Monday, June 11, 2012

One Fish, Two Fish, I-love-you Fish

A couple of weeks back, we had an early morning birding adventure at the Savannah National Wildlife Refuge. We are still delightfully baffled that we have a refuge with a wildlife drive just 25 minutes away from our home! And this trip surely gave us something to sing about despite the gloomy weather and bout of rain we got on our way out. This short birding day was so good, in fact, that I have to split it up into 2 posts!

Common Gallinule

The morning started off nicely as we got some nice looks at a pair of mating Orchard Orioles. We heard a male singing, and then we followed it to a tree across the road to where we then found a female with a beak full of grubs. We figured that they must have had a nest in that tree. We only hope it survived ok as the wind was blowing and whipping that tree pretty good. And it didn't help matters that the tree was right next to a main road with lots of large truck traffic.
Lovely Cattails

We carried on with our good birding friend who then casually requested that we find a Least Bittern so that she could finally get the photos she's been wanting for a long time. Well, Nick delivered and located this sneaky little bird. This Least Bittern was the first of several that we saw that day, and he afforded us fantastic looks. And our friend indeed got some great shots of this usually secretive bird. I snuck in a few shots myself =)

Least Bittern in the reeds

Least Bittern giving us good views

Next, an Eastern Kingbird perched quite close to us and made his little sharp, buzzy call. I kept trying to get a shot of him with his mouth open, but my reaction time and my shutter speed were no match for his quickness. Nonetheless, this kingbird also let us adore him in all his kingly goodness.

Eastern Kingbird looking at me head-on

Profile shot of Eastern Kingbird

Eastern Kingbird

However, our day of birding really took a turn for the awesome as we witnessed the courtship ritual of Least Terns. These tiny terns were putting on quite a show, or at least the males were. We've seen some fish wagging (and fish stealing) by other males of other tern species, but these little guys were just the cutest little things. 
Least Tern

Ladies in waiting

The females were standing along the gravel road just waiting for their suitor to swoop in and give them a fish. It was almost like watching southern belles at a debutante ball waiting for the perfect gentleman to present them with a rose. (I think I'd rather get a fish!) We saw up to a dozen females waiting patiently as the males did some aerial acrobatics before catching and presenting their delectable morsels. The females seemed quite receptive, and hopefully there will soon be even tinier Least Terns out and about nearby.

Least Tern looking for fish

Least Tern has no problem hovering right in front of us if it means finding a fish for his lady love

Least Tern in flight

We watched these terns for probably close to an hour, and it was hard pulling ourselves away. They didn't seem to mind us being right in the middle of their courtship gala. Even as cars passed by, the terns would just rise up off the road, but then quickly settle back down just waiting for their counterparts to bring more tasty fish. But we did finally depart this great spectacle, only to witness more great avian displays. But you'll have to wait a little while to see and read about those. ;-)

For you, deary.

Ta Da! A fish!

Off to find more fish!


  1. Those Least Tern shots are tops! And a Least Bittern too...a very 'leasty' sort of day it was.
    The Least Tern ritual is a nice spin-off on 'bringing home the bacon'.

    Looking forward to the next installment.

    1. It was a 'leasty' sort of day. Maybe the most leasty?! =P I guess I would need a Least Sandpiper to top it off.

    2. ooooooh good point. A Least Grebe would've been nice too, also miraculous.
      It's ok if it wasn't the most leastiest; now there's still something to try for.

  2. Fun post! Great photos. You had some great views of the Least Bittern!

    1. Thanks, Dawn! We had some great looks, indeed! Thanks for stopping by! =)