Gators and other wildlife on Bald Head Island

Monday, 20 June 2016
This is a big boy that we found on the golf course. He was chilling on the lagoon bank and didn't like it when we walked up (not too close mind you). He started moving to the water and slid in. The red that you see on the grass is a line for golfers. (I'm worried that someone will think it is blood - LOL.) 
Alligators are pretty cool creatures. Like crocodiles, they will sit outside the water and open their mouths to warm up. Gators were almost once extinct but they've made a great recovery. They've received bad press lately but they are interesting to watch (from afar).
The Bald Head Island Conservancy arranges some interesting tours and educational programs regarding nature on the island. We went on a birding tour that takes patrons to the Ibis Sanctuary to see White Ibis and their "chicks." The Ibis are on the right in the above photo and the bird on the left is a Great Egret. 
This was a fun experience because even after going to the island for 15 years, I've never been to the Ibis Sanctuary. It is located in Middle Island and the residents of that part of the island have exclusive access to the protected area. We were able to visit with the conservancy intern after paying a small fee for the tour.
Aren't Great Egrets majestic? I just love their beautiful plumage. The educational intern with us (Elizabeth) explained that Great Egrets were hunted for their amazing feathers and almost became extinct in the 1900s. This sparked some of the first movements to protect birds.
The highlight of the tour was seeing the colorful Painted Bunting (above). I'm including a photo from Audobon.org so that you can see the bird more closely. Can you believe the vivid red, blue, and green feathers? We now know their distinctive call so we have been watching for them around our house.

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