We decided to postpone our usual Circle B Bar Reserve trip for a day, since the weather forecast called for a cloudy day with lots of wind. But when I woke up this morning, it was surprisingly sunny, and just a little breezy. So Rich and I headed to Oakland Nature Preserve to see if the feeders were out for Painted Buntings this year. (Nope.)
Oakland Nature Preserve used to be one of our favorite birding locations. Then they started constructing a new nature center, which kept some of the birds away. They also stopped putting out the feeders that attracted the Painted Buntings in the winter. So we’ve only been there a handful of times in the last year or two. I was hoping that the activity would have started to pick up again, but it was a pretty quiet morning. We heard American Goldfinches but never saw one. Eastern Phoebes and Gray Catbirds made themselves heard but never let themselves be seen. Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers mocked us from high in the treetops.
We did see a small flock of warblers, and I believe we were hearing a couple of Black and White Warblers, although I never saw them. These Pine and Prairie Warblers were cute and fun to photograph. This was the first Pine Warbler I’ve seen this fall.
Nearby, a Ruby-Crowned Kinglet hopped around in some high branches, evading the camera. I finally snapped a single frame where he was visible. This is the first Ruby-Crowned Kinglet I’ve seen this year, too.
We walked on the boardwalk out to Lake Apopka. Out on the lake we saw the usual Great Blue Herons and Ospreys. We heard a Bald Eagle. A Belted Kingfisher fussed in the distance and finally let himself be seen. There were none of the Common Moorhens or Purple Gallinules that we always used to see. An Anhinga croaked out a hello and then flew away. I was excited when I saw some gulls flying over the lake. They were the first Ring-Billed Gulls I’ve seen this year.
So there were lots of first-of-season (for me) birds this morning. It’s hard to say whether they have really just arrived in the state, because a lot of them are birds we don’t tend to see much at the Circle B Bar Reserve.
On our way out, this tortoise made Rich’s day. :)
Want to learn more about nature photography at Oakland Nature Preserve?
Check out my Oakland Nature Preserve page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!