the fish.

One Bottlenose Dolphin surging  -- Morris Island, SC  -- October 20, 2012

One Bottlenose Dolphin surging -- Morris Island, SC -- October 20, 2012

Mullet pushed towards the beach by one Bottlenose Dolphin -- Morris Island -- October 20, 2012

When he stranded solo though, he did not appear to catch any fish.

Bottlenose Dolphin stranding -- Morris Island -- October 20, 2012

              Back into the water, he swirled and thrashed about.  Hopefully, that last thrash netted him a fish.  I was secretly pleased -- feeling as though maybe he performed that stranding for my benefit!  OK, I realize that is unlikely.  Still the romantic in me likes to think that a wild, intelligent creature might respond to our excitement.

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin pulling off from beach after stranding -- Morris Island -- October 20, 2012

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin leaving beach after stranding -- Morris Island, SC -- October 20, 2012

Atlantic Bottlenose Dolphin -- churning the water to catch more fish --  Morris Island, SC -- October 20, 2012

             Finally, I decided that it was time for me to move on to explore more of the beach.  As I scanned the marsh on the other side of a small creek at the beach’s edge, a Seaside Sparrow popped up and posed briefly for a decent shot.

Seaside Sparrow -- Morris Island, SC -- October 20, 2012
            Then I decided to catch up to Carl on the front beach.  Here, we could see the Morris Island Light from a different angle from our normal views from Folly.

Morris Island Light -- Morris Island, SC -- October 20, 2012

Morris Island Light -- Morris Island, SC -- October 20, 2012

         In the shrubs, just beyond what was left of the eroded dune line, we found our first-of-season Savannah Sparrows en masse!

Savannah Sparrow -- Morris Island, SC --Octber 20, 2012

Savannah Sparrow on Sea Oats -- Morris Island, SC -- October 20, 2012

             This lovely Palm Warbler also obliged me with a rather nice pose.

Palm Warbler -- Morris Island, SC -- October 20, 2012
              While watching the birds bounce around the shrubs, a brightly colored moth caught my eye.  It’s perched appearance, orange with white stripes and black dots contrasted significantly with it’s in-flight appearance -- bright solid pink and white wings.  I am sorry that I was unable to capture the moth in flight.  Perhaps, next time!

Bella Moth -- Morris Island, SC -- October 20, 2012

At home, I researched on line to learn that this beauty is called “Bella Moth" (Utetheisa ornatrix)!  How appropriate!

            Once Jimmy had ridden his bike the length of the island and back, we headed back to the boat.  Once there, we found that the dolphin were once again strand feeding in front of the beach-goers whose boat was in the first photos.  What a delight to watch this again!!!

             After conversing with the others, we learned that they were on the board of the “Save the Light Foundation.”  We also learned from them that they are out there every weekend as they motor over to the lighthouse for continued repair work.  Thus, they were very familiar with the habits of this pod of dolphin whom they observe regularly.
             This piece of news caused some major boat envy in Carl and myself.  One of these days, we will be buying our own boat for regular treks out to the islands and dolphin-watching!  It is on the wish list!!!!  In the meantime, we will continue to enjoy our trips with my brother!  Thank you, Jimmy for a superb afternoon on Morris Island!