Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Birds and Babies and Alligators, Oh my!

Dyeyo and I enjoyed our hike around the Circle B Bar Reserve again this morning.  We saw our usual assortment of birds and babies, plus a few surprises…

The Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks continue to make Circle B their summer home.  Their calls can be heard all over the marshes at all hours of the morning.  We suspect they are nesting in the marshes not too far from Heron Hideout.  Hopefully we’ll get to see the babies!

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

We were pleasantly surprised to glance over and see a juvenile Least Bittern stalking its breakfast in a palm.  This bird was more out in the open than bitterns usually are, and the nice morning sun contributed to a good picture:

Juvenile Least Bittern

Juvenile Least Bittern

It seemed like there were Common Moorhens everywhere we turned this morning.  I suspect these are the second batch of babies this spring.  The moorhens have two broods each year, and the first set of babies hangs around to help with the second set (that’s a little unusual in the birdie world.)

Common Moorhen mother and baby

Common Moorhen mother and baby

This juvenile Common Moorhen was prancing around on top of a log, and just begging for me to take his picture.  Look at those big feet!

Common Moorhen juvenile

Common Moorhen juvenile

Marsh Rabbit Run was rather quiet this morning.  Dyeyo and I made our way up to Wading Bird Way, where we saw two Sand Hill Cranes.  As we watched, Dyeyo’s family (with the baby he’s been watching for the past few months) flew up and joined the other two.  A few seconds later, the first two flew off, honking.  I wonder what that baby said to them!? :)

Sand Hill Crane juvenile

Sand Hill Crane juvenile

A bunch of fussy birds flew overhead, and even before I could make them out clearly, I knew they must be Black-necked Stilts.  Those birds make so much noise!  We’ve never seen a group of them this big at Circle B.

Black-necked Stilts

Black-necked Stilts

A Tricolored Heron posed for us on Wading Bird Way, too.  We get our best great morning light shots down there!

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

There were more Common Moorhen babies on the way back on Marsh Rabbit Run.  They posed so nicely in the bright sunlight, and I couldn’t help taking lots of pictures.  (Can I ever?)

Common Moorhen juvenile

Common Moorhen juvenile

Common Moorhen juvenile

Common Moorhen juvenile

We found a new woodpecker nest in one of the trees at the intersection of Heron Hideout and Marsh Rabbit Run.  There weren’t any baby heads sticking out of this one (yet), but I got a fun shot of the mother carrying a big fat spider to her babies.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Over by the parking lot, we were attracted to some fussing at one of the nesting boxes.  On closer inspection, we saw that it was a group of Carolina Wrens.  The adults were coming and going into the nesting box with nesting material.  On the ground, there were babies!

Carolina Wren adult with nesting material

Carolina Wren adult with nesting material

Carolina Wren baby

Carolina Wren baby

It was a pretty quiet day at the Circle B.  There were very few birds on Marsh Rabbit Run at all.  We figured out why…we noticed a bunch of white things on the ground, which at first I mistook for stones, and then I realized they were eggs.  Then I realized that the only animal at Circle B that would lay eggs like that would be alligators.  Dyeyo and I snapped a few pictures and then got out of there.  One of the eggs was broken.  When we got home, we googled it, and verified that they were alligator eggs.  We notified the Circle B caretakers and now the trail is closed.  When the employees went to verify the location of the eggs, they said that there were two nests, and the gators were at one of the nests!

Alligator eggs

Alligator eggs