On the last day of Thanksgiving break, my dad and I were excited to take his friend Dr. B to the Circle B Bar Reserve. Dr. B has been to lots of fun places to photograph, but it was his first time at Circle B. We arrived just before sunrise and found a gray, nasty morning. The fog was thick and there wasn’t even a hint of the sun. We took the Heron Hideout trail out to Wading Bird Way. Our first good birds of the day were the Bald Eagles that nest out on the sandhill. They put on a good display for us, mating at the top of a tree! It was the first time I’ve seen them do that. So the next batch of eaglets is underway! Of course, we were so busy talking that we missed the mating shot. My first frame was the flight shot as the birds separated. But they did pose together nicely on a tree for several minutes.
Almost as we hit the Wading Bird Way trail, I spotted a small brown fuzzball out in the marshy grasses. Then I heard the small, weezy calls of baby Limpkins who are running toward the promise of apple snails. There were five Limpkin babies altogether. We spent a good long time photographing this little family as snail after snail was brought in for the young ones. The Limpkins certainly breed late! The last nest I saw last year hatched in October. Here it is December and these little guys couldn’t have been more than a week or two old.
There weren’t many birds along the Wading Bird Way path, although I did spot some good winter ducks in the distance (Ring-necked Ducks, Blue-winged Teals, and a few Green-winged Teals). So we headed down Alligator Alley to try our luck there. We found a few small birds, like a Yellow-throated Warbler and a Prairie Warbler, as well as dozens of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. But my favorites were the big American White Pelicans that were roosting on Lake Hancock. We got some flight shot opportunities as we approached the lake (nothing like a few years ago, when the birds were out there by the thousand. But Jeff, you’re doing a good job with the welcome sign – keep it up!!) Then we came across this lone pelican in a small clearing. As he swam around, a Double-crested Cormorant flew in, probably hoping for an easy meal. The cormorants are very good at stealing fish from the pelicans! But nobody got a free meal and we headed home, happy to have seen a bunch of great birds despite the gray weather!
Find my birding list from today on eBird.