Beyond the BackyardCircle B Bar Reserve

Long Walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve

This weekend my dad and I headed out to the Circle B Bar Reserve to scope out the birds.  It’s been ages since we’ve been there, and we missed it.  We used to hike out there every weekend.  So we parked at the entranceway, walked up the main walk, around Alligator Alley, detoured on Heron Hideout, headed out Marsh Rabbit Run, and then circled back to the cars via Wading Bird Way and Windmill Whisper.  By the time we were done, my legs were tired!

Early Morning along Lake Hancock
Early Morning along Lake Hancock

Sunday was a very cold morning.  We stopped on the dock to check Lake Hancock for American White Pelicans, and we found the sun throwing its warming rays on the trees.  But no American White Pelicans!  It was surreal after seeing so many at the Christmas Bird Count just a few short weeks ago.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

The biggest Circle B news lately seems to be the nesting Eagles on Alligator Alley.  They are building a nest near the Great Blue Heron nest at the bend where Alligator Alley turns away from Lake Hancock.  The eagles were hanging out in the far trees, and we chose not to join the line of tripods pointed out into the marsh.  It was very fun to see the herons with babies, as that nest has failed often in the time that I’ve visited Circle B.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Flight
Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Flight

Upon hearing the whistling calls of ducks on Heron Hideout, we took a detour for some flight shots.  Several dozen Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were hanging out in the marsh not too far from the trail.  Every couple of minutes, they would take flight and call out to all the other ducks.  They were such fun to watch!  I was pleased to see that I could auto-focus quickly and accurately with a 1.4x teleconverter on the Canon 100-400mm mark II lens.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Flight
Black-bellied Whistling Duck in Flight

Halfway up Marsh Rabbit Run, we came across a tree covered in tiny Blue-gray Gnatcatchers.  They didn’t seem to mind that we were there, and they hopped happily from branch to branch in search of the perfect insect.  My favorite shot was of this little guy as he peeked at me after swallowing a bug.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Wading Bird Way was almost devoid of ducks.  It was sad to see after previous years when the waters were covered in birds.  The water levels are really high this year, which doesn’t tend to attract the ducks.  My next best shot was almost back at the car, when this Gray Catbird paused from eating beautyberries to tell us “Meow! Meow!”

Gray Catbird
Gray Catbird

I’ve always believed that Gray Catbirds are in a secret association with my gray cat Squirt.  When I hear “maaaa!” from the bird, I’m supposed to hear “Mieu!!  Go home and feed Squirt”!!

So I did. :)

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