Hurricane Dorian crawled by the coast of South Carolina 4 days ago. I was eager to see what effect, if any, it had on one of my favorite birding spots. I was surprised and pleased to find more birds, not fewer. In particular, I found 5–instead of the usual 4–Ospreys hunting this marsh.
In southeastern South Carolina there lies an area called the ACE Basin. Within this area is a shallow marsh filled with fish that provides the perfect hunting ground for Ospreys and many other birds. I happened upon it while out scouting for new birding locations. I call it Osprey Heaven.
In and around this marsh I have observed Bald Eagles, Wood Storks, Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Night Herons, Kingfishers, Royal Terns, Tri-Colored Herons, ducks, and the usual compliment of Anhingas and Turkey Vultures.
It’s three miles round trip to get to this place, and the route can’t be accessed by motorized vehicles. Sometimes I walk it; normally I ride a bicycle due to a bum ankle. Both have their advantages. Walking, you get more opportunities for photos as birds flush. On a bike, you miss those chances but get there sooner with much less effort. Either way, it’s a pleasant journey across old rice field dikes that offer great views of marshes that go on for miles. In full Camo, loaded down with a Nikon and large telephoto lens, a video camera, a tripod, a folding chair and plenty of water I’m sure I look like a total photo geek. 🙂
I was almost to the marsh when I had my first Osprey sighting, in a tree keeping a Kingfisher company.
The Osprey and Kingfisher took off as I got closer. I proceeded to a favorite spot to set up. It provides an unhindered view of the marsh with the morning sun at my back.
I get set up, and the skies are empty. So I wait. After about ten minutes, the first Osprey shows up. Ten minutes later, another. Before long, all 4 are in the skies of Osprey Heaven.
I get some shots, but they are mainly working the other side of the marsh. This Kingfisher shows up and gives me a treat. Note to self: bump up the shutter speed next time.
After about an hour, I decide to move to the other side of the marsh. Along the way I flush a baby Green Heron from the tall grass. It couldn’t have been more than 8 inches long, but with the complete and bright coloration of an adult. Peddling the bike, there was no chance for a capture other than the one that will stay in my mind for a long time.
On the other side of the marsh, now I have to leave even my bike and chair behind in order to get to the water’s edge. I am much closer to the action, but the sun is in my face for most shots. Still, it is a huge thrill to watch them dive on fish. I suddenly notice there are now 5 Osprey working the marsh! I stand in the wet turf and watch as long as I can.
My goal is to get a 4 shot sequence: A hover shot, a dive shot, the splash when the bird hits the water, and a shot of it flying away with a fish. But, not today.
As always, can’t wait to go back!