Saturday, June 30, 2012

A Day-Long Shoot in January -- 3 Lowcountry Destinations: Charleston Harbor, Pitt Street, Beidler Forest

             Some days show the promise of such beautiful weather that you must simply live that day outdoors.  The forecast for Sunday, January 29, 2012 assured just such a day, and not having any papers to grade, I decided to indeed to spend it outdoors. 

             My first goal was to hopefully capture the sunrise at Pitt Street Bridge in Mount Pleasant.   As I crossed the James Island Connector, I quickly realized that I would arrive in Mount Pleasant too late for a decent sunrise shot.  So instead, I quickly crossed the Charleston peninsula to the waterfront on the eastern side and found a good view over the harbor towards the rising sun from the front porch of the Fleet Landing Restaurant  -- just in time!

Winter sunrise over Charleston Harbor from Fleet Landing Restaurant -- January 29, 2012

Wow!  With a sunrise like that, why do they not open for breakfast?!  I would pay good money to eat my shrimp and grits while contemplating a sunrise like that!

               I still had my Pitt Street destination in mind as I had heard that on the birding grapevine that a White-Winged Dove had been sighted near there recently.  So I continued my journey to Mount Pleasant side of the harbor and parked at Alhambra Hall.  Again, the view back towards the peninsula was superb in the cold early morning light. 

Charleston Peninsula seen from Alhambra Hall, Mount Pleasant, SC -- January 29, 2012

Charleston Peninsula seen from Alhambra Hall, Mount Pleasant, SC -- January 29, 2012
View across Mount Pleasant docks towards the Ravenel Bridge -- January 29, 2012

           As for birds, there were plenty of Brown Pelicans, Double-Crested Cormorants and some undetermined sea ducks out on the harbor and on the sandbar.  In the marsh, there was a slew of Song Sparrows.  I knew I would need to walk through the surrounding neighborhood to find the White-Winged Dove and so I spent some time doing that.  Plenty of the usual suspects were singing .... such as this delightful Carolina Wren, all puffed up against the chill

Carolina Wren -- Pitt Street Causeway, Mount Pleasant, SC -- January 29, 2012
 .....  but no White-Winged Dove.  Oh well!  

          The day was warming and the light was wonderful so I had no complaints.  I was very happy simply to be outdoors.  I continued down to the nearby Pitt Street Causeway and enjoyed watching an Osprey fish and a Bottled-nosed Dolphin also.  They fished a little too far out for good shots whereas other critters cooperated a bit more.

Snowy Egrets -- Pitt Street Causeway, Mount Pleasant, SC -- January 29, 2012

Great Blue Heron -- Pitt Street Causeway, Mount Pleasant, SC -- January 29, 2012

White Ibis and Willet -- Pitt Street Causeway, Mount Pleasant, SC -- January 29, 2012

Hooded Merganser -- Pitt Street Causeway, Mount Pleasant, SC -- January 29, 2012

Brown Pelican -- Pitt Street Causeway, Mount Pleasant, SC -- January 29, 2012  

                 After enjoying all of Pitt Street's revelations that morning, I left for my third and final destination -- a favorite -- Francis Beidler Audubon Swamp.  Within a leafless forest, I hoped to easily find & photograph several species of birds.  Several Blue-Headed Vireos hunting bugs helped to fulfill my wish.

Blue-Headed Vireo -- Audubon Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest  -- January 29, 2012

Blue-Headed Vireo -- Audubon Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest  -- January 29, 2012

A pair of Pileated Woodpeckers helped a bit less.

Pileated Woodpeckers -- Audubon Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest  -- January 29, 2012

The Downy Woodpeckers played Hide-n-Seek ....

Downy Woodpecker -- Audubon Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest  -- January 29, 2012

..... while this Anole enjoyed basking in the sunlight!

Anole -- Audubon Sanctuary at Francis Beidler Forest  -- January 29, 2012

               The breeze seemed to be keeping many of the birds down, and  as the shadows began to lengthen, I realized a need to return home.  The gorgeous day had lived up to it's promise and I drove home quite relaxed, ready to begin a new work week, with the anticipation of more beautiful Lowcountry winter days outdoors to come!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Another Red-Tailed Hawk Family Followed in Far-Away Cornell Land

        I confess that my neighborhood Red-Tailed Hawk family is not the only Red-Tailed family that I have been following this Spring!  This post is the companion post to "History of a Red-Tailed Hawk Family -- Part 3."  The Cornell Lab of Ornithology has mounted a few web cams on the Cornell University campus and I have been following the action of their hawks through their live cam feeds.  It has been a great learning experience with close-up views of the young nestlings' development and the care provided by their devoted parents.  To see that experience, you will first want to see perhaps the video below on how they mounted the cameras high on the stadium lights (over 70 feet high) where this pair, Big Red (the female) and Ezra (the male), have been known to nest for the past 3- 4 years.  You might feel the need for your winter coat and your Dramamine as you watch this video! 

         There are many videos available on the Cornell website that provide intimate views in the nesting life of this family, including a video of each of the "fledge-falls" of the first 2 chicks and the first, beautifully executed fledging of the third chick (the youngest one which they believe is a female, of course) one week later.   Thankfully, the lab also created a summary video montage (below) which serves as a family album capturing several life scenes over the last 3 months of the nesting, hatching, feeding and then the fledging of the three chicks.   The quotes in this film come from the many viewers who shared their feelings in the chat room as they watched these birds grow.

And not to be missed! -- You will want to watch this fun slide show of screen shots captured -- another family album! 

               The webcam and chat continue as the moderators track the birds' flights and activities around the campus post-fledging.  The parents and the chicks still return to the nest -- their home base -- fairly often as the parents are still feeding and training their youngsters.

           I have thoroughly enjoyed watching these birds and learning from them and the moderators  about bird life. It is indeed an amazing life.  I hope you also enjoy and learn from the videos that I have shared here and that you visit the Cornell Lab of Ornithology site for their other webcams as well as for their other very useful educational resources!

History of Red-Tailed Hawk Family -- Part 3

Red-Tailed Hawk parent soaring over our house -- May 2, 2012
          Some of my readers will remember my posts from last summer on our resident Red-Tailed Hawk family.  If you have not read these posts, then you have not yet been introduced to the history of this family.  Problem solved -- you can learn more about the family or re-aquaint yourselves with their history by visiting the following posts: History of a Red-Tailed Hawk Family -- Part 1 and Part 2.  This post, Part 3, continues their story with this Spring's new chick, as promised.

          Fully expecting more nesting activity, I began to check, somewhat irregularly in late March and early April, the old nest site in front of the middle school around the corner from my house .  On March 31, I found one of the adults on the nest brooding.   Later in April, on one of my irregular checks, I did not observe the parent on the nest.  But I also knew that in a deep nest high up off of the ground I was not going to see any chicks until they were bigger.  Finally, as I was approaching the nest on April 20, I saw a parent fly from a branch on the nest tree to a favorite perch tree in the back of the school yard.  And peeking over the side of the nest, I saw this one small, fuzzy, whitish head.  The next day, I returned and took his photo and looked again to see if perhaps there was more than one head.  No, this year there would be no siblings!

First view of Red-Tailed Hawk chick  -- April 21, 2012
 I spotted one of the parents again keeping diligent watch from the perch tree behind the school.

Red-Tailed Hawk Parent watching nest -- April 21, 2012

          During this fuzzy-head time, I checked the nest a couple more times without taking photos.   On the evening of May 2, after a visit to the school-yard nest, I photographed one of the parents doing a flyby over our deck before landing in a favorite perch tree in the school yard.

Red-Tailed Hawk parent in a flyby over our deck -- May 2, 2012

           Then, on the evening of May 4, I heard a loud commotion of Mockingbirds and Blue Jays screaming insults.  Such a ruckus usually indicates that one of our neighborhood raptors is close-by and has made a kill.  Sure enough, following the sound of the indignant birds and watching the their dive-bombing, I was able to locate one of the adult Red-Tailed Hawks in an oak across the creek with a squirrel tail dangling from under its tail.  Carl was happy to hear that the family was feasting on squirrel that night as we do seem to have a never-ending supply!

Red-Tailed Hawk parent with squirrel kill -- May 4, 2012

            On May 12, I visited the nest again to see that the baby now seems fairly well-feathered.  What a quiet bird though!  We had not yet heard him making his loud shrilly calls from our yard.  I imagined he may be ready to fledge in a week or two and knew that I needed to begin listening for the tell-tale shrill screeches!

Beginning to look like a hawk with real feathers!  -- May 12, 2012

Contemplating life beyond the nest?-- May 12, 2012

          Finally, late in May, we began to hear him (her?) call.  We assumed that he had not yet fledged because the calls were coming from the same location.  But young birds begin to "branch"  -- that is they begin hopping about and flapping to other branches in the nest tree around the nest before they actually fledge.  When I had chance (I was end-of-the-school-year busy) to check on him, I found him in a pine tree about 40 feet from his own.  In fact, I found him there a couple of days in a row.  This is one slow-moving bird.  Later in the week, he had finally migrated to a tree about 100 feet from his nest tree.  This is one cautious bird!  I also noticed at this time how fat he seemed -- particularly in comparison to his rather thin father.  Meanwhile, the parents, when not hunting, kept diligent watch from the TV satellite dish high above the school, screaming their encouragements in true Red-Tailed fashion.

Father Red-Tailed Hawk (left) and Mother Red-Tailed Hawk left keeping watch -- June 23, 2012
          By the time Carl and I departed on vacation June 16, he (she?) was still limiting his circle to the school yard.  I hoped that by the time we returned, he might finally have ventured into the graveyard or maybe perhaps into our yard.  He certainly seems to lack the adventurous spirit of the previous chicks. 

         Thus, indeed, we arrived home this past Saturday (June 23), and when Carl checked the mailbox, he heard our young hawk's shrill call.  We determined that he must be in the graveyard behind the house!  First we had to greet our furry children, unload the car and unpack.  But finally, once most of that was accomplished,  I heard the tell-tale screams of the Mockingbirds and the Blue Jays -- also in the graveyard.  And then I heard the young hawk's response.  It was indeed time to check out the action.  Spying through the tree branches, I could make out his form hovered over what appeared to be a squirrel's nest.  So I walked over with camera in hand to check it out.  The other birds had quieted down since the hawk was indeed in a squirrel's nest feasting on squirrel!   It seems to me that the birds protest raucously longer when the kill is one of their own. 

Red-Tailed Hawk Fledgling feasting in a squirrel's nest -- June 23, 2012
           Oh my!  That is one big baby!  Now I believe that this chick could be a female.   She does look bigger than her scrawny dad!  She began crying out loudly when she spied me and her parents responded from their satellite dish perch.  But she also continued her feast.

Red-Tailed Hawk Fledgling -- in a squirrel's nest -- See the squirrel's feet? -- June 23, 2012

Red-Tailed Hawk in squirrel's nest -- hmm comfy accommodations with food!  -- June 23, 2012

       She is a cautious young lady.  I look forward to the day when she expands her territory into my yard -- just a few more feet!  Perhaps she will come this week!  I hear that girl screeching now -- but she is in the school yard.   I may just need to go visit her, with the camera, of course!

       Stay tuned!  My neighborhood hawks are not the only family of Red-Taileds that I have been following.  I am also posting right now a companion piece on "Another Red-Tailed Hawk Family Followed in Far-Away Cornell Land."   This one is mighty impressive -- not my camera work -- Cornell University's video cam work!  Click on the link and enjoy!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Visiting The Swallow-Tailed Flycatchers -- June 23, 2012

          Many of you, like us, have already heard of the unusual pair of Swallow-Tailed Flycatchers who, for the last couple of years, have raised chicks on a farm in the South Carolina Piedmont near the town of Fountain Inn.  In fact, this pair on Gunter Road, is not the only breeding pair observed in our state in recent years.  At least one other pair has been reported nesting in our state at the Simpson Research Station of Clemson University near Pendleton, SC.  A great article, "Accidental Tourists" with lovely photographs portraying last year's nesting activity of this latter pair, was just published in the May-June 2012 edition South Carolina Wildlife magazine.  Why are they considered unusual for our state?  If you visit the first link above, you will see on the map that their normal breeding range is in the South-Central states.  In fact, this species is the state bird for Oklahoma!   My post here relates my and Carl's  experience yesterday seeing the Gunter Road birds near Fountain Inn.

           Returning to Charleston from our North Carolina mountain vacation, we made the necessary detour to try to see these Swallow-Tailed Flycatchers.  We followed the coordinates provided by a previous eBird report to the Gunter Road farm.  I had tried the previous June and had failed to see the birds.  This time was a charm however!  As soon as we arrived, Carl and I spotted the female Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher hawking bugs over the field AND we immediately heard Grasshopper Sparrows singing in the tree farm area on the opposite side of the road.  The Grasshopper Sparrow had also been noted in the area.  We were delighted to get both species immediately since the temperature was in the 90s and we were not planning on staying long.  We did not set our eyes on the Grasshopper Sparrows but did recognize them by their song.

Female Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher -- Gunter Road near Fountain Inn, SC -- June 23, 2012

              We also saw the male Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher hawking bugs at a distance from us -- close to the barn and beyond it.  We recognized him by the spectacular length of his tail!  He was unfortunately too far from us for a decent photo.  We could also hear what we assumed were fledglings or juveniles chattering from the grass or from a tree.

               Within the hour spent there, we checked off a few other species of birds including: a Red-Tailed Hawk, several Barn Swallows, Turkey Vultures, Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinals, a Red-Shouldered Hawk (heard), an Eastern Bluebird (heard), a few Chipping Sparrows such as this one....

Chipping Sparrow -- Photo by Carl Miller -- Gunter Road near Fountain Inn, SC -- June 23, 2012

... and several Eastern Meadowlarks, including this noisy youngster.

A young Eastern Meadowlark -- Gunter Road near Fountain Inn, SC -- June 23, 2012

          The Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers, however, with their aerial acrobatics chasing the bugs, truly did steal the show every time they flew close-by!

Female Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher -- Gunter Road near Fountain Inn, SC -- June 23, 2012

Female Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher -- Gunter Road near Fountain Inn, SC -- June 23, 2012

Female Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher -- Gunter Road near Fountain Inn, SC -- June 23, 2012

Female Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher -- Gunter Road near Fountain Inn, SC -- June 23, 2012

          At the risk of sounding preachy, I want to relate another incident that occurred during our visit to the Gunter Road birds.  Perhaps, if I do end up sounding preachy, I will hopefully be preaching to the choir.  The message nonetheless bears merit.  So I confess, this post is as much about birders as it is about the birds.  You see, as Carl and I birded from the roadside, we met the farmer on whose property the birds reside.  We had just parked in front of his gate (on the right hand side of Gunter Road as you approach from Oaklawn Road), when we first saw the farmer approaching in his truck hauling a load of hay.  He waved us to park in the drive on the opposite side of the road.  After parking the car again, we then crossed the road to greet him and we thanked him for allowing us to park on his land.  He continued on to his property and we continued to bird along the road.  When he returned from dropping off his hay, he stopped his truck and got out to talk to us.  He began with an apology because he felt he had not been very polite to us.  I was surprised and reassured him that we did not feel that way.  He said that he felt he should have been nicer to us, but that many birders had not been very nice to him.   He did not give any details.  Instead, he proceeded to talk to us about the Scissor-Tailed Flycatchers.

           The farmer told us that they had already raised and fledged one brood of five chicks and he pointed out the nest tree, a large oak on his property at the corner of Gunter and Oaklawn Road.  He also said that he thought that she was nesting again in the same tree.  We had seen the male fly to that tree from a distance and then return to a perch near the barn.   We also had seen the female hawking insects close to the gate.  Second broods are possible, particularly in the southern parts of their breeding range, but are uncommon, according to the Birds of North America website.  Does anyone who has been following the activities of this pair know if they produced 2 broods last year?  I certainly hope they do.  I would love to see more of these wonderful aerial acrobats in our state! 

         I wanted to share this message with birders who plan to visit Gunter Road to remind all that manners, consideration and general friendliness are important elements when interacting with landowners.  A few bad interactions with some inconsiderate birders have left a bad impression of birders for this farmer.  We, as visitors, represent the birding community and we need to be considerate of those whose land we intend to visit -- even from the roadside!  A friendly wave and an enthusiastic greeting worked wonders for us with this gentleman.  He seemed to really like his birds!  We certainly should not have parked in front of his gate in the first place.  He was nice enough to wave us to park in his drive on the other side.  My advice to future visitors:  It is probably best to park on the side of the road and not too close to the gate.  With his very large truck, he had to swing wide to turn into his lane.   Also, please remember you are a visitor to a community.  Even if you are birding from the public right-of-way, it is their community.  Be nice to the neighbors.  In addition to the farmer, another neighbor had stopped along the roadside to point out to us the usual perches of these birds!  I applaud this farmer for not allowing a few badly-behaved birders to keep him from interacting so nicely with us!  As a classroom teacher, I really do understand how one ornery kid can mess up your impression of how a class goes.  Thankfully, "a few bad apples" did not taint his desire to share with us! 

          If you go, you will certainly enjoy watching these birds.  What a life bird this was for us!  Indeed it will be a very memorable life bird for us --  for the joy of watching it fly, dip, swoop, ascend steeply, circle and dance while catching insects AND for the lessons reenforced to us about being considerate and friendly towards everyone!  Everyone wins when we are all nice!

Regosin, Jonathan V. 1998. Scissor-tailed Flycatcher (Tyrannus forficatus), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online:

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Late Afternoon Stroll on Folly Beach at Lighthouse Inlet -- January 15, 2012

           Here in the Lowcountry, we often enjoy quite mild temperatures making strolling on the beach quite pleasant indeed.  Late on Sunday of the Martin Luther King’s Day weekend, I decided to take advantage of the beautiful weather with a vigorous walk on the beach.   I was suffering from some cabin fever and, after all, I needed the exercise!  Carl, seeing me leave the house with the camera, noted that I would not get much exercise taking it along.  “Sure I will.  There will not be much going on out there”  “So why are you taking it?”  “Just in case!”

           So off I went toting my camera (and binoculars) and yes I did walk vigorously right down the entry road, over the dunes to the beach.  All the interesting birds were too far out there for the reach  of my 400 mm lens.  Thus I continued my vigorous walk past the area where the trees are washing out to sea to the wash-over area.  There, I was stopped dead in my tracks by the delightful spectacle of a Ring-Billed Gull eating the remains of a crab in beautiful late afternoon light.  Clickety-click!

Ring-Billed Gull dining on crab -- Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, Folly Beach, SC -- January 15, 2012

Ring-Billed Gull -- Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, Folly Beach, SC -- January 15, 2012
              It was all downhill for the fast pace from that moment until past sunset.  After the gull’s feast, I came across a Black-Bellied Plover on the mudflat.  How beautiful in that warm, low-on-the-horizon light!  Click!
Black-Bellied Plover -- Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, Folly Beach, SC -- January 15, 2012

            He was soon joined by several Dunlin.  Oh, here’s an opportunity for a new banner photo for the top of the Pluff Mud Perspectives (PMP) page -- more shorebirds in the pluff mud!  Perhaps I could improve upon the photo currently being used.  Clickety click!

Well-camouflaged Dunlin -- Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, Folly Beach, SC -- January 15, 2012

Dunlin -- Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, Folly Beach, SC -- January 15, 2012

Dunlin -- Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, Folly Beach, SC -- January 15, 2012

          Then, a pair of American Oystercatchers showed to feed on a nearby oyster bed.  Could I approach closely enough for a decent photo?  This could potentially make a great candidate for the  new banner on PMP!  Click, click, click! 

American Oystercatcher -- Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, Folly Beach, SC -- January 15, 2012

Only the 2 Oystercatchers did not cooperate by  feeding close to each other!  I could only capture one at a time.

American Oystercatcher -- Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, Folly Beach, SC -- January 15, 2012

            Here comes the Black-Bellied Plover again with a Ruddy Turnstone.  Click! 

Black-Bellied Plover with Ruddy Turnstone -- Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, Folly Beach, Sc -- January 15, 2012

            The air was crisp, dry with no haze, making it possible to capture both the Morris Island and the more distant Sullivan’s Island lighthouses in one shot.  Lovely!

Morris Island Light (foreground) and Sullivan's Island Light (on horizon) as seen from Folly Beach, SC -- January 15, 2012
           Hmmmm.   I noticed that the light was fading.  I had dilly-dallied with the birds so much that I risked finishing this walk in the dark!  It was definitely time to kick this walk back into high gear!  As I returned from the inlet along the front beach route, I did pause long enough to attempt shooting this sleepy Herring Gull on the wing ...

Herring Gull --  Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, Folly Beach, SC -- January 15, 2012

... and the small flocks of American Oystercatchers flying up in the opposite direction, heading presumably to the inlet to roost for the evening.

American Oystercatchers heading to inlet -- Lighthouse Inlet Heritage Preserve, Folly Beach, SC -- January 15, 2012
       I did make it back to the car before dark thankfully.  And this time, I got exercise and birds!  Sometimes you can get both -- if forced to scurry in fading light!  I will have to try that again!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

A Happy Brown Booby Day! -- June 11, 2012

         First, to reassure all of my non-birding friends:  Yes, I am referring to a bird -- a  rather rare, tropical seabird for our coast at that!   In fact, there are several varieties of boobies in the world -- Masked Boobies, Red-footed Boobies, Blue-Footed Boobies and Brown Boobies.  Here is how the story goes about my Happy Brown Booby Day.

         On Thursday, June 8, a young graduate student, Brittany Hoffnagle, e-mailed her former professor Chris Hill at Coastal Carolina University to report what she believed to be an immature Brown Booby.  She was on the south jetty of Murrells Inlet at Huntington Beach State Park and the bird in question was on the inaccessible north jetty.  She sent a cell phone photo but unfortunately it was not clear enough to confirm the ID.  Nonetheless, Chris Hill alerted the birding community with a post on the possible sighting to the Carolina Bird Listserv.  Kudos to Brittany!  The bird was indeed verified the next day.  We have an immature Brown Booby in SC!

          Knowing that this is quite a rare seabird for most of the coastal waters anywhere in North America (the very southern part of Florida is the exception), I decided to run up to Huntington Beach State Park (HBSP) yesterday (Monday, June 11, 2012) to see it myself.   And, of course, who does not want to add another life bird to the list?  Even if the bird departed before I could arrive, I still would be treating myself to a fabulous day of birding at  HBSP -- a premier birding destination for our state! 

           Sure enough, I found the bird where indicated -- on a tall rock on the north jetty, across from the halfway point on the south jetty!  I have a new life bird!  Thank you Brittany!   Just as was previously reported, he was preening, unperturbed by the boat, para-sail and jet-ski traffic running by him.  Perhaps he was enjoying the "people watching!"

Brown Booby -- a rare visitor to North American coasts -- viewed from the jetty at Huntington Beach State Park, SC -- June 11, 2012

Brown Booby -- a rare visitor to North American coasts -- viewed from the jetty at Huntington Beach State Park, SC -- June 11, 2012
         The fishermen were completely oblivious to the rare treasure they had just above them!  How I wanted to be in a boat to approach for closer photography options!  After my report, I have a friend considering renting a boat for just that possibility.  My photos would certainly be better had I been closer! 

Brown Booby -- a rare visitor to North American coasts -- viewed from the jetty at Huntington Beach State Park, SC -- June 11, 2012

Brown Booby -- a rare visitor to North American coasts -- viewed from the jetty at Huntington Beach State Park, SC -- June 11, 2012

Brown Booby -- a rare visitor to North American coasts -- viewed from the jetty at Huntington Beach State Park, SC -- June 11, 2012

         Brown Boobies live in tropical waters throughout the world and adults are  typically not found on land in their breeding colonies unless it is breeding season.  There are few reports of roosting sites.  This species does not need to roost at night on land.  They feed on small fish, such as flying fish, captured  via  plunge-dives from 1 to 15 meters or in shallow dives at low angles to the water.  It is believed that they swim short distances underwater after their prey.  Since I had observed this Booby over a few hours time, I was wondering if it was fishing.  Was it a healthy bird?  It had perched on the same, well-decorated rock on which it had roosted in previous days, it seemed.  I did finally see this long-perched bird take off and head out over the jetty towards the ocean.  Then it back-tracked and disappeared behind the rocks on the other side.  I did not actually see it catch a fish.  But I did see it return to the "chosen" rock and commence again it's preening.  Not much is known about  this species' migration patterns.  Data show that this species does like to roost and nest in windy areas which suggests that this bird perhaps needs wind lift for take-offs.  Well, I would say that this young Brown Booby has chosen his rock well if such is the case.  Murrell's Inlet proves to be quite a windy locale. 

         So I experienced quite the Happy Brown Booby day at HBSP!  Perhaps this bird will hang out on his rock for awhile allowing other birders to come visit before he takes off to explore again.  It certainly is a significant tally mark on my Life Bird List!

Schreiber, E. A. and R. L. Norton. 2002. Brown Booby (Sula leucogaster), The Birds of North America Online (A. Poole, Ed.). Ithaca: Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Retrieved from the Birds of North America Online: