Friday, April 27, 2012

A Spin Around the Boardwalk

It has been a busy week, but mostly indoors at the computer working on the new Audubon South Carolina web site and the separate soon-to-be-released Audubon Center at Francis Beidler Forest web site (  However, over the last three days, other tasks have allowed us to make quick spins around the boardwalk.  Here is some of what has been happening:

Plenty of Pileated Woodpeckers working on fallen trees or inside tree cavities.
Pileated Woodpecker - Mark Musselman
There is a pair of Summer Tanagers around the nature center, but the female in the image is with her mate near the tower at Goodson Lake at the end of the boardwalk.  She had just completed a dragonfly meal and later inspected a wasp nest before being chased away by a Red-bellied Woodpecker.
Female Summer Tanager - Mark Musselman
Near #3 along the boardwalk, we spotted a pair of adult Yellow-crowned Night Herons along with a sub-adult hunting crayfish in the shallow water.  All were deadly efficient!
Sub-adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron - Mark Musselman
Sub-adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron - Mark Musselman
Adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron - Mark Musselman
Adult Yellow-crowned Night Heron - Mark Musselman
Just before entering the nature center, we heard the call of a Mississippi Kite and saw it land high in a lightning-killed pine.  It did not stay perched for long and we caught its image as it took off to patrol for flying insects.  This was the first Mississippi Kite we have seen this year.  Yesterday, a visitor reported watching 15 Mississippi Kites and three Swallow-tailed Kites hunting insects over the field at the intersection of Mims and Cantley, which is located north of our driveway.
Mississippi Kite - Mark Musselman
Crayfish have more to worry about than Barred Owls, Yellow-crowned Night Herons, River Otters, Raccoons, etc., they also need to avoid the flocks of White Ibis moving amass through the shallow water.  The ibis are in the swamp because their young back in the nests along the coast cannot tolerate the salt that a marine crustacean diet would provide.  Therefore, the adults fly to the freshwater of the swamp, load up on crayfish and then fly back to disgorge the meal for the chicks.  Eventually, the adults will bring the fledglings along to catch their own meals.
White Ibis - Mark Musselman
White Ibis - Mark Musselman

Climbing Hydrangea (Decumaria barbara) is in bloom and a variety of insects were observed visiting the flowers.
Climbing Hydrangea - Mark Musselman
We have tentatively identified this butterfly as a Banded Hairstreak (Satyrium calanus), but the species is variable.
Banded Hairstreak - Mark Musselman
Banded Hairstreak - Mark Musselman
Out by Goodson Lake and the beginning of the return portion of the loop, we observed the following two male Prothonotary Warblers singing and battling each other at their territorial boundaries.  A037 has claimed the area around the tower back toward #10 and over toward the return portion of the loop where he encountered A058.  A058 appears to claim the small area between #152 and #155, which is the start of the return loop.  No females were spotted, but they are quieter, more subdued in color, and possibly sitting on a nest out of sight.
Prothonotary Warbler A058 - Mark Musselman
Prothonotary Warbler A037 - Mark Musselman
Although we did not get images for the other wildlife activity, we heard plenty of bird species calling and singing, including a ten-minute Barred Owl caterwauling fest.

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