Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

King Rail at Sunset at the Circle B Bar Reserve

I saw my first-ever King Rail at the Circle B Reserve tonight. I went for a sunset walk before the Lake Region Audubon Society meeting, where Fred Bassett gave an excellent talk about hummingbirds that winter in Florida. There were plenty of people out to enjoy the sunset, including a nice couple of saw me watching the rail and then asked, “Are there any bitterns around? That would be a lifer for me!” So Bill and I showed her where one of the Marsh Rabbit Run bitterns was posing not fifty feet away. Isn’t Circle B great!?

I definitely prefer Circle B at sunrise, when the birds seem to be more active. In the afternoon I don’t seem to see as many birds, and I don’t like the light angles as much. Maybe that’s because I’m used to the morning light, who knows?

I saw the King Rail as I turned onto Marsh Rabbit Run. It was on the north side of the trail, not far from the Heron Hideout intersection. It posed for a minute or so before it noticed me and then dove back into the vegetation. Was it something I said? I had some issues focusing with my camera (isn’t it annoying when birds are within your minimum focusing distance?) so I had a limited number of sharp images. I hope he’s there the next time I go — and I think he might be, because I saw him in the exact same spot as I left. Hopefully he’ll stick around!

King Rail

King Rail

A bunch of Blue-Winged Teals have been hanging out in the canal on the south side of Marsh Rabbit Run, right underneath the trees where the Red-Shouldered Hawks are starting to nest. That canal is usually in shade in the morning, but it was well lit with the setting sun tonight. I liked how this teal was showing me the colors of his wing feathers…

Blue-Winged Teal

Blue-Winged Teal

A family of racoons has been living in that same spot off Marsh Rabbit Run. We’ve seen them high in the oak trees before. Today they were on the ground, and one was just finishing a yummy snack of–well, maybe it’s just as well that I couldn’t tell what it was! :) I asked them to come out into the light, and they actually did it! The adult walked out into a clearing and scratched his head (probably wondering about the group of people watching him from across the canal). Then the two juveniles followed. The juvenile’s pose in the picture below reminds me of my cat Squirt.

Adult Racoon

Adult Racoon


Juvenile Racoon

Juvenile Racoon

The afternoon was very cloudy, and the birds didn’t seem very active. I was hoping to get some Black-Bellied Whistling Duck flight shots, but the ducks didn’t seem to want to fly…at least, not until I’d walked on! So I played with HDR landscapes instead, taking bracketed exposures that I could combine using HDR in Photoshop. These were my favorite shots:

Sunset at Circle B (HDR)

Sunset at Circle B (HDR)


Sunset at Circle B (HDR)

Sunset at Circle B (HDR)


Sunset at Circle B (HDR)

Sunset at Circle B (HDR)

A young Cooper’s Hawk landed close to the path at the Wading Bird Way / Marsh Rabbit Run trail intersection, and let me get a few shots before he flew.

Cooper's Hawk

Cooper's Hawk