Friday, January 11, 2013

Great Blue Heron

As you probably guessed, we took a little trip just after Christmas.  It was a desperately needed and well-earned vacation, and we enjoyed every minute of it.

But we got back the afternoon before classes began again for The Peanut, and we had to hit the ground running from the moment we pulled into the driveway.

Alas, because I've been so crazy busy since we got home, this poor little blog has suffered for it.

Allow me to make up for it a little bit with a couple of pictures.

There will be many, many more to come in the days ahead not that I've finally gotten a chance to upload them this morning -- but these two were taken in a kind of serendipitous, magical moment that I wanted to share first.

During our trip to Hilton Head, SC, we spent part of a morning hiking through the Sea Pines Forest Preserve.  If you ever find yourself on Hilton Head Island and have an hour or two to view some spectacular scenery and enjoy the heck out of life, this is a wonderful way to do it.

We visited the preserve our last day on the island, and it was one of the best days of our entire vacation.  We had such a blast.

It was a little nippy that day, but the coolness of the air made the hiking around a little easier for all of us.  It wasn't too cold for comfort, but just cool enough that the three of us could hike pleasantly without getting super sweaty like you do in the summertime.

We started our adventure by hiking the trail out by Rookery Island and Lookout Point, and then came back around the loop to Fisherman's Point, where a dock juts out into the water and we got to watch a cormorant sunning himself, wings spread in the sunshine to dry after some fishing dives in the lake.

 The Peanut and I hiked the whole trail area, while Mr. ReddHedd brought the car around first to Lookout Point -- where we all got out and hiked over to the viewing platform for a bit, spotting a red-headed woodpecker like the one that visits our feeder.  Then The Peanut and I hiked over to Fisherman's Point while Mr. ReddHedd drove over and parked there -- turned out to be a good plan, because it was a little cool first thing in the morning and a ride back to the main parking area was a nice warm-up for us.

Last time Mr. ReddHedd and I were there, the Great Blue Herons, along with some assorted snowy egrets, kingfishers and storks, had built these huge platform nests in the trees on the rookery island in the center of the lake.  Beneath a few nests that were hanging out over the water, an alligator sort of circled around with a "please let a baby fall out of the nest" grin on his toothy face.

Alas, no gators in sight the day we were there with The Peanut because it was just too cool and they weren't expending any extra energy on swimming.

Also, no nesting Great Blue Herons, which was a huge disappointment for me.  They are gorgeous birds and I had hoped The Peanut would get a glimpse of them within the Preserve, but there were none to be found.  It was an odd trip in that regard for us, because we hadn't seen any Great Blue Herons the entire time we had been on the island, and that is very unusual.

We drove back around from this area to the main parking area at Lake Joe, and then hiked the back trails over the Vanishing Swamp boardwalk and then over to the rice fields overlook.  We heard another woodpecker in the forest -- and I was hoping we'd get to see a Pileated Woodpecker as we had on a previous trip, but we only heard him from a distance.  They were doing some construction on the rice fields boardwalk area and I'm afraid the construction noise had a lot of the birds spooked and in hiding that day.

But the hike itself was lovely and we had a great time.

As we were leaving, we were driving out the back entrance and spotted a Great Blue Heron standing right at the side of the road, watching for fish in a nearby stream area.  We immediately found a parking spot and I sneaked over to get some close pictures of him -- it was really magical.  The Peanut got to see how huge he was up close, and I managed to snap a few good shots before he squawked at me and flew across the stream in a huff.

Here's another view.  Isn't he a beauty?

(Photos by Christy Hardin Smith.  All rights reserved.)

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