Beyond the Backyard

Two Lifers on a Drizzly Circle B Bar Reserve Morning

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Last Saturday morning I visited the Circle B Bar Reserve with the hope of seeing my first Bobolink.  Bobolinks are migratory birds that pass through Circle B during early May.  My dad has seen them several times, but I never have – I’ve missed them every year!  I knew Saturday morning would be cloudy, but when I arrived out on the Wading Bird Trail, “cloudy” was an understatement.  The air was thick with humidity and there was a slight drizzle.  But I found my Bobolinks!  There was a flock of about 100 of them across the water, north of the Marsh Rabbit Run intersection.  They weren’t close enough to photograph well, so I took a video instead.  Turn up the volume so that you can hear their song, which reminds me a lot of the Red-Winged Blackbirds. I headed farther up the Wading Bird Way trail, hoping that I might run into more Bobolinks, closer to the trail.  When I saw the lone whistling duck fly over the trail, I almost didn’t photograph him, because Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks are so common at the Circle B Bar Reserve, and lighting conditions were far from ideal.  But there have been multiple reports […]

Beyond the Backyard

Anniversary at Bok Tower Gardens

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It’s hard to believe that Rich and I have been married for seven years.  We were married at Bok Tower Gardens, so we decided to go back there today in honor of our anniversary.  Rich didn’t mind that I brought The Beast along.  We saw lots of great baby birds. Since it’s our anniversary, I’ll be nice and post a turtle picture for Rich.  (He does remind me regularly that this site was inspired by cats and turtles…long before the birding craze began!)  So here are three turtles who were sunning themselves at the Window by the Pond. There were Blue Jays all over.  These common birds do not hang out in my backyard, so it’s always fun to see them.  I spotted a juvenile bird feeding with its mother at the bird feeder (squirrel feeder!) by the tower overlook.  This adult was near the Visitor’s Center.  After years of saying I wanted a longer lens, it’s nice to complain that I clipped his tail because I needed to take off my teleconverter… :) Carolina Wrens could be heard singing throughout the gardens.  When I finally spotted one out in the open, he was in shade.  I didn’t have my […]

Beyond the Backyard

Foggy but Interesting Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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Wow it was foggy this morning!  It was all clear as I left Orlando, but the fog started when I hit I-4, and the Polk Parkway was crazy with fog.  So I wasn’t anticipating seeing too much this morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I’m glad I was wrong!  We saw tons of birds. The Red-Winged Blackbirds must be beginning to nest.  The males are displaying and calling from the treetops, providing wonderful photo ops.  It seemed like we had a blackbird on every other little tree along Heron Hideout this morning. To kill time until the fog lifted, we walked around the Eagle Roost Trail out to Wading Bird Way to look for the Sandhill Crane family that has been reported there.  It was so foggy!  We couldn’t see the Bald Eagle’s nest.  We could hear Eastern Meadowlarks, but we couldn’t see them.  When we made it out to Wading Bird Way, we could see faint shadows of birds on the trail, but we had to get pretty close before we could identify them. There were tons of little Savannah Sparrows out this morning, both on the Eagle Roost trail and along Wading Bird Way.  I got down […]

Beyond the Backyard

Songbirds at Bok Tower Gardens

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A rose-breasted grosbeak was recently seen at Bok Tower Gardens, so this morning Rich and I went to bird-watch at Bok.  We didn’t see a grosbeak, but we did see some fun songbirds. The first bird we saw this morning was a male Eastern Towhee.  He was on the ground, rooting through the grass, digging for worms.   His call really does sound like the “Drink your tea!” mnemonic on our bird CD.  Then he took the worms over to his baby and started to feed it.  A few minutes later, the birds flew into the tree right over my head, and I was able to snap a few pretty clear shots of the baby. Up by the tower, the swans were happy to pose for me (and beg for food!) There were tons of blue jays and cardinals out today.  I think I heard a bunch of baby cardinals, but I didn’t see any. I heard tons of great-crested flycatchers today.   I followed them from tree to tree, but I wasn’t able to get any decent close-ups.  Rich noticed this bird nesting box by the Exedra outlook area, and we realized that the flycatchers were flying in and out of […]

Beyond the Backyard

Hiking at Wekiva Springs State Park

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We read that Wekiva Springs is a great place to bird-watch and hike. It was the first time we’d ever seen a tufted titmouse. I thought this was a robin at first, but then upon closer inspection discovered it was an Eastern Towhee. We didn’t get to hear it do its characteristic “Drink your tea!” call, though. This Gray Catbird was right up on the path, and I was photographing him, when somebody walked right in between us and scared him off. How rude! It quickly became apparent that the birds just weren’t out today. We heard chickadees but couldn’t find them. In other places we didn’t hear birds at all. But the butterflies started to come out.