“In my mind I’m gone to Carolina.”
This week, after returning from our “evacu-cation” to avoid Hurricane Matthew’s wrath, I was gifted with an incredible photography experience on the waters of nearby Rockville, South Carolina. Those of us who live along the coast agree we have a deeper appreciation for nature’s many gifts as well as her ability to destroy them at whim. Blessed to have escaped her wrath with minimal damage, we accompany our relief with a new respect for nature’s power.
“Sweet Caroline, Good times never seemed so good.”
Some time ago a few friends and I scheduled a private day of photography on the water with local professional Eric Horan . At the time of course, we had no idea we’d be following a hurricane by little more than a week. From the start the day was glorious, with a deep red sky at sunrise (yes, I DID get up long before the sun to make the excursion!) and a light breeze that carried a taste of southern autumn. We were treated with a special moment early in our adventure as two massive shrimp boats were making their way to deeper waters.
“South Carolina low country is the music that comes outta me.”
The object of our photography adventure was a hunt for the hundreds, maybe thousands of birds that make their home on the banks of Deveaux Island, an untouched 215-acre bird sanctuary just off the coast of neighboring Seabrook Island. The island is horseshoe-shaped and offers a perfect spot for the nesting grounds of many of our native species.
“My heart sings a Carolina love song.”
Hank Martin and Buzz Arledge
Although the day started out with relative calm, the seas soon turned choppy as the wind picked up and the sun began moving in and out of the clouds. Because of the island’s horseshoe shape, like the birds we were able to find shelter from the chop and were amazed by the number of species we came upon. Sadly, although it looked perfect to us, our guide, who is intimately familiar with the area, observed that a large part of the banks had washed away and disappeared as a result of the storm.
“Nothing could be finer than to be in Carolina in the morning.”
We came upon yet another sign of the recent storm – a shrimp boat that hadn’t survived Matthew’s winds. Obviously the pelicans who roost nearby were more resilient. I wondered aloud about what happens to the birds in a hurricane. Those who stayed rather than evacuate spoke of the eerie calm before the storm hit, as all the wildlife seemed to disappear before the worst winds arrived. Scientists tell us that birds have multiple survival strategies, including making their way into the eye of the storm and riding along with it. This strategy can move them hundreds or thousands of miles from their home ground depending on the storm’s duration and path. Others hunker down to ride out the storm, or find refuge in places like woodpecker tree holes. Sadly, we know that bird mortality is fairly high during major storms.
“Carolina, you’re hard but you’re hard to forget.”
The Charlie Daniels Band
Although we are fortunate to have many species of birds on Kiawah, I have never seen so many congregating at once. I was also surprised at the number of species that intermingle comfortably together despite their differences. Perhaps we humans could learn a bit from them on that front!
The oyster catchers, pictured above, were among my favorites of the day. Proudly sporting their long red beaks they gathered en masse, without seeming to care that the much larger pelicans took pleasure in landing directly on their heads 😀. Apparently tolerance is another bird quality we might benefit from learning.
“I’m dreaming Carolina dreams.”
Our little adventure included the challenge of capturing birds in flight while shooting from a small boat in choppy waters. The beauty of today’s technology is that it allows one to shoot at a high enough ISO to capture motion without too much grain. That said, all of my photos today have been run through Nik’s Dfine and Lightroom’s dehaze software to remove graininess from the final images.
“South Carolina, stars in her eyes.”
I couldn’t resist closing with yet another capture of one of the shrimp boats heading out into the sun. To me it speaks of the beauty of our lowcounty waters, as the sun casts a bit of melancholy on the end of a beautiful day. My apologies for a longer-than-usual post, but as you might guess, I am very happy to be home, where the local flavor of the sea is once again a blessing rather than a curse. Sincere thanks to everyone for your good wishes during Matthew’s onslaught. To visit other responses to Jen’s “local” challenge, click here.