Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Baby Birds Take Flight at Circle B Bar Reserve

It was a slow start to the morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I pulled up to the main gate at 6:30, hoping to catch the sunrise.  But the gate was closed!  All I could think was “I drove an hour to get here and it’s closed!?!?”  As Dyeyo and I chatted about where to go instead, the security guy drove up and opened the gate.  :)

We hiked the Alligator Alley trail this morning.  It was really quiet – there were very few birds out, and not many of them wanted to pose for us.  I think the highlight of the morning was seeing three Sandhill Cranes fly overhead, and one of them was a baby!  I suspect it was Tiny Tim.  I wish I had gotten a picture.

Our first bird of the morning was a singing Carolina Wren, but we didn’t have enough light to get a good shot.  Then as we got to the dock, we ran into a flock of Black Vultures.  There were at least fifty of them, all over the paths and the trees and the dock.  They were funny to watch as we approached.  They didn’t like us approaching, but they didn’t want to move.  One by one, they did this little run, taking several steps before propelling themselves ungracefully into the air.  They are such big birds, and you could hear all their feathers rustling as they moved.  Once safe in the trees, they still didn’t trust us, and they gave us the evil eye as we passed below.  I got a few nice head shots.

Black Vulture

Black Vulture

At the “owl tree”, where the Barred Owls and then the Pileated Woodpeckers nested, we came across a pair of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks who seem to be considering building their nest in the tree as well.  I guess good trees with nice cavities are interesting to many birds!  The duck seemed to turn around and poke into the cavity, but then left the tree unoccupied.  I’m guessing that if there are going to be eggs, they aren’t there yet…

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck

Black-Bellied Whistling Duck

There weren’t a lot of birds on the trail.  But the cute squirrels were all over.  This little guy had a tiny tail to match his small size.

Squirrel

Squirrel

At the oak trees at the end of the trail, we found  a couple of recently-fledged Red-Bellied Woodpeckers.  They were really hard to photograph.  They hopped from branch to branch directly over my head.  I had to pull the tripod towards me onto one leg and sorta scrunch down to aim the camera that high.  I couldn’t hold that pose for long, but I got a few frames.  I didn’t realize that I’d gotten the bird with his tongue out!

Juvenile Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Juvenile Red-Bellied Woodpecker

At the “Four Corners” intersection, the grackles were having a party.  Lots of females and juveniles gathered to fuss…and fuss…and fuss!  They aren’t the most exciting birds, but they did provide me with plenty of photo ops as they went from branch to branch.  It’s always fun to laugh at juveniles flapping their wings as they beg for food.

Grackle

Grackle

Grackle

Grackle

The water levels are extremely low, despite all the rains this week.  So I was surprised to see a White Ibis fishing in a wading pond off the Heron Hideout trail.  The morning light was pretty much gone, but the reflections were still interesting.  When the ibis grabbed a big grub or something, my shutter went nuts.

White Ibis

White Ibis

I was excited to see the juvenile Osprey still in his nest in the palm tree.  I took a few pictures, blinked, and then the nest was empty!  The juvenile Osprey was soaring across the marsh.  He came to land in the “Treasure Tree”, and he let me approach him.  It’s so cool to watch a chick fledge from that nest, especially after last year’s chicks didn’t make it.

Osprey

Osprey

Bird Species List (21 total): American Coot, Anhinga, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Boat-tailed Grackle, Carolina Wren, Common Moorhen, Glossy Ibis, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Mourning Dove, Northern Bobwhite (heard), Northern Cardinal, Northern Parula (heard), Osprey, Red-winged Blackbird, Sandhill Crane, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, Wood Stork