The Wild Life on Kiawah Island

February 29th, 2016 | 4 Comments »

Strictly speaking, the headline on this week’s blog post should read wildlife instead of wild life. Because for the last few weeks life here has been anything but wild. Instead, the days have passed gently, giving me a very welcome break, with time to read, think and bike around the island, enjoying everything I see.

Birds abound here. Cormorants are everywhere, gathering most mornings for a confab on a nearby golf course …

 

Do you think they are gathering for a caucus? Politics is all people are talking about here in South Carolina, so why not the birds as well?
Do you think they are gathering for a caucus? Politics is all people are talking about here in South Carolina, so why not the birds as well?

 

or swimming in the lakes and ponds …

 

They can't stop talking, even while they swim.
They can’t stop talking, even while they swim.

 

or landing on a nicely placed branch, ready for a rest.

 

We often see birds sitting on the branch on the right, where this one is going to land, with wings wide spread.
This may be a cormorant but it may be a juvenile anhinga. Both birds spread their wings to the sun, as this one did soon after landing.

 

Biking and driving around the island, I’ve encountered egrets on branches …

 

Hunched over, this egret looks small. With neck extended, the birds look much larger and more graceful.
Hunched over, this egret looks small. With neck extended, the birds look much larger and more graceful.

 

in the water, looking for lunch …

 

An egret's neck is really long when fully extended.
An egret’s neck is really long when fully extended.

 

And holding up their wings like ballet skirts.

 

I'm sure there is an explanation for this peculiar posture but I don't know what it is.
I’m sure there is an explanation for this peculiar posture but I don’t know what it is.

 

The other day, I saw two pelicans battling it out, chasing each other across a small pond, almost banging wings. Were they fighting or preparing to mate?

 

Two pelicans were fighting. Maybe it was play, maybe for mating purposes.
I don’t have any good photos that show both pelicans so this one of one will have to do.

 

There is other wildlife on the island, including white tailed deer and bobcats, but birds are the real draw for me. I don’t need to see the rare ones, even the most common birds are fascinating to someone like me, for whom they are unfamiliar. Take this one, for example. Perched on one leg, I found the bird menacing.

 

Talk about bad posture!
Talk about bad posture!

 

But once he straightened up, all menace disappeared.

 

A heron? Presumably not an egret since they all seem to have yellow feet and bills.
Is this a type of heron? Presumably it is not an egret since they all seem to have yellow feet and bills. But bird identification is not my strong suit.

 

Today I spotted an osprey on its nest. At first I thought I was seeing the head of a newly hatched chick but when he or she raised its head, I could see it was an adult.

 

Sitting on its nest, the osprey is only partly visible.
Sitting on its nest, the osprey is only partly visible.

 

And not a happy one. From time to time the bird called out, changing direction so that the call would reach the absent parent.

 

What to say?
Hey, it’s time to come back. I need some time on my own.

 

I didn’t wait long enough to see parent #2 returning to the nest. I didn’t need to — sitting in the sun to watch and listen was reward enough.

 

No, not parent #2.
No, not parent #2, only parent #1 changing position.

 

Along with the abundance of birds is an abundance of signs warning of danger from alligators. I’m sure the danger exists, but the one alligator I see regularly looks like he never moves.

 

This guy suns himself daily, and always in the same spot and in the same position.
This guy suns himself daily, and always in the same spot and in the same position.

 

And who blames him? Basking in the sun is good enough for me, too.

 

Patterns and Politics

February 22nd, 2016 | 8 Comments »
These palms have an inner glow that warms the soul.
  For the last week I've been enjoying warm snow-free days on Kiawah Island, a vacation spot off the coast of South Carolina. One of the joys of being here (apart from the weather, of course) is seeing plants I can't identify. This isn't because they are rare, it's because they are unfamiliar, and in vacation mode I can't find the energy to look them up.  Cycling around the island, with the sun warm on my shoulders, I simply enjoy what I see.   [caption id="attachment_3575" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] These palms have

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Crocus on my Mind

February 15th, 2016 | 10 Comments »
I think these are Striped Beauty.
  For the last few days I've been driving south, from Montreal to South Carolina. I was expecting the days to get warmer and they have, but not by much. Along the Skyline Drive in Virginia, snow was very evident, up close ...   [caption id="attachment_3531" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] I like these trees and the way the branches are twisted by the wind and weather. Can someone identify them for me?[/caption]   ... and in the distance.   [caption id="attachment_3532" align="aligncenter" width="1000"] Snow covered the ground on mountain ranges that retreated

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Layers in the Garden, or The Necessity for Ruins

February 8th, 2016 | 14 Comments »
We found these pieces of equipment rusting in the woods and brought them to the edge of a path where they can make their presence felt.
When gardeners mention layers, or layering, they are often talking about propagating a plant. Tucking a flexible shoot of a shrub underground and leaving it to form roots is one method of layering. Separated from the original, one shrub becomes two or more, depending how many branches were layered. Layering can refer as well to different vertical spaces, from ground covers to perennials that are knee high, at eye level and taller, or to shrubs and trees that tower overhead. It can refer to a succession of bloom, how one flower overlaps with another, before fading

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The Writing is on the Wall

February 1st, 2016 | 18 Comments »
What more is there to say?
  The writing is on the wall -- not metaphorically but literally.   [caption id="attachment_3465" align="aligncenter" width="3888"] What more is there to say?[/caption]   This latest work of art is a collaboration with my friend and neighbour John Hay. He and I previously collaborated on a mosaic map of Glen Villa and a giant turtle that sits in the Upper Field. More significantly, though, the project is a departure for me. As my granddaughter pointed out, it is the first piece I've conceived that doesn't relate to nature or natural materials in one way

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