American Avocet in Flight at Donnelly
Photo of the Month / Eric Horan
April/2012 Lowcountry Calendar
Donnelly Wildlife Management Area is located in the heart of South Carolina’s pristine ACE Basin, one of the largest undeveloped estuaries on the East Coast. Owned by the state and operated by the South Carolina Department of Natural Resources, the area is managed for multiple use that includes protecting the natural resources for resident and migrating species but also for related wildlife recreational opportunities for the public. One of the advantages of visiting Donnelly is the variety of ecosystems you can explore. These include forested wetlands, managed rice fields, tidal marsh, agricultural lands and a variety of upland trees including a natural stand of long-leaf pine.
My friend Marvin Bauknight and I planned our visit last January hoping to photograph the Black-Neck Stilt and American Avocet before they moved north to their summer homes. On the drive in, we spotted a group of Avocet foraging in about four to eight inches of water in one of the old rice compounds. We knew we would scare them off if we set up in plain sight, so we decided to prepare our photo gear and quietly approach the pond through the adjacent wooded forest. Also, we kept the sun at our backs. As we emerged from the forest, a Bald Eagle flew over the Avocets and every bird that had been on the water was now in the air. Working quickly with a tripod-mounted 500mm lens, I was able to track the Avocets as they made this collective sweeping turn.
Photo Tip: Choosing a specific species may be the start of my plans, but when touring Donnelly, I know the variety of photo opportunities and surprise is heightened. With 8500 acres of rich diversity, I like to keep my options open. In our Avocet situation, the eagle was kind enough to provide the surprise, but this time I was ready. The simple preparations of getting my camera lens and trip pod set with pre-determined, proper exposure and keeping the natural light source on my subject, I had the freedom to concentrate solely on what was in the frame
For more information about Eric Horan Photography, Inc., and Lowcountry Wildlife Photo Safaris or to order your 2012 Lowcountry Calendar visit www.horanphoto.com