Beyond the Backyard

Silly Bird, Turn Your Head This Way!!

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After spending a cloudy morning cooped up in the house yesterday, the sun came out and I decided to head to Merritt Island to experiment with afternoon light at the Blackpoint Wildlife Drive. It was less windy than the previous day, and the birds were closer to the trail. The afternoon light was incredible! I had to work hard to get good head angles, though — the silly birds kept looking away! There were at least fifty Roseate Spoonbills along the trail. Most of them were on the wrong side of the road, and badly backlit. A few flew over my head, but my flight shots were bird-butt. Then I came across this beautiful bird in full breeding colors, almost right next to the trail! He spooned back and forth for me in the wonderful afternoon light. I liked how the mangrove was in the background, and how the whites of the spoonie contrast with the shadows. I tried and tried to catch him tossing a fish into his mouth, but I didn’t get the shot. Maybe next time! My friend Donna had said that the afternoon light was best for trying to photograph the Northern Pintails, a duck that […]

Beyond the Backyard

Beautiful Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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It was a gorgeous morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  We arrived at 7:00, just before sunrise, and the birds put on an amazing wake-up show.  The hundreds of Wood Storks and Sand Hill Cranes that roost in the marsh overnight all woke up and flew away, nicely illuminated by the rising sun.  They shared the skies with hundreds of American White Pelicans, flying towards their roosting site on Wading Bird Way.  I was annoyed that I hadn’t taken my second camera body — I was changing lenses constantly as I went from birdie close-ups with the 400mm to wider-angle landscape panoramas with the 70-200. The first bird we saw was a juvenile Wood Stork, who flew over the foggy marsh with some nesting material in tow.  He landed in a tree, where his stick seemed to get caught in the branches of the tree.  He finally yanked his branch free and flew off.  I wish the sun had been up a bit higher in order to get a sharper picture.  This was right before the sunrise, and the marsh was very foggy. Dozens of Sandhill Cranes that roosted in the marsh overnight took to the skies, honking like […]

Beyond the Backyard

The Coots have Returned to the Circle B Bar Reserve

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Things are certainly picking up at the Circle B Bar Reserve. Besides seeing the first American Coots of the season, this morning we saw a juvenile Bald Eagle doing some nice close fly-bys, three Roseate Spoonbills, and plenty of Gray Catbirds and Eastern Phoebes. Last night when we left at sunset, we said good night to the Sand Hill Cranes, who were already on one leg and starting to fall asleep. Sure enough, they were still there this morning at sunrise. We suspect this is the family with “Dyeyo’s Baby“, although now it’s hard to distinguish the juvenile from the adults. (His red and white markings on his head are not quite as bright as his parents’…) This morning the cranes diverted us by doing a little dance in the middle of the marsh, causing the White and Glossy Ibises also feeding there to have to hop out of the way. One crane in particular seemed to take particular glee in splashing other birds…and in this picture, he reminds me of a ballet dancer…hop, hop, arabesque… Then somebody called out “Spoonbills” and suddenly all photographer attention was focused on two pink birds flying high overhead. They landed in the flock […]