Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Beast Meets Bobolink

I’m so behind on my blog. It’s that time of year when I’d rather be out with my camera than sitting behind a computer!

Bobolink (Female)
Bobolink (Female)

Recently I wrote about my quest to see Bobolinks at the Circle B Bar Reserve. Bobolinks are migratory birds that make a stop-over at Circle B every May during their migration north. My dad has gotten incredible shots of the Bobolinks, but I hadn’t seen them at all until this year. In my post Two Lifers on a Drizzly Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve, I put up a video of a flock of Bobolinks early on a rainy day.  In some ways they remind me of Red-Winged Blackbirds (same habitat, similar sounds, comparable size and mannerisms), and that makes sense, since they are in the same family as the Red-Wings.  I was thrilled to get my video, which shows their little “leap frog” behavior as the flock feeds.  But the light was awful and I didn’t even post stills from that morning, they were so bad.  So after my trip to Blue Cypress Lake two weeks ago, I stopped at Circle B to see if I could find more Bobolinks.  I did!  There was a flock of several hundred birds out on the Wading Bird Way trail.

Bobolink (Juvenile Male)_Circle B Bar Reserve_201305053_copyrightJessYarnell

The Bobolinks were feeding in the grasses, which were tall enough to hide the birds.  So every couple of seconds another one would pop up and fly off.  They are very dynamic birds!  My dad and I were amazed as we stood watching them come out of nowhere.  The male birds are so pretty with their jet-black feathers and black and yellow patches.  I was happy to isolate a female on a branch, too.  Even though I was hand-holding the Beast during fairly harsh light, I was happy with my images.

Then I started reading more about Bobolinks and found this neat article about their migration.  Ornithologists geo-tagged two Bobolinks so that they could study the birds’ flight patterns.  One Bobolink flew almost 1200 miles non-stop from Venezuela to the Bahamas!  (And I get tired when I have to drive four hours to see Burrowing Owls!)  The scientists were surprised to get data proving the long flights, which are comparable to the flights of much bigger shorebirds.  During the fall, the birds take their time flying down to their wintering grounds, but in the spring, they are in a hurry to get back and make a nest.

American White Pelican Party
American White Pelican Party

The other fun part of my visit to the Circle B Bar Reserve that afternoon was seeing all the American White Pelicans in the waters off the Wading Bird Way trail.  In previous winters, we’ve had thousands of pelicans roosting at this site, and birders and photographers are anxious for the birds to return.  This year we had small numbers of pelicans, but most stayed closer to Lake Hancock.  Then a week of rainy weather caused a fish kill on Lake Hancock, so the birds moved over to Wading Bird Way.  It was great to see them again!