Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

The Whistler Flight School is pleased to announce the opening of Marsh Rabbit Run!!

Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve is magical. Maybe because two mornings are never alike.

Circle B Sunrise (HDR)

Circle B Sunrise (HDR)

This morning, we were hiking on Heron Hideout when suddenly about twenty Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks took to the air around us. Calling back and forth to each other with their sweet distinctive whistle, the birds flew round and round over our heads. There were a few orange-beaked adults, but most of the crowd were juvenile birds with black bills. Dyeyo and I looked at each other, laughed, and decided that we had just witnessed a flying lesson!

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

Nearby, a group of about ten babies whistled and cheered them on. Were they saying “good flight, big brother!” or maybe “Mama, mama, when can we do that!?” And so concluded a morning’s flying lesson at the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck Flight School!

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

The light changes so quickly at sunrise. This sunrise picture was taken just 10 minutes or so after the one above.

Circle B Sunrise (HDR)

Circle B Sunrise (HDR)

The Marsh Rabbit Run trail is now open!! We were excited to see that the alligators have cleared out of our favorite birding trail. Now the photographers can enjoy it again. :)

Three Wood Ducks flew by just as we reached the Marsh Rabbit Run trail. It’s the first time I’ve gotten a clear picture of the male at Circle B.

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

There were tons of Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers and warblers along the Marsh Rabbit Run. The trees are not as tall as along the Alligator Alley trail, so the warblers are closer to us. It makes for much better photographic conditions! We saw Prairie Warblers, Common Yellowthroats, and a bunch of Yellow Warblers.

Yellow Warbler

Yellow Warbler

A trail can change a lot in four months when it is closed. There are trees down and the vegetation has grown tall.

Wood Storks flew overhead as they left their roosting trees and headed out for breakfast. The Black-Bellied Whistlers continued their flight school in the distance. Then a Roseate Spoonbill flew overhead next to a Wood Stork! I’ve heard someone mention a lone spoonbill at Circle B this summer, but I sure hadn’t seen him until today.

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Out on Wading Bird Way, we saw a flock of at least a hundred birds out in the distant water. They looked like female Mallards. It didn’t make sense that a huge flock of just females would show up suddenly, though. This seemed more like a migrant flock. So I think they were Blue-Winged Teals. I liked this picture best because of the symmetry with the birds in flight. And no, Rich, I did not photoshop the symmetry! :-p

Blue-Winged Teals

Blue-Winged Teals

We had a Laughing Gull fly over on Wading Bird Way, and we saw several Pied-Billed Grebes, but the trail was pretty quiet.

On our way back on Marsh Rabbit Run, we saw some juvenile Purple Gallinules crawling through the vegetation. I wonder if they are the same babies we were seeing back in June before the trail was closed. The juvenile pastel plumage is fun:

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule

There’s a hint of fall in the air…and with fall comes more migration!!

Species list: Anhinga, Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher (heard), Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Boat-Tailed Grackle, Cardinal, Common Moorhen, Common Yellowthroat, Double-Crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Laughing Gull, Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Mallard, Mourning Dove, Northern Mockingbird, Osprey, Pied-Billed Grebe, Prairie Warbler, Purple Gallinule, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Roseate Spoonbill, Snowy Egret, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, Wood Duck, Wood Stork, Yellow Warbler