Backyard photography

Looking Down at You

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This is my mom’s nemesis bird – the hawk that disturbs her little birdies at their feeders! He flew up on top of this phone pole the last time I was there. I grabbed the Beast and hand-held a few shots before he flew off. We knew he was either a Cooper’s Hawk or a Sharp-Shinned Hawk, but the two are really similar. There’s a pretty good comparison at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Based on that, I’d say this is a juvenile Cooper’s, due to the finer streaks on the belly.

Beyond the Backyard

Cuckoos Chasing Cuckoos at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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It was a gorgeous morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  The temperatures were cool, there was a little breeze, and the winter birds are coming back.  The Belted Kingfishers were posed on the power lines at the entrance to the reserve, and within a few minutes of parking, I’d located my first of fall (FOF) House Wren, Eastern Phoebe, and Gray Catbirds.  The reserve was chirping with the sound of little birds, like the Palm Warblers that have recently returned.  Friends Donna, Norm, James and I chased a Yellow-Billed Cuckoo up and down the Marsh Rabbit Run trail (the cuckoo thinks his paparazzi is a little cuckoo too!).   The other highlights of the morning included a Sora (thanks Donna!), an American Kestrel, and Indigo Buntings. The Bald Eagles have begun rebuilding their nest by the nature center.  Herman found the new nest location and mentioned it on the Circle B Flickr page.  I didn’t try to find it this morning, but I did watch in awe as the eagles circled over my head.  The highlight was when one flew towards me with nesting material.  :) I found an American Kestrel posing high in the “Treasure Tree” off the Heron […]

Backyard photography

Cooper’s Hawk

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Normally I seem to photograph juvenile Cooper’s Hawks. The other night we were walking in the neighborhood, and we came across this adult Cooper’s. Look at that bright red eye! The lighting was quite uneven, but I like how the light shows the eye so clearly. The hawk looked at me for a split second, then flew off, to the relief of all doves.

Backyard photography

Lazy Saturday in the Backyard

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The windy weather forecast kept me at home this morning.  So Rich and the cats and I had a lazy morning.  It can be nice to stay at home and enjoy your backyard birds, too! I’m pretty sure there is a Brown Thrasher nest in the backyard.  I’ve been seeing Brown Thrashers in the yard regularly for the last two weeks, always near the back rose bed.  Last week I saw both birds together, but since then, I’ve only been seeing one at a time. Wouldn’t it be fun to see the baby thrashers learning how to fly?  It’d be as much fun as watching their father enjoy our birdbath… On our walk tonight we ran into a Cooper’s Hawk near Black Lake.  Better down there than up by our yard!  He sat on somebody’s roof and watched as I got closer and closer… The Bald Eagles continue to have a presence in the neighborhood.  I think they fly over Stoneybrook to Black Lake to gather food for their baby on the nest.  It’s quite convenient when they fly overhead in nice sunset light! We also found a pair of Black-Necked Stilts down at the “Surprise Pond” behind Lakehurst.  That’s […]

Beyond the Backyard

King Rail at Sunset at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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I saw my first-ever King Rail at the Circle B Reserve tonight. I went for a sunset walk before the Lake Region Audubon Society meeting, where Fred Bassett gave an excellent talk about hummingbirds that winter in Florida. There were plenty of people out to enjoy the sunset, including a nice couple of saw me watching the rail and then asked, “Are there any bitterns around? That would be a lifer for me!” So Bill and I showed her where one of the Marsh Rabbit Run bitterns was posing not fifty feet away. Isn’t Circle B great!? I definitely prefer Circle B at sunrise, when the birds seem to be more active. In the afternoon I don’t seem to see as many birds, and I don’t like the light angles as much. Maybe that’s because I’m used to the morning light, who knows? I saw the King Rail as I turned onto Marsh Rabbit Run. It was on the north side of the trail, not far from the Heron Hideout intersection. It posed for a minute or so before it noticed me and then dove back into the vegetation. Was it something I said? I had some issues focusing with […]

Backyard photography

Rainy Day Walk around Stoneybrook West

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Another cold front passed through today, making our first day of Christmas break a very rainy one.  We were cooped up inside all morning, then finally I couldn’t take it anymore and we went for a walk between showers.  It was an unusually active walk (or maybe I’m already used to our Standard Time nighttime walks with no birds!)  We saw Bow Tie (our neighborhood Yellow-throated Warbler), an Eastern Phoebe, dozens of Palm Warblers and Yellow-Rumped Warblers, Mallards, Blue-Winged Teals, Lesser Scaups, a Ring-Billed Gull, a Female Canvasback, Snowy Egrets, several flocks of White Ibises, Pied-Billed Grebes, and my first Wilson’s Snipe at Stoneybrook West. The walk started out on a somber note with a sighting of a Cooper’s Hawk in our backyard.  On top of our big bird feeder!  But he left without causing too much birdie distress. There has been a small group of Lesser Scaups at the pond at the intersection of Tour Pointe and Town Commons.  Usually the birds are off on the other side of the pond, but today they were on my side and I could get some closer pictures (but with horrible overcast lighting).  The birds are very skittish; as soon as you […]

Beyond the Backyard

A New Place to Explore: Viera Wetlands

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I’ve heard birders mention Viera Wetlands so often that I had to get over there to see it for myself. It reminds me of Circle B Bar Reserve in that it is a local wetlands area with great birds — and unlike Circle B, which is so dry right now, this wetlands had plenty of water and there were plenty of birds as a result! I saw my first-ever Hooded Merganser and Common Snipe, which were both cool. The wetlands were covered in American Coots and Blue-Winged Teals. I also got some pictures of a flock of Green-Winged Teals and Killdeer in flight. Then there was the usual wetlands assortment of herons, egrets, and ducks. The clouds rolled in about mid-morning, but we had a great time, and I’m looking forward to going back. We lucked out — one of the first birds we saw was the Hooded Merganser. I yelped and hopped out, then by the time we got our cameras, we didn’t see him. Dyeyo tried to tell me that I’d just seen coots…and then he popped out of some vegetation and did a little flap! So we got to see his hood. He was in Cell 4. […]

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 […]

Beyond the Backyard

Slow Morning at Circle B Bar Reserve

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Dyeyo and I went to the Circle B Bar Reserve at 6:30 this morning to enjoy the early morning light with our birds.  Unfortunately, the sun didn’t really come up because it was so cloudy.  We still had a good time birding. The first bird we saw was this Little Blue Heron, who posed for us before the sun had really come up.  I tried fill flash and got some birdie red eye.  So this was a non-flash image with some fill flash added in Lightroom: As the sun came up, we were on Wading Bird Way and saw a Common Moorhen family.  We’ve been watching the chicks grow up for the past few weeks, and they’ve gotten pretty big.  Then the mother posed by herself just as the sun hit her. Nearby, an Anhinga was sitting on a post, stalking fish for his breakfast.  He seemed to be thinking about flying away, and I waited for a while trying to get the flight shot, but he didn’t want to cooperate (even after Dyeyo walked towards him, “talking” to him!)  So I got a “sunning” shot instead. As we turned onto Marsh Rabbit Run, we saw the same Red-Winged Blackbirds […]