Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Quiet Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

The Circle B Bar Reserve is my favorite place to be at dawn. The landscape is so beautiful with the sun just peeking out over it, and the critters all waking up to a new day.

Marsh at Sunrise

Marsh at Sunrise

We were treated to an early-morning view of the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck family. They are usually not out until later in the day. It’s fun to watch how the adults take care of their brood together. It’s very rare to see a single Black-Bellied Whistling duck, and both parents are never far away from the babies.

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck family

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck family

We (and several other photographers!) had some hopes that the Marsh Rabbit Run trail would be open today, but it wasn’t. The sign says that it will be closed until the end of September. :(

Some of the Wood Storks have shifted their roost trees away from the lake to the marsh between Wading Bird Way and Heron Hideout. The Double-Crested Cormorants are roosting in the same trees.

Two Belted Kingfishers chased each other up and down Heron Hideout as we watched.

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck family

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck family

On Heron Hideout, past the Marsh Rabbit Run, we saw several baby Purple Gallinules (half-baby, half-juvenile plumage) darting around in the vegetation. I didn’t get a great picture, but they sure were cute.

We saw at least five Limpkins today. Several posed in the early-morning light. My favorite picture was this wing spread:

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck family

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck family

We had to leave early today, so we limited our walk to Heron Hideout and Alligator Alley. There were Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers in the trees all along the trail. I also saw a Northern Parula and a Prothonotary warbler, but we didn’t see as many warblers as we did last week.

As the Alligator Alley trail curved around to Lake Hancock, I saw the juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron sitting in the middle of the trail with a big fish. He was tossing it around and getting it positioned in his mouth for the big gulp. I was pretty far away, but I managed to get a couple of quick shots before another person came along to scare him away.

Juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron

Juvenile Black-Crowned Night Heron

A Downy Woodpecker flew in to pose in one of the trees by the lake. He kept flapping his wings.

Downy Woodpecker

Downy Woodpecker

As we made our way back to the parking lot, we started to hear more gnatcatchers, and we passed a group of people who said they had seen Palm Warblers and several vireos. It figured that we had to leave when the fun little birds were coming out. :-p We did stop to say hello to this Tufted Titmouse on our way out…

Tufted Titmouse

Tufted Titmouse

So overall it was a pretty quiet morning. There were certainly more birds on Heron Hideout than I’ve seen in months, though, and it won’t be long before migration is in full swing! Hopefully Marsh Rabbit Run will be open by then, too!

Species list: Anhinga, Bald Eagle (heard), Barred Owl, Belted Kingfisher, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Cardinal, Carolina Wren (heard), Caspian Tern, Common Moorhen, Double-Crested Cormorant, Downy Woodpecker, Glossy Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Northern Parula, Osprey, Prothonotary Warbler, Purple Gallinule, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Red-Eyed Vireo, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Sand Hill Crane, Snowy Egret, Tri-Colored Heron, Tufted Titmouse, Turkey Vulture, White Ibis, Wood Stork