Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Winter Birds are Returning to the Circle B Bar Reserve

Yesterday (Saturday) was the October photo hike at the Circle B Bar Reserve. My dad and I led three enthusiastic birders around the trails at the reserve. Last year our walks were big and we had a wide variety of birding/photography skill levels. This year our walks have been very small, and today’s group of experienced birders was a treat.

We hiked the Heron Hideout trail, Marsh Rabbit Run trail, Wading Bird Way trail, and finally looped back on the Eagle Roost trail.

It was a beautiful cool morning. We saw a House Wren, Common Yellowthroat, several Cardinals, and a bunch of Palm Warblers as we started up Heron Hideout. Then we spotted the Bald Eagles, who continue to carry nesting material across the marsh as they rebuild their nest by the Nature Center. We had several opportunities with the eagles throughout the morning. This was my favorite eagle shot:

Most of my good pictures this morning were taken on the Wading Bird Way trail. I was excited to get out there and see small groups of American Coots in the water. Coots are very common birds, and most people tease me about getting excited about their arrival in the fall. But the arrival of the coots to me means that the fall migration is truly underway, and we’ll soon see our marsh covered in birds. I can’t wait! (Besides, it’s fun to try to photograph the coots as they do their “run across water” routines. I’m still trying to get one coming straight at me!)

We didn’t see ANY Limpkins on the Wading Bird Way trail this morning. That’s rather unusual. We did see the Limpkin that hangs out on Marsh Rabbit Run. Today he was doing this strange hop-skip-jump dance, flapping his wings around like crazy. Herman said that the Limpkin must have thought he was a Reddish Egret.

We saw many Glossy Ibises in the marsh, and several flocks of White Ibis flew over as well. Then this lone White Ibis posed for me on a post on Wading Bird Way.

There’s a Snowy Egret that’s been posing pretty consistently at one of the culverts on Wading Bird Way. Last weekend I had the Beast with me, and my lens was too long to photograph him. Today I had the intermediate telephoto instead, so I spent some time experimenting with contrast with the Snowy. The water behind him is black, and he’s bright white, so the exposure is tricky. I dialed in negative exposure compensation and double-checked my “blinkies” several times before I got it right.

As the weather gets cooler, more birds (and more photographers) are showing up at the Circle B. It’s a great time to get outside and enjoy nature!

Two of our participants just moved to Florida, so they were asking all about the Florida birds. A good resource for this is the Bird Brains e-mail list, where people post rare sightings and/or identification questions. I read it regularly. Another great resource is the Cornell Lab of Ornithology website, which has lots of useful information about bird identification and behavior.

Bird Species List (31 total): American Coot, American Kestrel, Anhinga, Bald Eagle, Belted Kingfisher, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Blue-Winged Teal, Boat-tailed Grackle, Common Gallinule, Common Yellowthroat, Double-Crested Cormorant, Eastern Phoebe, Glossy Ibis, Gray Catbird, Great Blue Heron, Great Egret, House Wren, Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Palm Warbler, Pied-Billed Grebe, Prairie Warbler, Purple Gallinule, Red-Bellied Woodpecker, Red-Shouldered Hawk, Red-winged Blackbird, Sandhill Crane, Tricolored Heron, White Ibis, Wood Stork