Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Hoodies at the Circle B Bar Reserve!

Dyeyo and I were at the Circle B Bar Reserve at dawn this morning. It was a bit chilly at first, but it felt so great to be outside! The fog obscured the sunrise a bit, which turned out to be good, since I got this picture as a result:

Foggy Sunrise

Foggy Sunrise

We hiked the Heron Hideout trail, then took Marsh Rabbit Run out to Wading Bird Way. There were tons of people there, most carrying fancy cameras with white lenses. It’s always fun to catch up on the latest nature happenings, and luckily, the birds at Circle B don’t seem to mind the crowds! I was also excited to see that the rains last week have left some water in the dried-up ponds on Heron Hideout. I think we’re supposed to get more rain next week, which will be a really good thing for the reserve and birds (and for the photographers…)

Somebody whispered to us that there were Hooded Mergansers on the southern portion of Heron Hideout. We’ve never seen Hoodies at Circle B before, so we were excited to see this pair of females diving along parallel to the trail, not too far out. The water was still enough and the light at the right angle to create beautiful reflections of these fun birds. The only thing missing was the pair of males to go with them!

Hooded Mergansers

Hooded Mergansers

The Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks certainly put on a show this morning, flying in circles over our heads. I had fun playing with the Beast and trying for close-up flight shots.

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks

A Roseate Spoonbill was in his usual place on Marsh Rabbit Run, just past the “Four Corners” intersection with Heron Hideout. This spoonie seems to sleep in the same spot, usual amongst whistling ducks and teals, every night (at least for the past three or four weeks). Too bad all he seems to do is sleep…and sleep…and sleep… Wake up and fly!

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

We checked for the rails that have been hanging out at the Four Corners intersection. Last weekend we saw a Sora and a King Rail there, and a Viriginia Rail was also skulking there (unphotographed by me! :() Today we saw no rails in that location. On the other side of the trail, though, a willing Wilson’s Snipe let us photograph him for a while. I was intrigued by this shot of his tail featehrs all spread.

Wilson's Snipe

Wilson's Snipe

A Great Blue Heron landed nearby. This shot reminds me of their mating rituals, except that he was showing off for the photographers instead of a mate! (fine by me…)

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

I never get tired of photographing the little Blue-Winged Teals that swim in the canals right next to the trail. Usually they have fun reflections.

Blue-Winged Teal

Blue-Winged Teal

Herman was there this morning to watch the eagle nests for the Audubon Eagle Watch program. He was happy to report that he thinks the first eaglet hatched this morning! He observed one bird right next to the nest while the other bird stood high in the nest (not low like during incubation). The birds were poking their beaks down into the nest, clearly doing more than just egg-rolling. So if the first chick hatched today, the second will hatch tomorrow, and we should be able to see heads popping up over the side starting around next weekend. Herman says we’ll also be able to get a lot more flight shots as the parents begin feeding the young…

Eagle Roost nest

Eagle Roost nest

A Purple Gallinule made an appearance on the Marsh Rabbit Run trail, just behind the star American Bittern who regularly has a crowd of admirers. People were remarking that the gallinules are hard to find in these parts of Florida, which made me chuckle…I haven’t seen one in a few months, but this summer I watched several sets of babies growing up! :) Circle B is such a neat place.

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule

Turtle lovers beware (sorry, Rich and family…) – we saw a Limpkin eating a baby turtle on the far end of Marsh Rabbit Run. Once I got over being sad for the turtle, it was kind of fun to watch the limpkin approach the problem of extracting his prey. I don’t think I’d want to be on the receiving end of that stabbing beak! Here’s a picture and a video…and I wouldn’t recommend anybody with the last name of Yarnell to watch this video!

Limpkin with turtle

Limpkin with turtle

On Wading Bird Way, Dyeyo and I watched a Great Blue Heron fly in front of us, carrying a snake in his mouth. I followed him to where he landed, then thanked The Beast for helping me get this shot.

Great Blue Heron with Snake

Great Blue Heron with Snake

On the way back to the car, we saw the usual Sandhill Cranes in their spot on the north side of Marsh Rabbit Run. We are hoping that they may be thinking about nesting there. Certainly we’ve seen them there every weekend for the past few weeks, and they have nested there in the past. They honked a nice hello as we walked by…

Species List: American Bittern, American Coot, American Robin, American White Pelican, American Wigeon, Anhinga, Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Black Vulture, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Blue-Winged Teal, Boat-Tailed Grackle, Cattle Egret, Common Moorhen, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Phoebe, Eastern Towhee (heard), Eastern Meadowlark (heard), Gadwall, Glossy Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Green Heron, Hooded Merganser, Killdeer, Laughing Gull, Least Sandpiper, Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Mottled Duck, Osprey, Palm Warbler, Pied-Billed Grebe, Prairie Warbler, Purple Gallinule, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Red-Winged Blackbird, Ring-Billed Gull, Roseate Spoonbill, Sandhill Crane, Savannah Sparrow, Snowy Egret, Sora, Swamp Sparrow, Tree Swallow, Tricolored Heron, Turkey Vulture, White Ibis, White-Eyed Vireo, Wood Stork, Yellow-Rumped Warbler