Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Update: Look What Hurricane Arthur Blew In -- Pomarine Jaeger

          Here's a quick update on the previous post's handsome and rugged Pomarine Jaeger.  I learned yesterday morning that the injured bird had been transported to the Rapter Center -- Avian Conservation Center in Awendaw for care.  The Medical Clinic Director has reported that the bird had had been singed and many feathers were missing and this compromises his natural waterproofing.  Other than that the bird seems in relative good health and is "bright, alert and responsive."  They are providing him with fluids, vitamins, food, medication to prevent Asper (a malady that strikes birds held in captivity) and a salt water pool.  Because he will need to complete a full molt before he can be released (and the mold period is months away), the center may transfer him to CROW, a treatment facility on Sanibel Island in Florida, which is better equipped to provide long-term treatment to pelagic species .

          Kudos to our Rapter -- Avian Conservation Center for treating "our" bird and to the people who got him there!  I will see if I can obtain more updates on this bird in the future.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Look What Hurricane Authur Blew In -- One Week Later!

Pomarine Jaeger -- Breach's Inlet -- Sullivan's Island -- July 12, 2014

           Yes, those sea-going fellows are rugged and handsome, n'est-ce pas?  Personally, I never expected to see one of these guys on shore, so up close and personal.  And yet, here he is, a Pomarine Jaeger, Life Bird number 357, on the beach at Breach's Inlet on Sullivan's Island!  This bird winters off of our coast but is highly unlikely to be here during summer months.  Also, this is a bird that lives at sea -- only coming ashore to nest -- and certainly not here.  So, why is he here?  The theory holds that he is a storm bird -- injured by Hurricane Authur.  Sure enough, though he does fly, he only flies short distances.

           Being in the middle of an all-consuming project the last few days, I was not sure that I should leave the house to chase this bird when I first learned of it from a fellow birder via e-mail on Friday.  But after talking to Craig Watson, who spotted the bird first and then found it again, I decided that this was a birding event that I could not pass up.  With the deadlines that I faced, it just meant that I might lose a little sleep later.  Someone said that sleeping is over-rated.  I tend to disagree -- unless I am chasing birds!

           Just before I arrived at Breach's Inlet, Craig, on the Isle of Palm (IOP) side, called me to let me know that the Pomarine had flown to the Sullivan's Island side of the inlet.  I found the bird  immediately and sat down on the beach within 20 feet of the bird and began clicking away.   The picture below show Pam Ford and Craig Watson watching me and the bird across the inlet.

Pam Ford and Craig Watson on Isle of Palms side of Breach's Inlet -- July 11, 2014

Pomarine Jaeger -- Breach's Inlet -- Sullivan's Island, SC -- July 11, 2014

Pomarine Jaeger -- Breach's Inlet -- Sullivan's Island, SC -- July 11, 2014

Pomarine Jaeger -- Breach's Inlet -- Sullivan's Island, SC -- July 11, 2014

Photo showing scar on left leg of Pomarine Jaeger -- Breach's Inlet -- Sullivan's Island, SC -- July 11, 2014

             Pam and Craig eventually joined up with me on the Sullivan's Island side of the inlet to watch our unusual visitor.  Andy Harrison also soon arrived.  This was a life bird for Andy, Pam and myself!  You can see PJ the Pomarine in the photo below on Craig's right.

Andy Harrison, Pam Ford,  Craig Watson & PJ -- Breach's Inlet -- Sullivan's Island, SC -- July 11, 2014
             I apologize to my readers for the delay in posting this magnificent find.  Again, this project and the deadlines have hindered me a bit.   And to think that I almost passed on chasing this bird!  Silly me!  I am still stoked about seeing this handsome and rugged guy!  I send my heartfelt thanks to my fellow birders who alerted me to this bird and then who encouraged me to get my rear in the car to join in the chase!  Thanks guys!  You rock!  It was great sharing this with you!
One last shot of PJ exercising his wings -- Pomarine Jaeger -- Beaach's Inlet -- Sullivan's Island, SC -- July 11, 2014 

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Woosh! Poof! The Brutal and Beautiful Wild Life 10 feet out the Window!

Feral Rock Pigeon -- Parc Perlière -- Charleston, SC -- June 19. 2008

           With bird feeders outside our dining room windows, we are frequently entertained and informed by the birds who come to visit.  They also often provide us with fabulous photo ops!  Though the Feral Rock Pigeons have a hard time perching on our feeders, they take advantage of the seed that is spilled to the ground from above.  We get to know  and even develop relationships with our regulars such as Princess Bluebird who begged at the window for mealworms.

"Princess"  -- Eastern Bluebird -- tapping at window to beg for mealworms -- Parc Perlière -- Charleston -- April 2013
For more about her, see this blog post from April 2013 and this one from May 2013.  (I will give you an update on Princess at the end of today's blog post.)  Another regular whom we often see perched in the live oak above the feeders is this beautiful killer Cooper's Hawk.  Now remember, before the squeamish among you protest, yes, big birds eat little birds, anoles, frogs, ducklings, etc.  And everybody has to eat to survive.  Big birds sometimes kill little birds so that they can feed their families.  It is the way of nature. 

Cooper's Hawk -- Parc Perlière -- Charleston, SC -- January 22, 2011

          This brings me to yesterday evening's show during our dinner.  Woosh!  A sudden movement right outside the window caught my attention and caused me to look up.  I missed what it was .... but Poof! ..... a sudden release of small bird feathers floated up.  I immediately knew that our Cooper's Hawk had come to dine himself.  We looked down out the window and sure enough, there was the Cooper's on top of a struggling feral Rock Pigeon who may have outweighed him!  Impressive!  Carl's camera was thankfully handy. 

Cooper's Hawk with kill, a Feral Rock Pigeon -- Parc Perlière -- July 2, 2014 -- Photo by Carl Miller

 Not only did Carl take the shot above, he also took some video which will show you how the hawk struggled with the size of his prey!  For the more squeamish among you, the pigeon is already dead in this clip so you will not see it struggle, if you choose to watch it.

The Cooper's Hawk did manage to fly off with his prey!

      Update on our Princess Bluebird:  Just a couple of weeks ago while I was napping on the sofa, I heard an insistent and familiar tap, tap, tap on the dining room window.  Could it be Princess Bluebird?  I got up to look and sure enough, there she was!  Tapping for mealworms!  But where has she been all Spring?   We have had some bluebirds investigating our box as potential residents this Spring.  But it was the Carolina Chickadees who used the box this Spring.  That day, I watched Princess and her mate fly to the bluebird box.   Yes, indeed, these two had decided to begin building a nest in mid-June (which is a bit late) and Princess tapped at my window daily.  And then it stopped.  I have seen her mate but not her.  It is possible that she met her end.  Was it the Cooper's Hawk?  We have no evidence of that.  He is not the only predator out there.  There's a young Red-shouldered Hawk that likes to hang out on the bluebird box across the street in the churchyard.  Yet, it is possible that Princess may have died in the Cooper's talons.  We must remember when we observe wildlife that the ways of nature can be beautiful and brutal.  Killing is how they survive.