Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Migrants Making their Way to Circle B

It was a cloudy, foggy, and humid morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  As we headed out Heron Hideout into more and more fog, we doubted that we would see much.  But it turned out to be our most productive species morning in several months.  The migratory birds are definitely making their way back to Circle B!

We started out on Heron Hideout, where we basically observed fog.  It had just rained within the last few hours, and there were puddles everywhere. We arrived at sunrise, but there was no sun to be seen with such thick cloudcover and fog.  So we decided to avoid the mosquitoes of Alligator Alley and take the Eagle Roost over to Wading Bird Way.

As always, the Common Moorhens were entertaining on Wading Bird Way.  We saw at least three generations of birds, with adults, early spring juveniles, and fairly young babies.

I liked this juxtaposition image of the adult and an early spring juvenile:

Common Moorhen

Common Moorhen

There was just one tiny baby, and it was swimming around a lot in open water, with just one older chick keeping an eye on it.  Earlier in the spring, there were dozens of babies, and the parents kept them tucked tight close to vegetation.

Common Moorhen mother and baby

Common Moorhen mother and baby

Wading Bird Way was dominated today by the Limpkins, most of them feasting on apple snails.  There were empty snail shells all the way along the path.  Usually the Limpkins are fairly skittish, but today they were too intent on hunting for their breakfasts to worry much about the birdie paparazzi stalking them!

Limpkin

Limpkin

On the far side of Wading Bird Way, I spied a juvenile Pied-Bellied Grebe.  He was fishing for his breakfast, and we were surprised by how far he’d move when he was underwater.

Pied-Bellied Grebe

Pied-Bellied Grebe

The usual Snowy Egret and Tricolored Herons were at the culverts, which were overflowing with water.  The marsh water levels were so high today, after all the rain this week.

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

We looked up and saw some Laughing Gulls flying overhead.  Then we saw some more.  Overall we saw at least twenty birds, but all of them flying.  None landed to pose for us.

Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull

We decided to walk back through the Eagle Roost, rather than continuing up all the way to Windmill Whisper.  We figured the path would be covered in water, and we didn’t feel like fighting with mosquitoes.

We saw more Common Moorhen juveniles.  This juvenile has already acquired his bright red beak of adulthood:

Common Moorhen juvenile

Common Moorhen juvenile

Back on Heron Hideout, we saw this juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron fishing near a culvert.  He flew off to a branch when he saw us.  Dyeyo didn’t believe me that he was a night heron juvenile!

Juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron

Juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron

As we turned onto Alligator Alley, determined to brave the mosquitoes in hopes of seeing Wood Storks, we were rewarded by seeing our first warbles of the season!  First we heard a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, then we spied him hopping around in the top of a tree.

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher

These pictures are not great, due to the amount of backlighting.  I had to turn up the exposure compensation and fix the noise in post-processing.  But it’s fun to document our first sightings of these birds this fall!

Near the Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, we found a small flock of American Redstarts.  Their fanned-out tails are distinctive.

American Redstart female

American Redstart female

I spied a couple of Prairie Warblers, too.

Prairie Warbler

Prairie Warbler

I couldn’t identify this bird when I first saw him, but his eyes were striking.  Then I came home to find that he is a Red-Eyed Vireo.  I’ve never seen one of those before. :)  (Next time hopefully there will be more light and I can get a better picture, hehe.)

Red-Eyed Vireo

Red-Eyed Vireo

There were the usual Wood Storks high in the trees by Lake Hancock.  Most of the roosting birds had moved deeper into the marsh (farther from the lake), probably because of the high water levels.  We saw tons of Wood Storks, White Ibises, and Great Egrets covering the trees.

Wood Stork

Wood Stork

We didn’t see the Barred Owls by the dock today.  I did see a small bird in their trees, though, and as I focused on it, this Prothonotary Warbler hopped out and posed for me for a few seconds.  I was so excited, because I’d never seen one of these before either.  He’s pretty!

Prothonotary Warbler

Prothonotary Warbler

So it was a very productive day at the Circle B, despite the weather!  And I just love my new Canon 7D.  The low-light performance is so much better than my 40D!!

Species list:  American Redstart, Anhinga, Bald Eagle, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Boat-Tailed Grackle, Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Common Moorhen, Double-Crested Cormorant, Eastern Meadowlark, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Green Heron, Laughing Gull, Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Osprey, Pied-Billed Grebe, Prairie Warbler, Prothonotary Warbler, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Red-Eyed Vireo, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Sand Hill Crane, Snowy Egret, Tri-Colored Heron, White Ibis, Wood Stork