Beyond the Backyard

Callaway Gardens Vacation: Part 5 – Migrating Warblers!

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The Beast was napping in his case when Rich and I were hiking in the Azalea Bowl at Callaway Gardens last week.  I had the wide-angle lens on the camera, somewhat disappointed at the meager number of birds that we’d managed to find on our vacation.  So I put on a warming filter and concentrated on making landscape images.  (Note: an APS-C sensor with its 1.6 crop factor does not make for a good landscape camera at Callaway…the trees are so tall that you can’t fit them in the frame!) Of course, as soon as you leave the telephoto lens behind, you come across the birds!  We found a flock of mixed warblers and other small birds in the woods.  Some of them are year-round in Georgia, but with the mixed flock, I wondered if they were migrants. I ran back to get the Beast.  Even though it was mid-day and the light was very harsh, I found that the trees filtered the light, and my shots were better than I expected. The first bird I photographed was the Black and White Warbler above.  I was glad to have my 1.4x teleconverter, as the birds were all really high up […]

Beyond the Backyard

My First Orange-Crowned Warbler at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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It was an incredibly foggy morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve. I could barely make out the car in front of me as I drove in. But it turned out to be a great day for little birds. We saw a ton of warblers: Orange-Crowned, Black-and-White, Palm, Prairie, Yellow-Throated, Yellow-Rumped, Common Yellowthroat, and several Ruby-Crowned Kinglets. Overall I saw over 50 species, not bad for a foggy day!! Dyeyo and I arrived before sunrise, as usual, but it was clear that the fog was not going to lift quickly for pictures. So we took a side trip up to the Lost Bridge Trail, which we haven’t walked in a long time. We were curious to see which birds were there at this time of year, and if it would be a good place to take one of our Saturday photo hikes. Thirteen Wild Turkeys, two baby hogs, and the sounds of American Goldfinches were the main highlights. I don’t think the birds had woken up yet — it was still really dark from the fog. We then took the Alligator Alley trail down to the lake. As we passed the nature center eagle nest, Dyeyo joked that we should […]

Beyond the Backyard

Beautiful Morning at Fort De Soto

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Dyeyo and I visited Fort De Soto this morning. After my last trip there in September, I was looking forward to beaches covered in birds. But the North Beach was almost totally empty! We ran into a nice couple from England who have been vacationing at De Soto for the last month. They said that they had never seen the beaches so empty. The occasional bird would fly by as we stood on the North Beach wondering why we’d driven for two hours to photograph an empty beach. The sun was just rising and the light was beautiful. I think this is a Least Tern. I have trouble identifying all the different terns, especially in their varying plumages. I kept missing the Brown Pelican fly-bys, and I was getting a little annoyed, because the light was awesome and it made their feathers sparkle with iridescence. Finally I caught a bird flying in the right direction. Of the three or four pictures I took, this was the only sharp one. At first I was confused as to why the Brown Pelicans have white heads. But then I read that they have white heads in the winter when they are in their […]

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

Springtime at Bok Tower

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Last year Rich and I went to Bok Tower a few weeks after the azaleas bloomed, and I was mad to have missed the blooms.  So this year we went while the azaleas were in bloom.  They were pretty, but not as dramatic as what we expect to see at Callaway Gardens in a few weeks. The paths were so pretty lined with flowering bushes. Dyeyo, Rich, and I had fun bird-watching at Bok Tower.  We saw the most birds over by Window by the Pond, near the bird feeders.  I was amazed  to see several painted buntings!  One of the caretakers said that the painteds had arrived last winter and returned this winter.  There were several males hopping around.   I didn’t get a good picture of the buntings, but I did get a decent one of this black and white warbler: The caretaker also told us about another feeder near the visitor center, and when we found it, we saw this red-bellied woodpecker eating his breakfast.  He didn’t appreciate the strangers watching him eat!  He’d hop to the feeder, grab a bite, then fly higher to eat it.  He’s really a bit big to eat from a tube feeder, […]