Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Awesome Morning with the Baby Limpkins at CBBR

I had an awesome morning yesterday (Saturday) at the Circle B Bar Reserve with my dad and Michael Libbe.  We had a great sunrise and then spent some quality time with the baby Limpkins on the Wading Bird Way trail. :)

The sunrise was beautiful.  We arrived on Wading Bird Way about 10 minutes before sunrise, and we stood watching as the sun peeked out over the tops of the trees on the horizon.   As it rose, it went behind some clouds, making it easier to photograph.  I had my camera set to bracket for HDR, and I dialed in a small aperture to maximize depth of field (and because I know that beam will show sunbeams as stars at small apertures!)  I love how the sun lit up the marsh and the white flowers in the foreground.

After we tired of the sunrise, the light was still too low to go photograph the baby Limpkins, who were following Mom along the trail.  So I turned my attention to the flock of egrets feeding in the distance.  I had fun trying to make good flight shots, with the pretty green foliage blurred in the background.  This was my favorite.

I was a little surprised not to see any Pied-Billed Grebes when I was at CBBR yesterday.  Today there were at least seven out on Wading Bird Way, and I saw several more later on the Heron Hideout trail.  I caught one of the grebes as he got spooked by something and then ran across the water.  I’ve never seen grebe feet before – they remind me of a coot’s feet.  When I got home, I was excited to see that a couple of my shots were in focus. :)

But of course we were there to photograph the baby Limpkins, and as soon as the light was strong enough, we made our way down to the little family.  They were just hanging out on the trail during the entire sunrise.  The Limpkin population at CBBR has been growing in proportion to the availability of apple snails, their primary food source.  I think this is the first year when we’ve had documented nesting at Circle B (these guys are the second family that I know of, but these are certainly the best photographed!)

It was either a traumatic or a very exciting morning for the baby Limpkins.  We were photographing the babies as they swam behind Mom near one of the culverts.  As we watched, three of the four babies were caught in the current of the water flowing under the trail.  They disappeared underneath us and popped out on the other side of the trail!  I said, “oh no!”, but the babies didn’t seem to mind.  Maybe they thought it was a great thrill ride.  Mom quickly hid Baby #1, then listened for her lost chicks.  They hid themselves in the vegetation and called for her.  We waited and waited, trying not to disturb them but wanting to see the little family reunited.  After a while, Mom and Baby #1 made their way up onto the trail.  A while later, the three lost chicks joined them.  After the reunion, Baby #1 was fed a nice apple snail.  Was he being rewarded for being a good chick?  We’ll never know!

Bird Species List (37 total): Anhinga, Bald Eagle, Black Vulture, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Blue Jay (heard), Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Blue-Winged Teal, Caspian Tern, Common Gallinule, Double-Crested Cormorant, Eastern Meadowlark (heard), Grackle sp., Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, Laughing Gull, Limpkin (babies!), Little Blue Heron, Mourning Dove, Northern Cardinal, Northern Mockingbird, Osprey, Pied-Billed Grebe, Pileated Woodpecker (heard), Purple Gallinule, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, Sandhill Crane (heard), Swallow sp, Tricolored Heron, Tufted Titmouse (heard), Turkey Vulture, Unidentified Peep Flock, White Ibis, Wood Duck, Wood Stork