Beyond the Backyard

More Orange Fuzzballs at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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Two weekends ago, my friend Michael Libbe asked if I wanted to shoot together at the Circle B Bar Reserve. Little did I realize that I’d later be accused of dragging him on a long hike carrying his heavy equipment!  :-p  I perhaps should have warned him that I’m on a Sandhill Crane colt craze this year.  The little orange fuzzballs are totally worth a hike!  We found both families at Circle B on that Saturday morning. We started out on the Heron Hideout trail, where the first Sandhill Crane family tends to hang out.  The babies have gotten so big!  They are almost reaching that leggy stage when their baby cuteness is gone and their “teenage” feathers start coming in.  With their long legs and increased stamina, the babies didn’t stay in one place for very long. Michael and I followed them for a bit as they walked along the trail, stopping often to pull a nice insect from the ground.  The babies are feeding themselves now, but they will always accept a handout from Mom or Dad. With a forecast of clouds and fog, I hadn’t intended to photograph the sunrise that morning.  But as I walked along […]

Beyond the Backyard

One More from my Visit to the Circle B Bar Reserve

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One more post from Sunday’s trip to the Circle B Bar Reserve… There’s a new family of Sandhill Cranes out on Wading Bird Way. The adults had the colts out on a “vegetation island” while I was there. From the pictures posted on Flickr, it looks like they later brought the babies up onto the trail. The babies are still tiny and in their “super-cute” phase. Who can resist a tiny orange fuzzball? On a related note, I saw several adult Purple Gallinules along Wading Bird Way, and I’m almost positive that I heard babies. :) There were tons of ibises flying around. This Glossy Ibis flew right in front of me. He’s in his breeding plumage – look at the blue on his face. The “great white party” continued for a good hour after sunrise, with storks and herons and egrets flapping around as they searched for breakfast in the shallow water. This Snowy Egret did a little dance for me. He seemed to drag his feet in the water as he flew along. Sometimes he would kinda fly with his face down in the water, too. He looked pretty funny. There were tons of grackles along the trail, […]

Beyond the Backyard

A Morning of Firsts at the Click Ponds

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I saw several birds for the first time this morning at the Click Ponds: two Wilson’s Phalaropes, Black Terns, Stilt Sandpipers, and a Semipalmated Sandpiper.  It was a fun morning to be out! I arrived at the Click Ponds (across from Viera Wetlands) just after sunrise.  The Click Ponds have all but dried up and now have “gone green.”  It’s so strange to see grass growing where the water is supposed to be.  The migrating shorebirds don’t mind it this way, though. There were at least fifty Sandhill Cranes roosting at the ponds when I arrived.  (According to Michael Libbe, I just missed the four Roseate Spoonbills and the Egyptian Goose. Oh well!)  Donna Faylo joined us and we all stood watching the cranes as they danced in the gorgeous morning light.  Most the cranes were adults, but there were a couple of juveniles mixed in. In small family groups, the cranes began to take off and fly away for their daily routine.  Most of them flew away from us.  We talked to the cranes and encouraged them to fly towards us. The light was gorgeous!  I used my zoom lens and dialed in an extra stop for compensation.  Finally […]

Beyond the Backyard

Productive Morning at the Viera Click Ponds

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After hearing on Birdbrains about the early fall migrants at Viera Wetlands, I had to make a trip over there.  The wetlands itself was very unproductive, with not even the Purple Gallinules showing themselves to me.  No Black-bellied Whistling Ducks greeted me, either.  But over in the Click Ponds, there was a ton of activity.  It was the first time I’d seen American Avocets, and they are really cool.  Black-necked Stilts and their young are all over the dried-up ponds, and the sandpipers and other small birds are definitely starting to make a comeback. From what I’ve read, the Click Ponds are drained once a year as part of the water treatment activities.  They are almost completely dry right now, with green grass even starting to grow in the southern pond.  It’s strange to see.  It works out well for the little Black-Necked Stilts, though, who have a nice safe place to feed. The adult stilts are very protective of their young.  They start fussing when a human approaches, and they sometimes fuss even when you just stop your car near their kids.  In the meantime, the baby stilts wander around unconcerned.  It’s almost comical. There were a few smaller […]

Beyond the Backyard

Cute Babies at Viera Wetlands

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I went to Viera Wetlands on Saturday morning.  After all the rain on Friday, I wasn’t optimistic about the light level (I actually didn’t decide to make the drive until Saturday morning at 5am!)  There was virtually no sun till the very end of the morning, but the babies were cute and I was relatively pleased with my work from the morning.  I also had the pleasure of finally meeting Donna Faylo, as well as running into Kathy Urbach and Nancy Elwood.  We had a great time trying to catch a Least Bittern in flight.  :) When I first arrived at Viera at sunrise (a misnomer, as the clouds blocked all the sunlight), I went to the Click Ponds.  People have been posting on  Birdbrains that the low water levels have been attracting wading birds to roost at night.  When I drove up, there were no less than 50 Sandhill Cranes standing in the water.  There were also tons of Black-necked Stilts and little sandpipers.  Then the Sandhills started taking off in small groups of three or four.  I tried for some take-off shots, despite the low light.  This one looked pretty good after a Levels correction in Photoshop. A […]