Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

More Migrants at the Circle B Bar Reserve

We were so excited by the migratory birds that we saw yesterday at the Circle B Bar Reserve that we just had to go back this morning. I was hoping to get better pictures of the migrating warblers, in non-foggy light.  But the marshes were very quiet this morning.  We saw two American Redstarts by the dock on Lake Hancock.  Those were the only warblers we saw all morning.

Since the morning was still very cloudy, Dyeyo and I decided to walk the Alligator Alley trail, starting at the lake end.  We were hoping to make it around to the warbler-friendly trees at the intersection of Heron Hideout and Alligator Alley by the time the sunlight would be bright enough for lighting tiny birds.

This juvenile Little Blue Heron watched me watching him by Lake Hancock.  I had to use some fill flash.  It’s fun to apply the techniques that I’m learning as I read Arthur Morris’s books on bird photography.  :)

Juvenile Little Blue Heron

Juvenile Little Blue Heron

I stood for a few minutes watching the fly-bys over the lake.  I saw Osprey, Wood Storks, Laughing Gulls, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, and a Black-Crowned Night Heron pass by.  I also saw a bunch of Caspian Terns, who winter at Circle B.  I have some funny pictures from last year with just one or two Caspian Terns amidst a flock of Laughing Gulls.  The light today wasn’t great for flight shots, but since it’s the first tern I’ve seen this season, I’m posting it…

Caspian Tern

Caspian Tern

The marshes that are usually covered in roosting White Ibises and egrets were empty.  Maybe the birds are as tired of the rain as I am, so they decided to fly off!

As we turned away from the lake, I was happy to see that the Wood Storks were still roosting in the trees near the path.  Most were just sitting, but a few were interacting.  Wing-flapping was common, and I saw one bird try to put himself on a bark diet!  (He quickly spit it out.)

Wood Stork interaction

Wood Stork interaction

Wood Stork wing flag

Wood Stork wing flag

Back on Heron Hideout, I looked back across the marsh to see the trees covered in Wood Storks. This panorama gives a feeling for what it’s like to see the trees completely covered in birds.

Wood Stork panorama

Wood Stork panorama

We heard a few Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers along the rest of the Alligator Alley trail, but we didn’t see many.  A few Carolina Wrens sang deep in the vegetation.  We got excited when we saw a bird fly into a nearby tree, but it turned out to be just a Mockingbird.

A couple of birders advised  us that the Black-Bellied Whistling Ducklings on Heron Hideout were out in the open, so we walked down that trail to say hello to them.  They were just little ducklings two weeks ago, and with the way birds grow up very quickly, I had imagined that they would be pretty big when we saw them next.  But they were still rather small, and the parents were still being very protective, keeping them under the cover of vegetation for most of the time that we watched.

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck family

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck family

It was sweet to watch the little family.  The mother was keeping an eye of the babies, then Papa started to fly in, calling as he came.  Mama answered, followed by the little whistles of most of the babies as they chimed in.  “Hello!  We’re over here!”

Bottoms up!!

Bottoms up!!

I liked the adult/baby contrast in this portrait:

Black-Bellied Whistlers

Black-Bellied Whistlers

The parents finally brought the ducklings out into more open water.  The little ducklings had green algae all over their downy feathers.  They were cute.

Adios, amigos

Adios, amigos

As we walked Heron Hideout, we came across several Boat-Tailed Grackles.  Except they were molting, so most of them only had one or two feathers in their tails!  They looked pretty silly.  This one posed for me near a culvert, and he looked silliest of all — his tail was completely molted away!

Molting Boat-Tailed Grackle

Molting Boat-Tailed Grackle

We were getting ready to leave around 10:30 or so, and then I saw a flash f blue flying across one of the ponds on Heron Hideout.  It caught my eye because we don’t typically see many Blue Jays at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  So I followed it with my camera, and discovered my first Belted Kingfisher!  It was scared away before I was able to get too close, but it’s always exciting to see a new bird.

Belted Kingfisher

Belted Kingfisher

It’s fun that the activity is starting to pick up at Circle B again.  Yay for migrants and cooler weather!!

Species list:  American Redstart, Anhinga, Belted Kingfisher, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Boat-Tailed Grackle, Cardinal, Carolina Wren, Caspian Tern, Common Moorhen, Double-Crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Laughing Gull, Little Blue Heron, Mockingbird, Mottled Duck, Osprey, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Snowy Egret, Tri-Colored Heron, White Ibis, Wood Duck, Wood Stork