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

So Many Fence Posts, So Few Birds…

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After reading about how Joe Overstreet Road is such a great place for bird photography, I’ve been meaning to get there all winter.  But I didn’t get the opportunity until this morning.  It wasn’t exactly what I expected.  But I did end up with some fun pictures! I wanted to visit Joe Overstreet for Eastern Meadowlarks, Crested Caracara, Swallow-tailed Kites, and maybe even a Snail Kite.  It seems that the kites are my nemesis bird this vacation.  I keep seeing them when I don’t have a camera in hand!  Not fair.  I didn’t see the first one today.  Actually, about 20 minutes down the road, I was shooting the sunrise mist in the fog, wondering where the birds were.  I even shot an empty post, to put on the blog in case I didn’t see any birds!  But as I drove down the road, I did finally start to see some. My first bird of the morning was an American Crow.  He posed on the road in front of me, making me wish I could customize a car for photography without a windshield!  But I was happy to have my windshield a few seconds later, when a big truck came […]

Backyard photography

Killdeer Close-up

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We came across a Killdeer on our walk this evening.  We hear them around the neighborhood every day, but this guy was unusual because he was pretty close to the sidewalk.  He didn’t mind much when I got closer, either.  I’ve missed seeing these guys at the Circle B Bar Reserve in the recent weeks.  

Beyond the Backyard

Diving Hoodies at Viera Wetlands

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Dyeyo and I drove over to Viera Wetlands in search of the Ross’s Goose that has been reported there on the BirdBrainz list serve.   We didn’t see the goose, but we did see a group of happy, diving Hooded Mergansers.  It was the first time either of us had seen a female Hoodie (we don’t typically see mergansers at the Circle B Bar Reserve where we normally bird.) We got to Viera and decided to drive around the perimeter once to locate the birds.  Except we saw so many birds that the “first lap” took more than half our morning! The first bird we spotted was a Wilson’s Snipe.  He was fishing in some short reeds and obligingly came out periodically to allow us to photograph him.  This was my first opportunity for full-frame snipe photos.  Usually the snipes are far away and I’m just happy to see them at all. We paused to take a duck inventory of the many American Coots, Pied-Billed Grebes, and Ring-Necked Ducks that covered the wetlands.  A Belted Kingfisher came screeching across the landscape and landed on a dead palm tree right in front of us.  With my new 500mm lens, he was practically […]

Beyond the Backyard

Snow Geese at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge

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Dyeyo and I continued our bird-watching safari.  After we saw the Snow Bunting in Palm Coast, we went to Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Rufuge, where several Snow Geese have been reported there over the last week or so.  They were there!  They usually don’t come to Florida.  There was a mix of white morph adults and juveniles, and one juvenile blue morph. Dyeyo and I really liked Lake Woodruff.  It reminded us of the Circle B Bar Reserve.  We were there around mid-day, which is not prime bird activity time (or bird photography time!)  But there were hundreds of birds.  We’ve  never seen such large flocks of Glossy Ibis.  White Ibis, Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, Little Blue Herons, and Killdeer were all over the place. The first thing we saw when we walked into the refuge was a turtle.  (Happy Rich!)  He sat there sunning himself, with all four of his feet sticking out.  The turtle kind of rocked back and forth on his shell.  We saw several turtles over the course of the day. There were Killdeer all over the place at Lake Woodruff.  There were a couple of birds on the ground right in front of us as […]

Beyond the Backyard

Cranes and Pelicans and a Circle B Sunset

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Dyeyo and I went for a quick walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve this afternoon. I’ve been wanting to photograph one of our spectacular golden sunsets that we’ve been having lately, but tonight’s wasn’t like that. It was pretty, though. I waited for the sun to start going behind a cloud, then took this picture. I should have added a split neutral density filter. So I used Lightroom to adjust the exposure of the foreground. I can’t wait for Photoshop and Merge to HDR… This evening we walked Heron Hideout and Marsh Rabbit Run out to see the sunset over Wading Bird Way. We saw Killdeer in the dried-up beds at the beginning of Heron Hideout. Dyeyo spotted them — he has good eyes! They blended in so well with the vegetation that I stared at one for about a minute before I really saw him. We saw (and heard!) several more Killdeer as we walked. My favorite pictures were a couple of flight shots, which I merged together in Photoshop. They are all the same bird, who turned a few times as he flew towards me. I tried to capture that feeling of motion as I positioned the […]

Beyond the Backyard

Sunny Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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My in-laws are visiting this weekend, and Rich and I took them for a walk to the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning. We were welcomed by some Killdeer on the Heron Hideout trail. This is my first sharp Killdeer picture, and I was excited to get it. :) A hawk was watching us from the “treasure tree” as we headed up Heron Hideout. We had fun watching an alligator as we turned onto Marsh Rabbit Run. This Pied-Billed Grebe swam close (but not too close) to the gator. There were tons of Blue-Winged Teals out today. I liked the blue and green feather patches shown in this picture: I was excited to see Ring-Necked Ducks out on Wading Bird Way. I also saw my first Northern Harrier flying over the marsh, and a flock of Least Sandpipers said goodbye as we left. Species list: Anhinga, American Coot, American Goldfinch, Belted Kingfisher, Black-Bellied Whistling Duck, Black Vulture, Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher, Blue-Winged Teal, Boat-Tailed Grackle, Common Moorhen, Double-Crested Cormorant, Eastern Phoebe, Glossy Ibis, Gray Catbird, Great Blue Heron, Greater Yellowlegs, House Wren, Killdeer, Least Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Lesser Scaup, Limpkin, Little Blue Heron, Mottled Duck,Northern Harrier, Osprey, Palm Warbler, Pied-Billed Grebe, Red-Bellied […]

Beyond the Backyard

Windy Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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Hundreds of White Ibis took to the air this morning over the Circle B Bar Reserve. The cold and the wind kept most of the birds under cover, but the White Ibises seemed to know how to navigate despite the gusts. On Heron Hideout, the marsh on the left is completely dry, and it seems surreal. We need a good rain to get the water level back to normal. I spied a couple of small birds running around over the dry land, and took a couple of very bad pictures (looking straight into the rising sun). The birds were Killdeer, a species I’ve never seen before at Circle B (although they are pretty common.) We were happy to see the baby Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks again, at the intersection of Heron Hideout and Marsh Rabbit Run. As usual, the parents had the babies tucked away in the vegetation. I guess they are not really “babies” anymore, but “juveniles.” Birds grow up so quickly! The whistling ducks were the other birds who were not deterred by the winds. We saw several little Flight School circles, where parents and juveniles flew in circles, calling each other like crazy. There were little birds in […]