Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Cranes and Pelicans and a Circle B Sunset

Dyeyo and I went for a quick walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve this afternoon. I’ve been wanting to photograph one of our spectacular golden sunsets that we’ve been having lately, but tonight’s wasn’t like that. It was pretty, though.

Sunset

Sunset

I waited for the sun to start going behind a cloud, then took this picture. I should have added a split neutral density filter. So I used Lightroom to adjust the exposure of the foreground. I can’t wait for Photoshop and Merge to HDR…

This evening we walked Heron Hideout and Marsh Rabbit Run out to see the sunset over Wading Bird Way.

We saw Killdeer in the dried-up beds at the beginning of Heron Hideout. Dyeyo spotted them — he has good eyes! They blended in so well with the vegetation that I stared at one for about a minute before I really saw him. We saw (and heard!) several more Killdeer as we walked. My favorite pictures were a couple of flight shots, which I merged together in Photoshop. They are all the same bird, who turned a few times as he flew towards me. I tried to capture that feeling of motion as I positioned the birds in the merged shot…

Killdeer

Killdeer

A Great Blue Heron and a juvenile Little Blue Heron were wading in a pond covered in algae. The Little Blue was searching for his dinner.

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

As we turned onto Marsh Rabbit Run, we saw these two Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks. Around them, whole flocks of ducks were flying around, whistling their sweet call back and forth. I was happy to see them, as they had been rather inactive yesterday morning, and I was concerned that they might have migrated.

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

We were about halfway across Marsh Rabbit Run when we saw a flock of American White Pelicans, flying toward us from the direction of the Shady Oak trail. There were at least 100 birds. It’s our first sighting of the pelicans this year. They didn’t land anywhere in the reserve, as far as we could tell.

American White Pelicans

American White Pelicans

We reached Wading Bird Way just as the sun was setting. I put on my short lens and took a series of pictures, which I merged into a panorama with Photoshop Elements.

Sunset on Wading Bird Way

Sunset on Wading Bird Way

The landscape was pretty just after sunset, with hues of pink and purple in the clouds. Hundreds of roosting ducks dotted the landscape. Circle B is so great in the wintertime!

Post-Sunset View

Post-Sunset View

As we walked back across Marsh Rabbit Run, we saw lots of flocks of birds flying overhead. They were almost all in V formations.

Flock of White Ibis coming to roost

Flock of White Ibis coming to roost

I spotted a flock of at least 10 Sandhill Cranes flying in to roost. Then I spotted this group already settled in for the right, on the north side of Marsh Rabbit Run. My wide-angle lens didn’t do the scene justice; I was much happier with a panorama stitched together from about seven vertical 400mm shots.

Sandhill Crane Roost

Sandhill Crane Roost

As I was taking my panorama shots, Dyeyo was counting — there were at least 25 additional Sandhill Cranes roosting in the distance behind us, too! Over 50 total…it was incredible. Then the birds that I was photographing decided to fly over to roost with the other group. I practiced panning, trying to match the camera pan speed to the birds’ flight speed. I did ok with this shot, as evidenced by the fairly sharp focus on the heads and eyes.

Sandhill Cranes in flight

Sandhill Cranes in flight

Lately I’ve been enjoying Art Morris’s photography blog and recent work on creating pleasing blurry images. I usually prefer his sharp images; most photographers achieve blurry images by accident, and he has a whole science to creating blurs. But tonight I chuckled to myself as I looked at my pictures, because after the above Sandhill Crane image, I also took another one where the panning speed was not equal to the flight speed, creating a blur. I liked my blur! I guess beauty is in the eye of the beholder, especially when the beholder is biased by her own photography! :)

Sandhill Cranes in flight (Blur)

Sandhill Cranes in flight (Blur)

Species list: Anhinga, American Coot, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Black Vulture, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Blue-Winged Teal, Common Moorhen, Double-Crested Cormorant, Eastern Phoebe, Glossy Ibis, Gray Catbird, Great Blue Heron, Greater Yellowlegs, Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Osprey, Palm Warbler, Pied-Billed Grebe, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Red-Winged Blackbird, Sandhill Crane, Tree Swallow, Turkey Vulture, White Ibis, Wood Stork

Sandhill Crane silhouettes

Sandhill Crane silhouettes