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Black-Bellied Whistling Ducklings at the Circle B Bar Reserve!

Dyeyo and I spent another great morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve today.  We went with hopes of seeing some migratory warblers or wading birds.  Dyeyo did see a Northern Parula, but our major excitements today were the Yellow-Crowned Night Warbler and the baby Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks!

The sunrise was slow this morning.  Dyeyo and I are used to getting to Circle B at 6:30 am, and these days, the sun is rising later and later.  There was also some cloudcover.  So we had hiked Heron Hideout and gotten around to the Eagle Roost before taking our first pictures.

These Sand Hill Cranes were quite picturesque as they flew in front of the rising sun.  I wonder if Dyeyo’s baby was one of them?

Sand Hill Cranes flying over Eagle Roost at sunrise

Sand Hill Cranes flying over Eagle Roost at sunrise

We saw two adult Bald Eagles sitting above the nest in the Eagle Roost.  They’re back for the winter!

I’d been wanting to see the Wading Bird Way at sunrise, and today I got my wish.

Wading Bird Way sunrise

Wading Bird Way sunrise

It’s been a few weeks since we’ve hiked around to Wading Bird Way.  It’s a long and hot walk around the Eagle Roost and/or Windmill Whisper and Shady Oak to get to Wading Bird Way right now, with Marsh Rabbit Run closed.

I had hoped to see a few migrant shorebirds.  At one point I thought I saw a Caspian Tern in flight, but I didn’t get a picture.  The birds that we did see on Wading Bird Way were mostly Common Moorhens – adults, juveniles, and babies.  Some of the juveniles’ beaks had started to turn red.  This little family was swimming together…have they ever heard the expression about “getting all your ducks in a row?”

Common Moorhen juveniles

Common Moorhen juveniles

We made our way back through the oak trees along the Shady Oak trail without seeing too many birds.  One tree was hopping with little voices, and there we saw Tufted Titmice, and Dyeyo saw a Northern Parula.  But the hawks were fussing overhead and we didn’t see many other little birds.  We made our way out Heron Hideout again, then out the Alligator Alley trail.  I was pleased to get this image of a Wood Stork in flight with a fish — it’s too bad I didn’t frame it a little better, though.

Wood Stork

Wood Stork

There were Wood Storks and White Ibises everywhere down at the marshy edge of Lake Hancock.  We were amazed at the sheer number of birds. The White Ibises were all kind of clucking — maybe they were happy at all the nice bugs they were finding for breakfast?

Then suddenly the calm was shattered by the noise of an airboat, and the birds all took to flight:

Wood Stork Frenzy

Wood Stork Frenzy

We saw this Yellow-crowned Night Heron a few feet away from the feeding White Ibises.  Amazingly, the heron stayed and posed for us for over 15 minutes.  (Finally!  Dyeyo’s been told that this guy was around, but we’d never seen him before.)

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

Yellow-Crowned Night Heron

As usual, the air was filled with the sounds of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks.  Their calls are so sweet!  Two of them posed for me down by the lake:

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

But the best part was when we checked back up on Heron Hideout, looking for the baby Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks.  We found them almost hidden in some plants on the left side of Heron Hideout, very close to the path to the parking lot.  The babies are so cute with their black and yellow stripes, and so very different from their parents!  The parents were sticking close together and they kept the babies very close too.  So I took individual shots of Mama and Papa with the babies that were near each.

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck family

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck family

So maybe next week, Dyeyo will finally get to see the Red-Headed Woodpecker?  and then soon, hopefully very soon, Marsh Rabbit Run will be open again, and migratory birds will come to winter at Circle B!

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Want to know more about photographing at Circle B Bar Reserve?

Check out my Circle B Bar Reserve page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!
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