Stalking a Kitty at Circle B

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“Here Kitty Kitty Kitty!”

Recent bobcat sightings inspired me to return to the Circle B Bar Reserve to search for the bobcat kittens. Alas, the cutest kitties that I photographed that morning were in my living room when I returned home! It was a windy day with good light, and the marshes were covered in people. I photographed for a little while and then returned home to cook for Thanksgiving.

This Pileated Woodpecker flew in over my head by the parking lot. I always enjoy photographing a good Pileated. It reminds me of the pre-Beast days at Oakland Nature Preserve when I was first learning to use a camera and identify birds!

Pileated Woodpecker
Pileated Woodpecker

The Purple Gallinules were back out on the alligator flag plants, but not as close as on my previous visit. It was challenging to isolate the birds since they were further away and staying down in the reeds. With such beautiful birds in beautiful light, it was still fun to try to photograph them!

Purple Gallinules
Purple Gallinules

As I watched the gallinules, I heard the persistent chip of a small warbler. Then I noticed the male Common Yellowthroat nestled in the reeds, preening himself. He paused only briefly to smile for the camera.

Common Yellowthroat
Common Yellowthroat

Off in the distance, a Red-shouldered Hawk flew in and settled at the top of a palm tree stump. He perched in the soft morning light. His head turned in all directions as he surveyed the marsh from his tall perch. I expected him to spot his breakfast and give me a flight shot, but he didn’t. I finally left him on his throne and headed home to bake my Thanksgiving pies!

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk

Brave Spoonbill Guards the Entrance to LAWD

Posted 2 CommentsPosted in Lake Apopka

An incredibly brave Roseate Spoonbill greeted me as I returned to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive on Sunday. This beautiful bird has been hanging out at the Lust Road gate for a couple of weeks now. He’s the local celebrity who stops traffic as drivers grab their cameras. He spends a good bit of his time at the edge of the canal, with his beak covered in green algae. He did me a favor and hopped up on a fence to preen, giving me a gorgeous green background for this image.

Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill

After a few days of wind and rain, I was ready to get out with the camera – even if it meant braving the weekend crowds. I opted to walk instead of drive, though. I headed up to the Crazy U area. On my way, I spotted this drake Blue-winged Teal swimming in the rippling water that reflected the golden and green tones of the nearby vegetation.

Blue-winged Teal
Blue-winged Teal

I ran into a few old friends – some human friends, and other friends with feathers. I chatted with the people as we watched for the feathered friends to emerge from the vegetation. A family of Gray-headed Swamphens was foraging relatively near the road. One of the babies called repeatedly. The adults would come out briefly, then dart back into the reeds. Finally I got a few good shots.

Gray-headed Swamphen
Gray-headed Swamphen

It was a good morning for Northern Harriers. Several female harriers rode the breeze and soared over the edge of the marsh. A few of them came close enough to the road for some decent shots.

Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier

As I headed back to my car, I noticed a bird flying in with a fish in its mouth. The Double-crested Cormorant landed in the water and triumphantly showed his prize – a big catfish. It was a pretty big fish, and I wondered how he would manage to get it down. A few seconds later, he disappeared under the water. He stayed under for about thirty seconds and then emerged with a limp fish, so I guess the bird won!

Double-crested Cormorant
Double-crested Cormorant

Eagles and a Walk around Circle B Bar Reserve

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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!

First-of-Fall American Robin
First-of-Fall American Robin

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.

Painted Bunting
Painted Bunting

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.

Prairie Warbler
Prairie Warbler

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.

Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle
Bald Eagle

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!

Black-crowned Night Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron

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.

Purple Gallinule
Purple Gallinule

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.

Swamp Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow

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.

Anhinga
Anhinga

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!