The Black-crowned Night Herons of White Point Gardens ~ Graduating Class of 2018!  

Every hot and humid Charleston summer the live oaks in White Point Gardens become the nesting grounds for Black-crowned Night Herons. Some people know it as Battery Park but the official name is White Point Gardens. The Gardens are in the historic district of downtown Charleston just south of Broad on the southern tip of the peninsula. Every summer it is hoped that the night herons return. This summer was no exception!

Last summer was our first experience seeing the night herons enjoying the park. They were walking down the sidewalk, jumping up on park benches, and sleeping and resting on low hanging branches, where it was quite easy to get up close to them. They acted like they owned the place, seemingly unafraid of the public.  

They like to hang out around and on the military statues, on the cannons and piles of cannonballs, which were placed in the park after the Civil War. They nest in the very trees that the pirate Stede Bonnet and his men were hanged on! The place is said to be haunted but the night herons don’t seem to mind.  

Most of the summer the juveniles remain in their nest with the adults tending to them. You can hear the chatter back and forth and get glimpses of them up through the trees. But around Labor Day weekend the juveniles find their wings and can be spotted all around the park. 

I didn’t want this summer going by without checking out the Class of 2018. This season’s young ones didn’t disappoint. There are quite a few of them and they are becoming active. I took a number of photographs and thought I’d share some of them with you. 

Class Troublemaker!

Class Troublemaker!

Top of His Class!

Top of His Class!

Most Likely to Succeed!

Most Likely to Succeed!

Most Adventuresome!

Most Adventuresome!

Class President!

Class President!

Best Dressed!

Best Dressed!

Class Clown!

Class Clown!

Best Looking!

Best Looking!

Most Likely to Improve!

Most Likely to Improve!

Let’s hope they all fly off to lead healthy and productive lives. Soon they will return to White Point Gardens as adults and have nests of their own. Funny how time flies!  ☺  

Please check back soon to see what’s on my easel next. I’m thinking it might be another marsh painting???  


One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion...
— William R. Beebe
What's next?  Drawing by William R. Beebe

What's next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe

Birding at Huntington Beach State Park ~ worth the trip!  

We’ve been meaning to make the short hour and 15 minute drive north from Mount Pleasant, SC, to Huntington Beach State Park for a while now. A local birder told me that there are Roseated Spoonbills there throughout the summer, a bird I haven’t seen much in our short time living in South Carolina. I’d heard from a number of sources that it is one of the best birdwatching locations in the state. They were right!  I took over 500 pics in a couple of hours.  

As we drove into the 2500 acre park the road turned into a causeway over a large saltmarsh. Birds of many kinds were on both sides of the street feeding at low tide in the shallow water. Anhingas were drying their wings while perched on posts. Egrets and herons were flying back and forth over the causeway.  Spoonbills were off in the distance.

Anhinga getting ready to take off after drying its wings.

Anhinga getting ready to take off after drying its wings.

Great White Egret

Great White Egret

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

We knew the causeway would be a great place to photograph but we started further into the park at the marsh boardwalk. White Ibis and Snowy Egrets were feeding close by the boardwalk. A Green Heron was lurking in-between the railing, walking down the boardwalk, and dancing on the top railing!  

Green Heron busting a move!

Green Heron busting a move!

Another location in the park was a favorite of this Little Blue Heron. He was all alone, but from a birding platform we were able to spot various kinds of herons and egrets flying back and forth from fairly close up.  

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

The causeway allows birders to photograph on both sides of the road, which is ideal because you can count on having the sun at your back most of the time, if you so choose. It also allows you to look out over the expansive marshland. Today happened to have a big sky with a dramatic cloud formation over the marsh. I’ve been looking for marsh scenes to paint and this one might be on the list.  

Huntington Beach Marsh

Huntington Beach Marsh

I saw more Green Herons and Tricolored Herons than I’ve ever seen in one location. There were plenty of Great White Egrets too. We didn’t get to see the Roseated Spoonbills up close, so that will have to be on another trip. 

As we were getting ready to leave, this beautiful Tricolored Heron flew up onto the boardwalk railing. I was struck by its size and coloring.

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

I’m sure there are certain times of day and year that Huntington Beach State Park would have many more birds than we saw today, but I was more than pleased with what we saw in our short time there. I can’t wait to go back.

Two Anhingas

Two Anhingas

I hope you like the pics of the birds that made the cut for this blog. Some might find there way into future paintings. 

Thanks for reading my journal and following my art and photography. I will be finishing a small shrimp boat scene in the next few days and will be posting a blog about it soon thereafter.  Thanks!!!


One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion...
— William R. Beebe
What's next?  Drawing by William R. Beebe

What's next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe

Mergansers in the Hood ~ future painting material!

It was a very cold New Year’s Eve day but I thought I’d head over anyway to the Pitt Street Bridge in Mount Pleasant, SC, to do a little birding. I was hoping I might see a few Hooded Merganser ducks in order to get better pictures of them for painting material.  

 Since I was taking the day off from painting I timed my outing around low tide. Wading birds, ducks, and other shorebirds love to feed at low tide, so there is usually much more birding activity at feeding time.  

Even though it was cold and the sun was going behind the clouds, the birds were out enjoying the last day of 2017, feeding in the fertile wetlands on either side of the old bridge that is now disconnected and maintained as a park-like area for walking dogs, fishing, birding, and enjoying sunsets.  The wetlands are home to oysters, clams, mussels, crawfish, and small fish, providing a free-for-all seafood diet for the birds.  

The male Hooded Merganser has a black and white crested head, which inflates and looks oversized when it is trying to attract the female mergansers.  The females are understated in coloring, but elegant in their own way with a cinnamon colored crest, which also inflates but not quite as much as the male.  

william-r-beebe-hooded-mergansers4.jpg
william-r-beebe-hooded-mergansers6.jpg

They have a cool look with energetic and sometimes funny behaviors, which I find fascinating. When the males rise out of the water and flap their wings it is always amusing.  

william-r-beebe-hooded-mergansers8.jpg

Well, my hunch was right and the Hooded Mergansers were actively feeding up and down the waterway through the marsh grasses. They were so active that they didn’t mind people like me stopping to take their picture. Other birds like a Tri-colored Heron, a Little Blue Heron, and a Snowy Egret were joining them along the shoreline, jabbing at fish that the ducks seemed to be stirring up and confusing in the water.  

william-r-beebe-hooded-mergansers1.jpg
william-r-beebe-hooded-mergansers2.jpg

It was at times a feeding frenzy. At other points they were just paddling around and enjoying a cold swim. I have rarely seen Hooded Mergansers, but seeing so many up close in their natural habitat and so active was a field day for me. I took hundreds of photos that day, even though the sun wasn’t cooperating.  

william-r-beebe-hooded-mergansers3.jpg

Here are a few more pictures from my last birding outing in 2017. It was very productive for I now have enough resource material to do a number of paintings of Hooded Mergansers when the time is right.  

william-r-beebe9.jpg
william-r-beebe-hooded-mergansers5.jpg
william-r-beebe-hooded-mergansers7.jpg
william-r-beebe-hooded-mergansers10.jpg

I hope you enjoy seeing the pics!  Thank you as always for your interest in reading my journal and for following my art and photography.  

I’m currently working on a big painting of a Charleston street scene featuring a horse and carriage ride through the historic French Quarter.  I will be blogging about the finished painting in the next week or so.  

I hope you have a wonderful 2018!


One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion...
— William R. Beebe
What's next?  Drawing by William R. Beebe

What's next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe

Same Place, Same Time ~ Going to the Dance!

It was May 25th, 2014 when we witnessed two Great Blue Herons at Queens Lake performing a mating ritual dance around each other. The moment was such a unique experience for two relatively new birders that we came home and I wrote a blog about it.  Then I painted the scene and entitled it The Dance.  I wrote that it was a special moment that I might never witness again.  I was wrong!

The Dance    by William R. Beebe, 14 x 16, oil on board, $2800

The Dance by William R. Beebe, 14 x 16, oil on board, $2800

We haven’t been birding much lately.  I’ve been busy trying to finish up a portrait and starting a Charleston painting.  Not to mention, planning on a move and having that fall through.  A few days ago I said to Jen, “Would you like to go to Queens Lake and go birding?”  

When we arrived there were 6 to 8 Blue Herons scattered around the river.  There were also a few Great White Egrets and a Snowy Egret enjoying easy pickings at low tide.  I focused on the Blue Heron closest to us.  After about 5 minutes it became spooked and flew up river, landing right next to a rather large Blue. That’s when it happened all over again!!!

It was almost the exact same time, just one day later in the month, two years later at the exact same location, Queens Lake, VA.  Was it the same two herons???  After all they are territorial.  

We watched in amazement as they raised their feathers and strutted around each other with their beaks pointed toward the heavens.  This time they were even more active, occasionally taking to the air as if to fly away, only to return and pick up where they left off.  

Fortunately, this time I had my new Canon zoom lens and the distance wasn’t as challenging as last time. My photos turned out pretty well all things considered and I thought I’d share them with you.  

I love the artistic nature of their dance, like a beautiful ballet.  It was as if it was choreographed in advance. It was a graceful, elegant dance with moments of separation as if to symbolize a breakup.  

Thank you for reading my journal and following my art and photography.  The next blog will be about something painting related, so please check back soon.  Thanks again!


One of the joys of being an artist is having the freedom to follow my passion...
— William R. Beebe
What's next?  Drawing by William R. Beebe

What's next?

Drawing by William R. Beebe