I headed to the Circle B Bar Reserve on Wednesday on a quest for bobcats, the Gray Ghost, and eagles. You know it’s going to be a good morning when your first three birds are your first-of-fall American Robin, a Pileated Woodpecker, and a Ruby-throated Hummingbird, all seen from just outside your car door!
The calls of Gray Catbirds and Eastern Phoebes accompanied me as I meandered through Shady Oak and down by the lake. There I was hoping for some early morning flight shots. The skies were pretty quiet, though, so I trained my camera on the bushes in front of me. Palm Warblers and Savannah Sparrows hopped around, grabbing insects for breakfast. Then I heard the distinctive sound of a Painted Bunting, and I located both the female and the male a few seconds later.
Good things come in groups. As I focused on the bunting, I heard the chip of a Prairie Warbler. He showed himself a few minutes later for a brief moment before diving back down into the vegetation.
I continued down the Alligator Alley trail, enjoying the warm sun as it began to break through the chilly air. I came across a Bald Eagle perched high in the cypress trees. This is a subadult eagle, probably a third year bird. He stood watching me for a few moments, then took off calling to his friend across the marsh. While the flight shot angle wasn’t ideal, I did rather like the wing position.
Apparently I wasn’t the only one enjoying the warm sun. I came across an alligator sunning himself across the path. Rather than waiting for him to move on, I doubled back. That turned out to be a good move when a rustling sound in the vegetation revealed a Black-crowned Night Heron on the prowl. Look at that bright red eye!
I headed to my favorite Heron Hideout trail, where the morning light is beautiful and the birds are often cooperative. A family of Purple Gallinules was active on the Alligator Flag plants. They scrambled out on the long branches, reaching for the purple flowers. Sometimes the branches couldn’t sustain the bird’s weight, so the bird would catch a quick ride to the ground. I call them my pole vaulters.
Not to be outdone by the colorful gallinules, this Swamp Sparrow hopped out into the sunlight, pausing briefly for the camera before continuing his quest for breakfast.
I wandered up and down the trails. This Anhinga caught my eye. He was hanging out on a branch over the canal, with the background in deep shadow. He made quite the striking image.
The bobcats had apparently decided to stay in their warm cozy beds that morning. I ran into an old friend and enjoyed catching up with her as we concluded that we weren’t going to see “kitty” today. That’s ok – there’s always next time!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Circle B Bar Reserve?
Check out my Circle B Bar Reserve page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
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