Sunday, February 12, 2012

Savannah National Wildlife Refuge: Perpetual Motion in Feathers

December 29th, 2011. Between Christmas and New Year we took an overnight trip down to the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge in search of some sun and warmer weather. The weather was a little cool due to a northwesterly wind but it was sunny. The Savannah NWR is located on the east side of the Savannah River in Jasper County, South Carolina, just across the Savannah River from Georgia. We visited Argyle Island that is accessed from Alligator Alley.

Most of the birds were on the move, all the time. Perpetual motion in feathers! They were going about their business on their own terms. Feeding was at the top of their 'to do' list. They weren't posing for photos thank you very much. But we got some anyway.

When we started out in the morning the air was crisp and cool. This heron, probably a Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias), in the left of the photo thought so too. It had taken up a position in a relatively sheltered to soak up heat from the sun.

A closer view. It looked distinctly frumpy in the cold air. Most of the bird activity was along the canal on the south and east margin of the drive.

American Coots (Fulica americana) were among the most numerous birds on the marsh, usually in groups. This was one of the few loners

We’d seen a male Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola) on the canal when we drove the loop the previous evening so we were looking for him in the morning. And there he was. He was feeding on the opposite side of the canal.

This was the view we saw of him almost as much as seeing him right-side-up. He’d launch himself up and make a little loop to dive under the water. I tried to capture the jump but only got the sight of splayed tail feathers as he disappeared under the water.

A female Bufflehead. I’d seen male Buffleheads before but never a female. This was a nice sighting. She was hanging out by herself well away from the male.

My best guess is that this is a Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis). I’ve never seen one before. I’d appreciate feedback as to whether my guess is correct or a correction.

A Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor) looked on somewhat disapprovingly before it flew off to a quieter location.

We also saw Pied-billed Grebes (Podilymbus podiceps), White Ibis (Eudocimus albus) and Cattle Egrets (
Bubulcus ibis). More of these next.
Click on an image to view a larger image


Cornell Laboratory of Ornithology:

- Great Blue Heron (Ardea herodias)

- Bufflehead (Bucephala albeola)

- Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)

- Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor)

Related posts:

- Savannah National Wildlife Refuge: The Evening Before

- Savannah National Wildlife Refuge: The Morning After

- Savannah National Wildlife Refuge: Alligator Alley

- Bufflehead Duck (Bucephala albeola)

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