Beyond the Backyard

Migrant Birds at Fort De Soto

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Summer Tanager (male)

Two weekends ago I had the most amazing morning photographing the migrant birds at Fort De Soto.  The trees were literally dropping with colorful birds.  Red tanagers, orange orioles, blue buntings and grosbeaks, and warblers everywhere.  It was a birder’s paradise. Good birding isn’t always good for the birds.  Most of these birds spend the winters in South America.  In April, they fly north to their breeding grounds in the United States and Canada.  Many cross the Gulf of Mexico, flying nonstop across the ocean in an incredible journey.  They take advantage of the winds to make their flight easier.  But when they encounter a front, their tail winds suddenly become headwinds, which can be deadly for the birds if they are still over water.  They land as soon as they can in what is called a “fallout.”  Fort De Soto is a place where such fallouts sometimes occur.  It offers the birds land, trees, fresh water, and a food source – mulberries. If you’re like me, you may have visited Fort De Soto several times and never known where the famous “mulberry trees” are.  Well, they are by the ranger’s house.  When you pull into the park, turn right […]

Beyond the Backyard

Easter Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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Easter sunrise, a lifer, and a bobcat…it was a very good morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve!! On Easter Sunday I was out on the Wading Bird Way trail approximately 45 minutes before sunrise.  I watched the pale glow of the sun as it appeared over the horizon, and finally burst up over the clouds.  I enjoyed playing with my new off-camera flash cord, which I used to illuminate the flowers and the rocks in the foreground.  It’s always fun to experiment with new techniques, and I’m not (yet) very proficient with creative flash.  The morning was supposed to be very cloudy, but the clouds were not so thick that they ruined the sunrise.  There was no one else out on the trail, and I had my own little sunrise service! As I stood enjoying the sunrise, I heard the familiar sound of Black Skimmers.  I was surprised, because I’d never seen Black Skimmers at the Circle B Bar Reserve before.  But as I looked up, yep, there was a small flock of skimmers skimming!  Their flight pattern when they skim is unmistakable, even in low light.  The nice thing about having two camera bodies is that I could […]