Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Magical Sunrise at Circle B Bar Reserve

The sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning was magnificent!  The drive over from Orlando was very very foggy, and as the sun rose and burned off the fog over the marsh, the light was just beautiful.  I looked over at a common bunch of grasses, illuminated by the sunrise.  The golden glow was gorgeous.

Sunrise grasses

Sunrise grasses

There were dragonflies resting on top of the grasses.  I wish I had taken a little more time to get out the extension tubes for some closer-up shots, especially with the dragonflies that were backlit by the golden sunrise.  Oh well, next weekend!  This was my favorite dragonfly shot of the day:

Dew-covered Dragonfly

Dew-covered Dragonfly

Both of the sunrise grass pictures were taken on Heron Hideout.  It was weird to walk back that way a few hours later, and see the same scene turned back into boring green grass.  Sunrise light really does work magic!

As we turned onto Marsh Rabbit Run, we saw a grackle fussing, and we assumed we were too close to his nest.  Then we realized that his friend on an adjacent tree wasn’t a grackle, but a Green Heron!  The Green Herons are usually hard to find, but this is the second time we’ve seen one in this area at dawn.

Green Heron

Green Heron

The Sand Hill crane is still incubating on her nest off Marsh Rabbit Run (look to the right around the first bench on Marsh Rabbit Run, when heading towards Wading Bird Way).  She’s been incubating for the last three weekends, so we might see a baby next weekend.

There was a Glossy Ibis nicely lit by the rising sun.  I haven’t many good Glossy Ibis pictures, and this one definitely shows off the “glossy” part.

Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis

Dyeyo and I almost walked by the Purple Gallinule nest.  I looked back and saw one of the adults, then noticed the black baby nearby.  When we focused our cameras on the baby, a second baby popped up to pose also.

Purple Gallinule Babies

Purple Gallinule Babies

The mother and father gallinules stayed very close to their babies.  I loved how their feathers shone in the sun.  I hope the babies stick around for long enough for us to watch them molt into their colorful “juvenile” plumage, which is lighter than the adult plumage.

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule

Across the dike and down a bit is the Black-Necked Stilt nest.  We heard the mother fussing before we saw the stilts today.  The babies have gotten bigger, and I guess the mother isn’t quite as protective now, because there was a pair of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks right next to the stilts, and the mother didn’t run them off.   The birds are so far out in the marsh that it’s really hard to photograph them, and this was my best shot.  (A lot of my pictures were noisy today.  I’m not sure why.  They weren’t at a high ISO.)

Black-Necked Stilt Family

Black-Necked Stilt Family

Standing by the stilt family, we watched as a family of Sand Hill Cranes landed on Wading Bird Way.  I asked Dyeyo if they were “his” family, and he said he didn’t think so, because they were too far away from their usual path.  Yet as we made our way over there, Dyeyo recognized “his” baby (the one he’s been watching weekly since it was born).  The family let us say hello, then Baby stretched his wings and flew off with his parents!  Dyeyo was very pleased to see that “Baby flew!”

Juvenile Sand Hill Crane

Juvenile Sand Hill Crane

I couldn’t resist photographing a few Anhingas on Wading Bird Way.  The light was hitting their feathers and bringing out every feature.  They really are pretty birds!

Anhinga

Anhinga

Anhinga

Anhinga

There was another Black-Necked Stilt on Wading Bird Way, and he let us get fairly close to photograph him.  I think this may be my best stilt picture yet.  Look at that red eye!

Black-Necked Stilt

Black-Necked Stilt

Another poser on Wading Bird Way was this juvenile Little Blue Heron.  I wonder if he’s the same bird who posed for us there last week?  There have been an increased number of Little Blues all around the marshes in the past few weeks.  I certainly see more Little Blues than Tricolored Herons (exactly opposite from the rookeries.)

Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Even Dyeyo stopped to photograph this “Fisherbird”, a Great Blue Heron who was hunting for his breakfast on Wading Bird Way.  His head contrasts so nicely with the bright blue lake in the pretty morning light.  I noticed that the bird had a beautiful reflection in the water, too, so I photographed that as well.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron (Reflection)

Great Blue Heron (Reflection)

We saw a bunch of little Red-Winged Blackbirds running around this morning.  They aren’t quite as proficient at flying as their parents, so it’s fairly easy to pick them out.  Several of them had very scruffy looking tail feathers, too.

Juvenile Red-Winged Blackbirds

Juvenile Red-Winged Blackbirds

As we turned into the Eagle Roost, Eastern Meadowlarks greeted us from the tops of the small pine trees.  I’ve yet to get a “great” picture of an Eastern Meadowlark, but this one isn’t bad.  We were a bit disappointed not to see any Eagle activity in the big nest.

Eastern Meadowlark

Eastern Meadowlark

The rest of the walk through the Eagle Roost was uneventful.  Dyeyo didn’t hear his Northern Bobwhite at all (maybe the bird decided not to torment Dyeyo today – nice bird!)

We passed the old Osprey nest on the way to the parking lot.   The nest had babies two weeks ago, and we suspect the bottom was blown out in one of the recent bad thunderstorms.  Today there was a single Osprey back on the nest.  I wonder if she is thinking of re-building?

Osprey nest

Osprey nest

Despite the heat, Dyeyo and I decided to walk the Alligator Alley trail, in search of owls, the panther, and Pileated Woodpeckers.  We didn’t see any of those, but we did find this Black-Crowned Night Heron, sitting very still as he fished for a snack.  I’d never seen a Black-Crowned Night Heron before, probably because the birds are mostly nocturnal.

Black-Crowned Night Heron

Black-Crowned Night Heron

A marsh rabbit was eating some greenery on the side of the trail.  He let us get very close before running off.

Marsh Rabbit

Marsh Rabbit

So Dyeyo made sure to rub in the fact that I have to go to work in the morning and he doesn’t…not fair!  I’d happily go back to the Circle B Bar Reserve in the morning. :)

I took several series of shots to stitch together into panoramas.

Marsh Rabbit Run

Marsh Rabbit Run

Wading Bird Way

Wading Bird Way