Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

There are warblers at the Circle B Bar Reserve…if you know where to look!

Dyeyo and I enjoyed a nice walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning.  It’s a time of year when finding birds is very hit-or-miss.   We felt like we hit the bull’s eye with several sightings of migrating warblers.

We got to Circle B at sunrise, and as we admired the freshly mowed (and widened!) Shady Oak trail, the rising sun illuminated a flock of Wild Turkeys with great morning light.  These are turkeys that we usually see before there is enough light to really photograph them, so it was very exciting to finally get an opportunity.

Wild Turkeys

Wild Turkeys

Then one of the turkeys did a full wing-shake and I managed to snap the shutter as he flapped!  Later, they did a little hop dance, which was pretty cute.

Do the turkey stretch

Do the turkey stretch

At the beginning of the Alligator Alley trail, this White Ibis posed so pretty that I just had to stop and take his picture.  I don’t care how common a bird is, it’s fun to take their pictures!!

White Ibis

White Ibis

There wasn’t much activity on the Alligator Alley trail.  We did see a Barred Owl flying around high in the branches of his usual tree (by the dock), but he was too high for decent pictures.  Then we came across this Green Heron posing on one of the dead trees.  It’s unusual to see a Greenie on this stretch of the trail, and with his next extended like that.  (Come to think of it, that tree has been great for bird portraits.  I’ve gotten several osprey, heron, and stork pictures there!)

Green Heron

Green Heron

Some rustling in another tree revealed a Black-Crowned Night Heron, but the picture was very backlit and not worth posting.  The Wood Storks were in their usual spot, in the trees as the trail bends away from Lake Hancock.

Wood Stork

Wood Stork

We were surprised to look up by the bench jut-out and see two Barred Owls sitting up in a tree.  One was watching us quite closely, and the other was sound asleep.  This was the first time I’d seen the pair together.  I’m jealous – Dyeyo got a shot of them preening each other one day when I couldn’t go! :-p

Barred Owls

Barred Owls

I’m not sure if I quite like this shot I took of an Osprey flying with his breakfast.  My camera dial had gotten bumped and it was setting the exposure incorrectly, so the bird is underexposed and blurred.  But I did think it’s kinda cool that the fish, eye, and beak are the only things in sharp focus.  He was aiming for that tree to finish eating his breakfast, by golly!

Osprey

Osprey

As we made our way back up towards Heron Hideout, Dyeyo spotted another Belted Kingfisher flying up and down Banana Creek.  He was very considerate and perched in a tree right in front of us!  Exposure was difficult, as the sun was very bright, and his white patches tend to get blown out quite easily.

We had pretty good luck spotting warblers all along the Alligator Alley trail.  We had to listen for little voices, then stand still and stare at the tops of trees until we spotted them.  It didn’t help that the cardinals were very active along the trail this morning also, and their call notes are very similar to warbler call notes.  People passing by must have wondered what the two crazy people staring at the trees were doing!  But we had good luck.  We spotted a Yellow warbler, a Palm warbler, two Blackburnian warblers (I think – male and female?), at least one Northern Parula, a female Black-and-White warbler, several Yellow-Throated Warblers, a White-Eyed Vireo, and a bunch of Blue-Gray Gnatcathers.  None of my pictures was superb — tiny birds in the tops of trees make for pictures that make you squint and say “there’s a bird in there?”, even when I use my 400mm lens!  But here are my “proof of sighting” pictures, gathered together into a single image:

Warblers

Warblers

Back on Heron Hideout, we checked for the baby Purple Gallinules that I saw on Friday, but they were not active today.  I was quite relieved to see the juvenile Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks as we headed back to the parking lot.  They were not there on Friday, and there was a gator sitting near their favorite hideout.  The gator was gone today, and both parents were out with a bunch of babies.

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

They are not really babies anymore.  They’ve lost that cute yellow-and-black striping, and they are starting to molt into their adult plumage. Dyeyo and I remembered to use our polarizing filters to block some of the glare of the bright sun on the water.  It made a big difference!

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

Species list: Anhinga, Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Black and White Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Cardinal, Common Moorhen, Double-Crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Great-Crested Flycatcher, Green Heron, Little Blue Heron, Northern Parula, Osprey, Palm Warbler, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Snowy Egret, Tri-Colored Heron, Wild Turkey, White Ibis, White-Eyed Vireo, Wood Stork, Yellow Warbler