The sky was clear and the winds were northeast and there were not many migrants at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning. It was a bit cooler, though, and a walk through the marsh at dawn is always pleasant. Thankfully I didn’t see any alligators, either!
I started out on Heron Hideout and checked for the little family of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks. Actually there are several families, on both sides of the path. The ducklings from the family on the left have been losing their yellow-and-black cute baby feathers and molting into their juvenile plumage. Today I saw just one juvenile, with a parent, and as I watched they took to the air and flew away. Birds grow up so quickly! In the picture below, the adult has the bright orange beak, and the juvenile has the black beak.
There were three Limpkins on Heron Hideout past Marsh Rabbit Run (still closed :(). The Limpkins at Circle B are usually fairly skittish, but I stood there quietly for a while and let them get used to me. Then they let me get closer and photograph them. One of the Limpkins must have thought he was a Sand Hill Crane, because he kept doing this little hop-skip-jump that reminded me very much of the Sand Hill dances. They were making sharp calls to each other, but also communicating with these little voices that reminded me of baby birds. I was thoroughly enjoying watching them until the bicyclists came whizzing by and scared them. :-p
Looking across the marsh, there were hundreds of Double-Crested Cormorants roosting in the trees. They flew across Heron Hideout in groups of three and four, allowing for some fun flight shots. At one point at least a hundred birds took off together and flew overhead.
The only interesting migrant bird I saw on Heron Hideout this morning was a Caspian Tern. He flew in with a bunch of Double-Crested Cormorants. I didn’t get him focused until he was right overhead, resulting in a rather interesting perspective…
There were plenty of heron, egret, and anhinga flyovers too. I heard these Sand Hill Cranes calling, then saw them fly over the marsh. Isn’t it nice when birds announce themselves? It makes it so much easier to photograph them!
I turned down the Alligator Alley path determined to be patient and watch for warblers. But despite my patience, the warblers just were not showing themselves this morning. I saw a bunch of Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers, and I believe I heard a Northern Parula, but he kept tree-hopping and leaving me behind. By the time I made it Lake Hancock, the only interesting picture I’d taken was of this juvenile mockingbird eating a nice fat berry:
On the lake side of the Alligator Alley trail I had a little better luck. There were the roosting Wood Storks, another Caspian Tern fly-by, and what I believe was a Magnolia Warbler (female or non-breeding plumage) in the tall canopy approaching the dock. Another birder thought he saw a Yellow-Throated warbler in that same tree. I heard the Yellow-throated warbler but never saw him.
As I approached the Nature Center, the usual crowd of Tufted Titmice made me stop and watch for a little while. There were Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers there, too, and I kept my eyes peeled for warblers, but with no luck. I did snap this fun shot of a Red-Bellied Woodpecker and Blue Jay together.
Last week I saw these butterflies back on the Eagle Roost trail, but I forgot to post the picture. They are two Gulf Fritillaries. They are right next to an empty chrysalis.
Species list: Anhinga, Belted Kingfisher (heard), Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Blue Jay, Boat-Tailed Grackle, Cardinal, Caspian Tern, Common Moorhen, Double-Crested Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Green Heron, Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Magnolia Warbler, Mourning Dove, Northern Mockingbird, Northern Parula (heard), Osprey, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Red-Winged Blackbird, Sand Hill Crane, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron, Tufted Titmouse, White Ibis, Wood Duck, Wood Stork