Beyond the Backyard

"Sunrise" Skyway and Fort De Soto Birds

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The best colors of sunrise are often about half an hour before sunrise, and this morning the colors were totally worth the early wake-up call and two-hour drive to Fort De Soto!  I arrived around 6:45 and made my way to East Beach, where the sun was just starting to show itself on the horizon.  The orange colors in the sky were amazing.  I played with my 24-70 and my 70-200 lenses, trying to figure out which focal length I liked best.  I also bracketed for HDR. The sun angles are changing quickly lately, and right now, you can catch the sun rising over the Sunshine Skyway bridge if you position yourself on the East Beach.  Friends Michael and Dan joined me as the sun peeked out over the bridge.  With no clouds in the sky, the sun was blinding and bright as it rose.  I used Live View so that I could adjust the framing without looking at the sun. It was a great morning to be out with friends.  The temperatures were nice and cool, and I was glad I had grabbed a sweatshirt on my way out!  After the sun was up, we headed to North Beach […]

Beyond the Backyard

Redstarts and Warblers and Buntings, Oh My!

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The cold front moved through and brought not only cooler temperatures, but lots of migrant birds!  I spent a very nice morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve with Dyeyo.  We chased lots of little birds and ended up with a pretty good migrant count, including an Indigo Bunting!! :) We hiked the Heron Hideout trail, Marsh Rabbit Run trail, and Wading Bird Way trail this morning.  We hadn’t been on Marsh Rabbit Run for more than two minutes before we spotted a male American Redstart.  I’ve only seen females before, so I was pretty excited.  We chased that little bird in and out of the oak treetops for over an hour!  Photographing him was quite challenging, for many reasons:  the light was uneven, the bird kept hiding, autofocus kept triggering on the leaves instead of the birds, etc.  So I was happy to get a few shots with the bird in focus, kinda-sorta looking at the camera. :) We heard Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers all over the place.  They are so cute!  I’m glad that they are back.  For the most part they are staying high in the trees now.  In a few weeks, they will start to come lower into […]

Beyond the Backyard

Circle B Migrants

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I felt like playing with Photoshop today, so I made another warbler and migrant bird collage. These little birds are usually high in the oak canopies, and it’s hard to get great pictures of them. They also hop around really fast. You come home with a stiff neck and then squint at your pictures, asking “is there really a bird in there?” So this is combination of a bunch of pictures from the last month, severely cropped. I think I have them all identified correctly, but they are the “confusing fall warblers”, so please tell me if you notice a mistake. Click on the image above for a higher-resolution version.

Beyond the Backyard

Migrants Making their Way to Circle B

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It was a cloudy, foggy, and humid morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  As we headed out Heron Hideout into more and more fog, we doubted that we would see much.  But it turned out to be our most productive species morning in several months.  The migratory birds are definitely making their way back to Circle B! We started out on Heron Hideout, where we basically observed fog.  It had just rained within the last few hours, and there were puddles everywhere. We arrived at sunrise, but there was no sun to be seen with such thick cloudcover and fog.  So we decided to avoid the mosquitoes of Alligator Alley and take the Eagle Roost over to Wading Bird Way. As always, the Common Moorhens were entertaining on Wading Bird Way.  We saw at least three generations of birds, with adults, early spring juveniles, and fairly young babies. I liked this juxtaposition image of the adult and an early spring juvenile: There was just one tiny baby, and it was swimming around a lot in open water, with just one older chick keeping an eye on it.  Earlier in the spring, there were dozens of babies, and the parents […]