Happy Mother’s Day! Dyeyo and I spent a few hours at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning before going to spend some time with my mom. It seemed appropriate that we saw a bunch of baby birds with their moms today. :)
We hiked the Alligator Alley loop this morning, starting just after sunrise. Dyeyo had to try out his new lens on the hawk’s nest that is very close to the trail! We ran into Al and Diane at the dock, where we did some flight photography. There were tons of gators in Lake Hancock, and tons of birds too – Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, a few Black-Crowned Night Herons. These were my favorite flight images:
A juvenile Little Blue Heron greeted us as we continued along the Alligator Alley trail. These birds look so scruffy as they molt from their juvenal while plumage into their adult blue colors! They remind me of little kids dressed in white who were helping paint a room blue…
The hawk’s nest is popular now, and we spotted the crowd of onlookers before seeing the nest itself. The babies have grown since last week. People were complaining that the babies are different sizes because the mother doesn’t feed the little one. However, if you look at the two birds, the little one is still covered in down while the big one has started to look more like an adult hawk. I’m pretty sure there’s a significant difference in the age of these two birds. So the mother probably doesn’t feed the little one as much because he doesn’t need to eat quite as much (yet). Despite his smaller size, he could definitely hold his own when it came to screaming for his mom to come feed him!
Herman suggested that there may be Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks nesting in the area around “The Bend,” and I think he’s right. We saw a bunch of whistler activity in that area this morning. It’s fun to see these guys again. We haven’t seen them so much since the closing of the Marsh Rabbit Run trail.
I spotted the baby Limpkins near “The Bend.” Except they have lost their fuzzy down and now look like miniature versions of their parents. They were learning how to eat apple snails today as we watched…
We made our way back out to the Heron Hideout trail, where we looked for Purple Gallinules (none today). Dyeyo spotted a lone Roseate Spoonbill flying over the marsh. I managed to get a few quick shots before he flew out of sight.
I was hoping to see babies in the Osprey nest in the big dead palm tree, but we just saw the two adult birds. One brought food for the other, and they didn’t seem to be sharing with any little guys deep down in the nest. I can’t wait to try out The Beast on the little heads that will soon be popping up over the side of that nest! In the meantime, I settled for taking pictures of the Black-Necked Stilt that was feeding nearby.
As we left, we spotted the Sandhill Crane family in the Otter parking area. The colt has grown so much in the last few weeks! He was stretching his wings big time this morning, making me wonder how long it’s going to be before he takes flight. Despite his size, he was still happy to accept food morsels from Mom while Dad stood protectively nearby…
Happy Mother’s Day!!
Species List: American Coot, Anhinga, Black Vulture, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Black-Necked Stilt, Boat-tailed Grackle, Common Moorhen (baby!), Double-crested Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Limpkin (baby!), Little Blue Heron, Mourning Dove, Northern Bobwhite (heard), Northern Cardinal, Northern Parula (heard), Osprey, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-shouldered Hawk (babies!), Red-winged Blackbird, Roseate Spoonbill, Sandhill Crane (babies!), Tricolored Heron, Tufted Titmouse (heard), White Ibis, Wood Stork