Aww, how cute

There is a balance of cute and ferocious when observing nature.  I was watching birds at Woody Pond in Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge when these young alligators climbed out on a tree branch in the water to sun themselves.  The first one came out and claimed a spot and the second just climbed on top to share the beautiful sunshine.

At the same time, we could hear adult alligators bellowing in the swampy area surrounding the lake.  It is a thrill to observe nature but, I was very aware of what was going on around me, just in case one of those adults appeared nearby.  We always need to remember that nature is not always a human-friendly habitat.  We could become an easy meal to the natives if we’re not careful!

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Townsend, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/9 – 1/200 sec – ISO 320

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Snakebird

I first saw this bird sunning on a branch along the edge of Woody Pond at Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge.  It was not a familiar species to me and I initially thought it was a cormorant.

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Anhinga sunning at Woody Pond

The Anhinga’s name comes from the Brazilian Tupi language and means devil bird or snake bird. The origin of this name is obvious when the bird is swimming. It swims with the body submerged and just ‘s long, slender head and neck the above the water so the bird looks like a snake ready to strike.

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The “snake bird” with catfish

The Anhinga pictured above had just caught a catfish and was swimming back and forth with the prey speared on the end of its beak.  At first, the fish was flapping about but the bird held it and waited for the wriggling to stop.  The Anhinga then flipped the fish up quickly to release it from the beak. After a little juggling to re-position, the fish was quickly swallowed whole.

This was quite a process to watch.

 

North American Anhinga
(Anhinga anhinga leucogaster)

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge
Townsend, Georgia, USA

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
420mm @ f/9 – 1/80 sec – ISO 320

Common Gallinule

Here’s a question for the bird nerds out there: What bird has a call that sounds like a kids bicycle horn?  This image is just that bird.  We spotted a number of them wading in the marshy area surrounding the ibis rookery at Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge near Hilton Head Island.

The water surrounding the rookery was coated with some kind of green material which also covers the birds legs as you see it standing near the shoreline here.  The most viewed birds in this area are actually egrets, ibis and herons but the Gallinule was closer to shore and just looked neat against that green carpet of the water.  I love getting to know birds that I hadn’t been familiar with before!

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge
Bluffton, SC

Nikon D7100
Vanguard Altra Pro 263 AT tripod
Tamron SP 150-600mm F/5-6.3 Di VC USD G2
600mm @ f/16 – 1/100 sec – ISO 400