Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Sunrise over Lake Hancock at the Circle B Bar Reserve

We scheduled this morning’s photo hike to start at 8, recognizing that that was early for most people.  But for me, that’s late!  I arrived at Circle B at around 6:45 and hiked down to the lake to meet the sunrise.  I was happy to see that the lake wasn’t all stinky with decaying fish (I was concerned that there was a fish kill with last week’s cold weather.)

As I passed the eagle’s nest next to the nature center, I saw both birds in a tree near the nest.  There’s nobody incubating on that nest yet!

Yesterday I had noted that there were fewer pelicans out on Wading Bird Way, and I wondered if they were at the lake.  In the early mornings you see the pelicans flying in the direction of the lake.  Well, that’s where the birds were!  A Belted Kingfisher made his voice heard over the swishing sound of the pelican wings overhead.

Lines of Pelicans

Lines of Pelicans

When I arrived at the dock, which is a great vantage point for seeing the sunrise, I happened upon this Great Blue Heron sitting on the dock railing.  I quickly backed up and got a few silhouette shots.  I turned on the flash and tried some shots with the heron nicely illuminated, but I liked the silhouette better.

Great Blue Heron sunrise

Great Blue Heron sunrise

The sun popped out from below the horizon just as I reached the dock.   For this shot, I used my 400mm lens, with evaluative metering and -1 exposure compensation.  I liked how the 400mm lens was enough of a zoom to better show the birds flying in the sunrise.  My wide-angle didn’t do that.

Sunrise birds

Sunrise birds

I couldn’t stay long at the dock, as I had photo hike participants arriving soon!  As I walked back towards the Nature Center, I stopped at a few breaks in the trees that made a nice frame for the rising sun.  I took +/-2 stop exposures and combined them in an HDR image in Photoshop.  I try to keep my HDR images realistic.  This one seems fake somehow, but I liked how the trees were not silhouetted and the detail in the sky is seen.  It really was a gorgeous morning!

Sunrise (HDR)

Sunrise (HDR)

As I reached the Shady Oak trail, I turned back and looked at the lake.  The sun was peeking through the trees and the fog still hadn’t burned off.  I took another bracketed set for HDR…

Sunrise (HDR)

Sunrise (HDR)

I saw a group of three Sandhill Cranes on my walk back to the nature center.  This is the same place where Dyeyo and I used to see his “baby’s” family last year. The birds were extremely friendly and didn’t bat an eye as I approached them.  Their mannerisms and habits were so much like last year’s family that I really wonder if this is Dyeyo’s baby.  Look at the close-ups of the heads below.  One of the birds has a brighter red head, a bright red eye, and less fuzz to the face.  I think that’s the adult.  The orange-eyed bird with the fuzzy forehead, I believe, is Dyeyo’s baby (but he’s not really a baby anymore!)

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Cranes

Sandhill Crane adult

Sandhill Crane adult

Sandhill Crane juvenile

Sandhill Crane juvenile

“Thousands” hardly describes the number of birds who slept on the lake and took off as the sun peeked over the horizon.