I found the birds! Last Monday I was disappointed to visit the Circle B Bar Reserve and find practically no birds in the skies. Today was quite the opposite!
The morning was cool and bright — a nice change from yesterday’s cloudy gloom! I walked out on Heron Hideout and immediately saw my first flock of American Robins for the season. (I thought I heard them a few weeks ago, but I never saw them to confirm.) I also heard American Goldfinches all over the marsh today, and saw a couple pass over me in flight. They are my favorite wintertime bird. :)
I hiked Heron Hideout, Marsh Rabbit Run, and portions of Wading Bird Way this morning.
At the intersection of Heron Hideout and Marsh Rabbit Run, I saw this Black-Bellied Whistling Duck. It intrigued me because it was very close to the path, which is a bit unusual. He called to other ducks who were farther out into the marsh. Each time he called, he got many many whistles in response. It was fun to watch.
The Wood Storks were flying overhead all morning. They roost in the trees behind Marsh Rabbit Run overnight, then fly out to find their breakfasts. I was pretty excited when I saw this tack-sharp flight shot:
Palm Warblers and Savannah Sparrows love to hop around in the bushes at the edge of the Marsh Rabbit Run and Wading Bird Way trails. This bird hopped to the bush right in front of me without realizing I was there. He waited a few seconds to make sure I wasn’t going to move, then he proceeded to pick an insect off the bush and eat it. Mmmm…
Two river otters surfaced in the canal halfway up Marsh Rabbit Run. They let me snap their picture before swimming back to the beginning of the trail. I didn’t follow them, but Kim did, and she said they crossed the Marsh Rabbit Run trail several times before finally crossing Heron Hideout and continuing into the Banana Creek canal along the Alligator Alley trail. They are such fun to watch!
I finally saw the Northern Shovelers at the intersection of Marsh Rabbit Run and Wading Bird Way. There were one male and two females. They were far enough away that it was hard to get a good picture, but I’ll post my best one. I don’t recall seeing these birds before (if I did last year, I didn’t know what they were.)
I spotted several terns flying overhead, including what I think was a Royal Tern, and several Caspian Terns like this one. The terns called back and forth to each other, and it was fun to hear the “beachy” bird sounds so far inland.
American Coots dominated the bird scene on Wading Bird Way, but I actually took this picture back on Heron Hideout as I was leaving. Look at those big white feet!
The Bald Eagles flew over the marsh several times, calling to each other (and helpfully making it easier for photographers to spot them!) I’m still waiting for the eagles to fly right overhead so that I can get my frame-filling, amazing shot. In the meantime, this shot wasn’t too bad…
I checked Bubba’s pond, and it was pretty empty. Except for the big alligator and for this hungry little Pied-Billed Grebe. The backlight was very bad, but I turned up the exposure compensation and turned on fill flash, and then adjusted Shadows and Highlights in Photoshop Elements, and here’s the result:
Likewise, this Double-Crested Cormorant was very backlit, but a set of new batteries in my flash worked wonders for the picture. I really like this pose. He was sure enjoying the nice warm sun.
As I was leaving, this Turkey Vulture flew over Heron Hideout and dared me not to take his picture. Of course I couldn’t resist…
Species list: Anhinga, American Coot, American Goldfinch, American Robin (FOS), Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Black Vulture, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Blue-Winged Teal, Boat-Tailed Grackle, Cardinal, Caspian Tern, Cattle Egret, Common Moorhen, Common Yellowthroat, Double-Crested Cormorant, Eastern Meadowlark (heard), Eastern Phoebe, Glossy Ibis, Gray Catbird, Great Blue Heron, House Wren, Killdeer (heard), Laughing Gull, Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Northern Shoveler (FOS), Osprey, Palm Warbler, Pied-Billed Grebe, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Red-Winged Blackbird, Ring-Billed Gull (FOS at Circle B), Royal Tern (FOS at Circle B), Sandhill Crane, Savannah Sparrow, Snowy Egret, Tree Swallow, Tricolored Heron, Turkey Vulture, White Ibis, Wood Stork, Yellow-Rumped Warbler
For more pictures from the Circle B Bar Reserve, check out the Circle B group on Flickr. A bunch of photographers talk about what they have seen and where. It’s a great resource and source of inspiration for amazing pictures.
My dad and I will be leading a photography hike at the Circle B Bar Reserve in the upcoming months. More details coming when the date is finalized…
Want to learn more about nature photography at Circle B Bar Reserve?
Check out my Circle B Bar Reserve 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!