Osprey Heaven After Hurricane Dorian.

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.

A Great Blue Heron glides across the 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.

Osprey stopping by to say hello.

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.

Kingfisher hovering before a dive.

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. đŸ™‚

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.

You can’t see it here, but there is a gap in the weeds right in front of the video camera.

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.

4 Osprey.

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!

Published by Larry Maras

Nature Photographer in Summerville, SC.

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