Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

First of Season Warblers at CBBR!

How are kitten care and warbler photography alike?
Neither subject will stay still!

This morning I enjoyed an off-Friday sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I saw my first warblers of the season!  Two Yellow Warblers and one Prairie Warbler spent a pleasant 15 minutes posing for me in the top of a tree on the Marsh Rabbit Run trail.  I know shorebird migration has been underway for about a month now, but I’ve always considered the first warblers to be the sign of fall migration. :)

I arrived at Circle B just before sunrise.  It had rained there overnight, and there were large puddles on several trails.  it was great to see that the culverts on the Heron Hideout trail were all flowing with water again.  Hopefully it will keep raining, to get the water levels up before the migrant ducks arrive!

While I waited for the light to be bright enough for bird photography, I experimented some with landscape HDR and my wide-angle lens.  The sun was pretty as it peeked over the horizon and shone through the clouds.  The marsh is quite pretty at this time of year, with all the trees covered in green.  But I’m kinda looking forward to our first cold snap that will kill some of the vegetation and make it easier to see birds! :)

The juvenile Little Blue Heron that hangs out near the “Four Corners” intersection has almost completed his molt into his adult plumage.  I spotted him as he caught a bug for his breakfast.

The “golden light” of sunrise lasted for about ten minutes, until the sun went behind a cloud.  During that ten minutes, I noticed a pair of Red-Shouldered Hawks high in the treetops.  One was beautifully illuminated by the sun.  I got exactly two shots of him before he flew off, fussing at me.  I guess I invaded their personal bubbles!

Then the sun disappeared, and the clouds and breeze made the morning quite comfortable.  I walked up and down Heron Hideout.  This Green Heron surprised me, as he was standing out in the open on a branch.  Normally they like to stay more under cover.  I took this shot, then started setting up my flash.  But he flew before I got a flash shot.

As I headed down the Marsh Rabbit Run trail, a Viceroy butterfly fluttered by and settled on a nearby bush.  I liked how the filtered light hit him, illuminating his wings in stripes.  He spread out his wings, and I dialed in a smaller aperture to try to keep the entire wing expanse in focus.  Every once in a while, he’d pull his wings back.  I ended up liking a closed-wing shot the best…

The warblers were the most exciting birds along the trail.  Wood Storks and Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks posed in the trees along the trailside.  I was hoping to see some baby Black-Bellied Whistlers, but I didn’t.  We thought we’d identified a few nest cavities, but I didn’t see any signs of nesting or chicks today.  :(

But I did see some pretty flowers at the end of the trail.  Herman would have liked this blossom – it had an insect (a grasshopper?) on it.  He often teases that the Beast can’t focus as close as his macro lens…but I added an extension tube and got a fun image!

I saw several adult Purple Gallinules on the Wading Bird Way trail.  I think I also heard a new clutch of small babies.  They were close to me in the bushes, and as I stood looking for them, the parent spotted me and started fussing like crazy.  A second parent flew up and both parents encouraged me to move on.  I didn’t want to disturb them, so I did.

So I photographed this Common Moorhen family instead.  There were two adult parents, one juvenile from a previous clutch, and two recently-hatched babies.  It was fun to watch them.  The juvenile was trying to help take care of the babies, offering them food and swimming around after them.  But the babies didn’t want to take food from anybody but the parents!

Bird Species List (30 total): Anhinga, Bald Eagle, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Boat-tailed Grackle, Common Moorhen, Double-Crested Cormorant, Downy Woodpecker, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Great-Crested Flycatcher, Herring Gull (FOS), Laughing Gull (FOS), Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Mottled Duck, Mourning Dove, Northern Bobwhite (heard), Northern Cardinal, Osprey, Prairie Warbler (FOS), Purple Gallinule, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, Sandhill Crane, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, Wood Duck, Wood Stork, Yellow Warbler (FOS), Yellow-Throated Warbler (heard)

FOS = First of Season