Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Fall Walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Yesterday I finally made it out for a fall walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I haven’t been there in months!  It felt great to get back out on the trails.  I love photographing along the Heron Hideout trail early in the morning on these early fall days.  The light is golden and gorgeous, illuminating the birds that are starting to return to the reserve.  The Alligator Flag plants are high and in full bloom, and dozens of Purple Gallinules hop along the reeds.  Occasionally a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher or a Palm Warbler comes along to nectar from the tiny purple flowers.  So I headed for my favorite spot, knowing I’d come away with something good.

Fire Flag Flower
Fire Flag Flower

Those silly Purple Gallinules!  They were on the wrong side of the trail!  A great big group of them were diving and chucking at me as I explained to them that they were on the afternoon light side of the trail.  They didn’t seem to care. :)

Of course, if I hadn’t been standing there watching for Purple Gallinules, I never would have noticed this American Bittern fly by.  I’ve been trying for good flight shots of these guys for years.  They are so secretive, and you’re lucky to get a shot of them posing out in the open in the grass, much less in flight!

American Bittern in Flight
American Bittern in Flight

I found the family of four Limpkin chicks that was feeding in the culverts.  Mom and Dad didn’t seem to care a bit that I was standing there.  They’d go to one side of the culvert, find an Apple Snail, and carry it over to the other side, where the wheezy whiny voices of their babies would crescendo as the parent pulled the prey from the shell.  I almost had too much lens for this little family, who entertained me as I walked up and down the trail, looking for small birds.

Limpkin Chick Learning to Eat Apple Snails
Limpkin Chick Learning to Eat Apple Snails

Something I didn’t expect to find was a dragonfly still covered in dew.  I’ve seen such cool pictures of insects covered in dewdrops, and I’ve often wondered how those people found their subjects.  Well, mine flew in right in front of me!  I guess it pays to meander up and down the trail with no real destination in mind.  Next time I should meander with my flash!

Dragonfly with Dewdrops
Dragonfly with Dewdrops

Butterflies were also plentiful on this pretty fall morning.  A White Peacock flew in front of me and posed on some bushes.  I wished I’d taken my extension tubes!  The pale green background is such a pretty backdrop for this white butterfly.

White Peacock Butterfly
White Peacock Butterfly

I spotted a small bird hopping along the edge of the trail.  I focused my camera on him, and to my surprise, it wasn’t a warbler.  It was a Lark Sparrow!  Lark Sparrows are pretty rare in Central Florida.  I’ve only seen one of these guys before, last year at Fort De Soto.  It’s fun traveling to see rare birds, but it’s even better to stumble upon one when you least expect it!  Thanks to Cole Fredericks for confirming the ID for me.  This guy posed for about a minute, then flew off towards Lake Hancock.  Hopefully he’ll stick around for other birders.

Lark Sparrow
Lark Sparrow

I didn’t get too many opportunities with the Purple Gallinules, but the Red-winged Blackbirds decided to cooperate with me and pose some in the Alligator Flag reeds.  Look at the light!  It makes even common birds look so great. :)

Red-winged Blackbird (Female)
Red-winged Blackbird (Female)

I am definitely not going to let another five months pass before I return to Circle B again. :)  See you out there on the trails!

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