Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Rainy Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Finally!  We got some rain!  Although it cut our morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve a little short, it also kept our hike cooler than usual.  And boy did we need the rain!

The morning started out darker than usual, due to the cloudcover.  We took the Shady Oak trail and got all the way out to Lake Hancock before sunrise.  We were rewarded by a fun sunrise.

Sunrise over Lake Hancock

Sunrise over Lake Hancock

I had read that if you stop down to a high f-number aperture and shoot the sun, you are more likely to get the beams of light radiating from the sun.  So I tried it…and it worked! :)

Sunrise over Lake Hancock

Sunrise over Lake Hancock

We did not see the Barred Owls in their usual tree at the end of the dock.  As a matter of fact, we walked a long way before we even took our first pictures.  The rain yesterday and the cloudcover today kept the birds from their usual early-morning activity.  I stopped to look at an Osprey holding a fish, when Dyeyo noticed this Barred Owl standing right in front of us.  He flew to a nearby tree after we started watching him.  He was clearly in hunt mode, turning his head all round to watch for food below him.

Barred Owl

Barred Owl

There were Wood Storks everywhere!  As the Alligator Alley trail turned away from Lake Hancock, there were trees out in the marsh covered in birds, including herons, egrets, osprey, and storks.   It was fun to see the number of juvenile Wood Storks.  I took this picture during one of the few moments that the sun decided to grace the landscape with a few rays of soft light…

Wood Storks

Wood Storks

After reading about the wood-warbler migration progress in other parts of Florida, we kept a close eye and ear out for little birds.  Unfortunately we didn’t see any migrants.  But we did see our family of Great-Crested Flycatchers, which we haven’t seen for a few weeks.  Their tails were distinctly brown, making me think we were seeing juveniles.

Great-Crested Flycatcher

Great-Crested Flycatcher

We started to head out the Eagle Roost around to Wading Bird Way, but turned back when we started to feel raindrops.  The rain kindly held off as we made our way back.  On Heron Hideout, close to the parking lot trail, we ran into “Dyeyo’s baby” Sandhill Crane.  He has certainly grown in the past few weeks that we haven’t been seeing him regularly!

Juvenile Sand Hill Crane

Juvenile Sand Hill Crane

The juvenile’s head has started to turn red — not quite as deep a red as his parents’ yet, but still pretty red.  He’s almost as tall as his parents, too.  How quickly these little birds grow up… :)

Juvenile Sandhill Crane headshot

Juvenile Sandhill Crane headshot

Adult Sandhill Crane headshot

Adult Sandhill Crane headshot

The family was strolling up Heron Hideout, not at all bothered by the six or so people who marveled at our ability to come so close to them.  (A volunteer at the Reserve mentioned that a lot of people feed these birds.  That’s unfortunate, as too much confidence in people can be bad for the birds’ long-term survival.)  The birds were hopping around a lot, displaying and flapping their wings.  All third birds joined in the dance.   The baby especially was hopping each time he picked up food in his beak.  It was fun to watch…I’d love to know what those birds were thinking as they hopped around!

Sand Hill Crane family

Sand Hill Crane family

We finally saw the Wild Turkey family in decent light as they crossed Heron Hideout on their way to the marsh.  We always see them in the Nature Center area at dawn, when it is too dark to get a picture.  Now maybe next week we’ll see them in good sunlight for a really good picture.

Wild Turkey family

Wild Turkey family

Maybe next week we’ll see some migrants?