It’s amazing how different a place can look after two weeks. The weather kept me from Circle B last weekend, and I think it’s driven a lot of the birds away too. The ponds that used to be covered in American Coots and American Wigeons were virtually empty. Not an American White Pelican did we see. I counted a lone Wood Stork. Only the Sandhill Cranes roosted as usual, but they had to move to higher ground. All the recent rains have refilled the dry pond beds – Circle B looks like a marsh again!
Robins greeted us high in trees above the parking lot as we arrived. I heard lots of American Goldfinches as well. As we turned onto Heron Hideout, the American Kestrel was on a dead palm on the west side of the trail.
Blue-Winged Teals have already moved into the new ponds. I love photographing on Heron Hideout at dawn. The water is usually still and the sun angle is perfect for awesome reflections. I know Blue-Winged Teals are common, but they are so pretty.
There is a dead tree at the "Four Corners" intersection that houses a Red-Bellied Woodpecker and his family. I’ve seen him digging out his cavity, probably preparing a nest for the spring. Today he posed in the morning sunlight. I tried to get a video of him drumming, but as soon as I started recording, he flew. How do birds know when the camera is on them?
The King Rail was still in his spot at the "Four Corners" intersection, just a little way down from the American Bittern that always poses. Someone remarked today that it must be the most-photographed bittern in all of North America! As we left, a photography group of about 15 people was gathered around that one bird. He’s amazingly cooperative.
I was hoping to see the Virginia Rail that has been reported in the same location, but he didn’t make an appearance for us today. Maybe next time.
A Pied-Billed Grebe was diving in the canal right next to Marsh Rabbit Run. I thought it was fun how the dark water contrasted so sharply with the sunlight illuminating the bird. Now if I was really in the mood to use Photoshop, I’d remove the green weeds in the background…maybe another night!
A bunch of American Coots were near the grebe in the canal. Dyeyo laughs at me for photographing the coots, but they are so expressive! This coot stuck his tongue out at Dyeyo…
When we reached Wading Bird Way, we were told that there was a group of Northern Pintails on the north side of the trail. We found them, but they were badly backlit. It’d be nice if birds adapter their habits to sun angle on some mornings!
I saw this Laughing Gull and thought it was fun to see his breeding colors starting to come in. These gulls have white faces in the winter and black faces in the breeding season. This guy is kinda halfway in the middle!
I was admiring the Tree Swallows on Wading Bird Way when I saw these birds land and rest on the trail. They are Purple Martins, the first ones I’ve ever seen at Circle B. As a matter of fact, they are the first Purple Martins I’ve seen away from a nesting box. I wish I had stayed to get better pictures, but there were too many people on the trail.
Dyeyo and I went out to the Eagle Roost to check on the nest. Herman reported seeing an eaglet head pop up over the side of the nest on Wednesday. Today when I first observed the nest, there was one parent on the nest and another close by. Then when I set up for this shot, both parents were off the nest. We watched for a few minutes without seeing any baby activity. I guess it was pretty cold and windy, maybe not the ideal weather for a baby bird to stretch…
As I left the reserve, I saw this juvenile eagle flying overhead. Except he’s not so juvenile anymore…there are a few traces of his brown-and-white juvenal plumage, but he’s quickly morphing into a full-grown adult.
The Heron Hideout trail was lined in Little Brown Jobs today, and I stopped to investigate one that looked a little different than the rest. When I got home I identified him to be a juvenile White-Crowned Sparrow. I had several decent shots of him, but my favorite was this picture of him with his mouth full…
Species List: American Bittern, American Coot, American Goldfinch, American Kestrel, American Robin, Anhinga, Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Black Vulture, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Blue-Winged Teal, Cattle Egret, Common Moorhen, Common Yellowthroat, Eastern Phoebe, Glossy Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Killdeer, King Rail, Laughing Gull, Lesser Yellowlegs, Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler, Osprey, Palm Warbler, Pied-Billed Grebe, Purple Martin, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Red-Winged Blackbird, Ring-Billed Gull, Sandhill Crane, Savannah Sparrow, Snowy Egret, Swamp Sparrow, Tree Swallow, Tricolored Heron, Turkey Vulture, White Ibis, White-Crowned Sparrow, Wood Stork