Dyeyo and I went to the Circle B Bar Reserve at 6:30 this morning to enjoy the early morning light with our birds. Unfortunately, the sun didn’t really come up because it was so cloudy. We still had a good time birding.
The first bird we saw was this Little Blue Heron, who posed for us before the sun had really come up. I tried fill flash and got some birdie red eye. So this was a non-flash image with some fill flash added in Lightroom:
As the sun came up, we were on Wading Bird Way and saw a Common Moorhen family. We’ve been watching the chicks grow up for the past few weeks, and they’ve gotten pretty big. Then the mother posed by herself just as the sun hit her.
Nearby, an Anhinga was sitting on a post, stalking fish for his breakfast. He seemed to be thinking about flying away, and I waited for a while trying to get the flight shot, but he didn’t want to cooperate (even after Dyeyo walked towards him, “talking” to him!) So I got a “sunning” shot instead.
As we turned onto Marsh Rabbit Run, we saw the same Red-Winged Blackbirds that tried to run us off last week. We figured that their nest was near. We were right – today we saw the juvenile birds.
A bit farther down, we saw our Black-headed Stilt family again. We watched as the mother fussed and fussed at some nearby Sand Hill Cranes, who just happened to be passing through the general area. Mama got pretty upset, and Papa came over too, and they both started flying at the cranes.
The Black-headed Stilt babies have grown since last week. I think their legs are even longer, and their feathers have lost of of the “fuzzy baby” feel to them. It was very hard to get a good picture, with the low light, marshy background, and the distance to the birds. This was my best shot.
We didn’t see the baby Purple Gallinules today. The new Sand Hill Crane nest was still under incubation (it’s at the third bench on the left, when walking towards Heron Hideout on Marsh Rabbit Run.) Those poor babies are going to have a hard time, given that their mother started incubating at a time when most of this spring’s babies are fledging.
There were more Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks today. Dyeyo seems to chuckle when I take pictures of them (he says he already has good shots of them). But I say that I can always get a better one, maybe even on a day with low light! I liked the way these two were posed on this dead tree:
We walked back towards the parking lot to look for Dyeyo’s Sand Hill Crane babies. For all the weeks he has been watching them, they have taken a very regular path through the marsh each morning. Today we didn’t see a feather of them as we walked around, and I think Dyeyo was disappointed. Maybe as disappointed as I was when I saw my Osprey’s nest, which last week held two tiny babies, totally abandoned this week. We assumed that the nest was damaged during one of the bad thunderstorms a few days ago. :(
Posing pretty in one of the oak trees near the parking lot was another Black-Bellied Whistling Duck. The sun peeked out for a few seconds, allowing me to get a nicely front-lit image:
Since the sun was behind the clouds and it was a little breezy, we walked along Shady Oak trail out to Alligator Alley, to look for Dyeyo’s Sand Hill Crane baby. We never found the crane, but we did see this baby armadillo (and we were told that we’d just missed seeing the bobcat that frequents Circle B).
As we walked past a clump of big old oak trees, all of a sudden I realized I was being watched, by a big Barred Owl sitting out on a branch in front, just a few feet away. He flew before I could get his picture, and I was annoyed that I’d missed the shot. Then we turned around and I saw his friend sitting not quite so close, but still very photographable. I dialed in some exposure compensation and fired away. This picture was my favorite because of the turn of the bird’s head as he stopped watching us to resume searching for his next prey. (His attention shifted back to us each time we moved. It was fun to watch him watching us watch him!)
As we headed back to the parking lot, we saw this hawk fussing his head off right next to the path. He let us get pretty close. I think he’s a juvenile Cooper’s Hawk. The juvenile Cooper’s and Sharp-Shinned Hawks look very similar, but the Sharp-Shinneds leave Florida in the summertime. The Cooper’s Hawks are here year round (unfortunately for our backyard birds!)
We left, with Dyeyo resigning himself to not seeing “his” Sand Hill Crane baby. He’s been watching it since it was born, and Dyeyo’s gotten attached. :) But as we drove out of the Reserve, Dyeyo suddenly pulled over, and there was his baby, sauntering along with its parents. They took a different path through the marsh today. So Dyeyo got his picture after all. :)
As I turned right onto Winter Lake Road, I saw another Sand Hill Crane family, this one with two babies. The cranes were poking around the grass near the road, and as I pulled out, they were crossing Winter Lake Road. I think they were another one of the families that we often see on Wading Bird Way. The babies are certainly growing up…I hope they remember to look both ways before crossing major roads!