Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Early Migrants at the Circle B Bar Reserve

You know that the hot summer is coming to a close at the Circle B Bar Reserve when you start seeing the first Pied-Billed Grebes on the Wading Bird Way trail.  Although grebes are year-round residents in Polk, I don’t seem to see them until the very end of summer.  The same goes for the Caspian Terns.  So it was exciting to see both yesterday at the reserve.  The winter migrants are coming!!

The Common Moorhens aren’t migrants, but they are fun to photograph.  There was a family that I watched for about 15 minutes.  There were two juveniles and two parents, but one parent was a little way away.  When the juveniles started to carry on, the parent came swimming toward them, fussing.  I liked how the adult’s reflection showed so nicely in the water, and I tried to hit the shutter when the bird’s mouth was open in mid-fuss.  I had two successful attempts, and this was my favorite:

The juveniles continued to fuss, splashing around and carrying on.  As one ran towards me on top of the water, I managed to hit the shutter button and almost achieve good focus on his head!  It was close enough… :)

I turned away from the moorhens and gawked as a sizeable gator meandered across the trail.  Then I noticed movement in a small shrub on Wading Bird Way.  When I looked closer, I saw that it was a Yellow Warbler.  They’ve been migrating through the area for the past several weeks.  The last one that I saw at CBBR was on August 19.

The Yellow Warbler wasn’t the only warbler that I saw yesterday.  I headed down the Marsh Rabbit Run trail, paying careful attention to all movement in the tall oak trees.  I heard Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers all over the place, and I finally saw one.  Then I saw a pair of Northern Parulas that were feeding on small insects high up in a tree.  They were accompanied by a Yellow-throated Warbler, the first I’ve seen this fall.

If you’re looking for warblers, I’ve noticed that the early bird doesn’t always get the worm.  I don’t seem to come across small flocks of them until at least 9:00.  I guess that’s good news for the people who don’t like to be up for the sunrise! :)

I spotted a small flock of shorebirds in the distance.  As they flew, the undersides of their wings shone silver.  I’ve seen that behavior before, and it was from Least Sandpipers last year.  I think these are Least Sandpipers also.

I think I missed all the baby Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks this year.  They nest in cavities, and then the water levels are low enough that I think the parents took their chicks to find water farther away from the trails.  Now I’m seeing the juvenile birds flying around with their parents.  One way to distinguish the adults and the juveniles is to look at the beak color: juveniles have dark beaks, and adults have orange beaks. This morning as I left, I noticed a family of ducks fly into a tree and stand in a line. The parents were in the middle, and three juveniles were on either side.  All were whistling vigorously.  The kids bobbed their heads up and down, as if to beg for food, and one even bit its parent’s beak.  I had a little window through vegetation on this little scene, and I took several shots as the juveniles carried on.  I will admit to stitching two shots together here to form this final picture.  A little Photoshop was a lot easier than waiting for all the silly ducks to interact nicely AND look at the camera! :)

Bird Species List (33 total): Anhinga, Bald Eagle, Barn Swallow, Black Vulture, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Blue Jay, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Caspian Tern, Common Moorhen, Double-Crested Cormorant, Grackle sp., Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Killdeer (heard), Least Sandpiper, Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Mourning Dove, Northern Cardinal, Northern Parula, Osprey, Pied-Billed Grebe, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, Tricolored Heron, Turkey Vulture, White Ibis, Wood Duck, Wood Stork, Yellow Warbler, Yellow-Throated Warbler