Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Hummers and Cuckoos at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Yes, that’s right, we saw a hummingbird at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning!  I didn’t get a picture—those guys move fast!  I couldn’t see it for long enough to tell what kind of hummer, either, although I assume it was a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.  But it was most definitely a hummer!  Dyeyo and I saw him on the Alligator Alley trail just past the dock.  He flew across the trail in front of us and then up into a cypress tree.

He wasn’t the only unusual bird we saw today.  Dyeyo got a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo shot!  And just like last year, I saw the bird in flight for a fleeting instant, but got no picture.  Now I have two nemesis birds for this vacation!  But it’s great to know that the cuckoo is back.  He flew over our heads as we watched the Pileated nest.

So what did I photograph this morning?  Well, there was this very fast Northern Parula that kept hopping from one branch to another in a cypress tree near the dock.  It was pure luck that allowed me to snap the shutter just as he looked at the camera in the one frame that was mostly in focus!  I noticed this guy and his buddy because of their call notes.  Later on, I heard parulas singing.  I had always thought that these were winter migrants, but I checked my field guide and Chuck Geanangel’s Birds of Polk County site and found that they are indeed resident in Polk.

Northern Parula

Northern Parula

On the dock, we stood and watched a bunch of egrets and ibises fly by.  I’m getting better at handheld flight photography with The Beast…

Great Egret

Great Egret

The region on the Alligator Alley trail where Banana Creek opens up into Lake Hancock is a really good nesting area!  That’s where we’ve seen the Barred Owls, Red-Shouldered Hawks, and Limpkins nest.  A Great Blue Heron tried to nest there.  Now there are Pileated Woodpeckers in the same tree as the Barred Owl nest.  The babies hatched since I observed the nest last weekend, and today the parents were in and out of the nest taking care of their chicks.

Pileated Woodpecker

Pileated Woodpecker

We think there are Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks and Wood Ducks nesting there, too.  They were sure hanging out in the tall trees today, calling to each other and carrying on.  There are plenty of good cavities up there for duck nests.  It sure makes you appreciate the “leap of faith” that the baby Wood Ducks take about a day after they hatch, when they jump out of those high trees down to the water, never again to return to their nest.  I was ecstatic to see a pair of Wood Ducks today, and I had to try for a picture, even with really poor lighting.  Here’s the best I got:

Wood Duck

Wood Duck

The younger baby Red-Shouldered Hawk continues in his nest.  His older sibling has fledged and we did not see him today.

The Osprey baby on Heron Hideout is growing!  But after my shots at the Winter Park Osprey nest, the Circle B nest pictures seem…far away!

We found a couple of fledgling Red-Belled Woodpeckers out searching for their breakfast with a parent.  Then we came across a nest of Red-Bellieds.  Unfortunately I didn’t hit “record” while the adult was poking his head out of the nest…so the video below shows just the nest hole, with no action, but if you listen closely (and turn up the volume), you’ll hear the hungry babies inside.

As we took the Heron Hideout trail back to the parking lot, we found Tiny Tim and his parents feeding on the side of the trail.  Tiny Tim is the baby Sandhill Crane that we first saw back at the end of April, as a tiny less-than-one-week-old colt.  “Tiny” is a misnomer now, though.  He’s almost as big as his parents, and his face is starting to get its red color.  His next challenge will be flight lessons!

Sandhill Crane juvenile

Sandhill Crane juvenile

Maybe next time I’ll get both my Swallow-Tailed Kite and the Yellow-Billed Cuckoo?  One can always hope… :)

Bird Species List (27 total): Anhinga, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Boat-tailed Grackle, Carolina Wren, Common Moorhen, Double-crested Cormorant, Glossy Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Great-Crested Flycatcher (heard), Hummingbird sp, Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Mourning Dove, Northern Cardinal, Northern Parula, Osprey, Pileated Woodpecker, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Red-winged Blackbird, Roseate Spoonbill, Sandhill Crane, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, Wood Duck, Yellow-Billed Cuckoo