Wednesday, March 5, 2014

3/5/14 Osprey, Monkey Island

Beaufort, SC

     When you visit downtown Beaufort, there is an old draw-bridge that crosses the river.  A narrow sidewalk runs along the edge of the bridge - narrow enough that it can be a bit hectic to walk it.

     But it is well worth the walk.  The first thing that you will see is the water-front park Beaufort has put in.  This is a great park that runs all the way to the marina, with many seating areas and a host of restaurants along the back side.  In the summer, they break out a big screen in the pavilion and show a movie a week - movies that have been filmed in Beaufort.  These include Forest Gump, The Big Chill, The Great Santini, Prince of Tides, Rules of Engagement, Forces of Nature and others.  

     At the other end of the bridge is an interesting abandoned road bed and another park.

     But along the way, there is a great opportunity to shoot some wildlife shots.  The bridge is not so high that the water is out of reach, but it is high enough to give a unique perspective.

     On my way over, I spotted an Osprey in a nest built atop one of the pilings that protects the bridge from potential mishaps with boat traffic.

     And, it obviously spotted me also.  Osprey migrate to South America in the winter, and return to the same area each year to breed - usually with the same mate as they tend to mate for life.  According to locals, the males usually return from South America a bit before the females, and set about building a nest.  If the female upon her return finds the nest suitable, breeding commences.  Usually, however, the female spends a while lining the nest with smaller twigs and Spanish Moss.  It seems this female was in the inspection phase.

     The male, meanwhile, has been sitting on the pylon on the other side of the channel.  Here is a picture for perspective, and so you can see why the shots are a bit blurry.  This is the extreme edge of what a 300 mm lens can do.  And also a photo of the male on the other pylon awaiting the results of the inspection.

     Soon the female flew across the channel and landed close to the male, and based on the series of 200 shots I took it appeared that the nest was approved.  For those that can walk this bridge, it should be a marvelous opportunity to observe a bird that is usually difficult to photograph.  

     I shot about a hundred and fifty shots throughout this series - what a great angle to capture this.  Supposedly incubation is 58 days, so if I can make it back to Beaufort in early May you can be sure I will be trying to get some shots of the parents feeding fish to the chicks.  If I can come across a 500 mm lens by then, the shots should be pristine.

     A thorn in my side though has been an island the locals call "Monkey Island."  It is said that upwards of 3,000 monkeys live in the wild on the island, where they are kept by a laboratory to be used in experiments.  I originally heard about it while working with some of the local fishermen.  I found where the guys that work with the monkeys dock every evening, and approached them to see if I could get permission to be on the island.  They were quite opposed to the notion.  I can get pictures of the island from about two miles away - but that doesn't show anything.  Locals say you don't dare land  on the beach because the monkeys will trash your boat in search of food.  I found a photo online that was taken from someone on a boat - I guess this is as good as it will get.

photo acquired online

Have a great Thursday !!

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