Beyond the Backyard

My First Visit to Lake Morton

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After a quiet morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve on Friday, Dyeyo and I decided to head to Lake Morton. Herman has been telling me about it for ages, and he always knows the good birding places! There were lots of Ring-necked and Ruddy Ducks sleeping on the lake. It was my first opportunity to see a male Ruddy. They are pretty. The Ruddys stayed out in the middle of the lake, but the Ring-neckeds came in close. Dyeyo and I both had opportunities to photograph them full-frame. It almost felt too easy, setting up on the side of the lake and photographing all the birds going by. We’ve heard that several hundred American White Pelicans were roosting at the lake. We got there around 10:00 in the morning, and we found three pelicans. They mostly hung out in the middle of the lake, standing on the little platform around the Christmas tree. They made a pretty funny sight, out there with the Double-Crested Cormorants. I want to go back in the early morning to see if more are roosting there in the evenings. They tend to fly off pretty early. There were so many swans! I thought the […]

Beyond the Backyard

Early Morning at the Viera Wetlands Click Ponds

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I had a great morning with friends at the Viera Wetlands. The morning started at the Click Ponds, two small ponds adjacent to the wetlands. After a post to Birdbrains yesterday about a Common Loon, which I’ve never seen, I was anxious to try for one. But we didn’t see one. We did see my first Horned Grebe, but he was so far away that I won’t embarrass myself by posting it. :) Suffice it to say that even a Beast sometimes yields pictures where the subject is a small pinpoint! I was surprised to see several Green Herons in the grasses. They stood with their necks stretched, and they reminded me of Least Bitterns. One flew in and posed right in front of me for a few seconds. The light was absolutely horrible, so I ended up sharpening this picture in Lightroom. The sun actually did come out during the “golden hour”…for about five seconds. Lucky for me, I had just found the three Redheads and single Canvasback, and the sun’s light came at the perfect time. The ducks dove, splashed, then came up “all in a row.” I exposed to the right and then adjusted the image in […]

Beyond the Backyard

Even an Icky Day is Good at Circle B Bar Reserve

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I almost decided not to go to the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning. The forecast predicted a mostly cloudy morning, and the cloud cover over our house at 6am was thick. But I didn’t want to miss my last vacation opportunity to go to Circle B, so I went anyway. My dad likes to say that Circle B never disappoints, and today was no exception. I heard my first American Goldfinches of the season, and got a Redhead flight shot! This morning started out gray and the sun was behind the clouds, so I parked at the Nature Center and walked over to the new eagle’s nest. I was curious how well I’d see it with The Beast. With The Beast and the 1.4x teleconverter, I got the shot below. When I added the 2x teleconverter as well, I was full-frame on the nest. Hopefully the nest will be productive this year! The eagles were both at the nest for a little while, arranging branches down in the middle. Then one flew away while the other sat up on the branches over the nest. So they are not on eggs yet. Lately I’ve been enjoying flight shots on the […]

Beyond the Backyard

A Great Morning to be Outside at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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It was cool and a little breezy this morning, and it felt so good to get up early and go see some “golden light!”  The Beast and I made our first trip to Circle B in several weeks.  Some ducks have settled in, but not as many as I seem to remember from last year.  The wading birds aren’t as plentiful, either.  But there are tons of little birds!  I had my first Ruby-Crowned Kinglet, Savannah Sparrow, and Northern Harrier of the season. This morning I hiked Heron Hideout trail and the Marsh Rabbit Run trail out to the Wading Bird Way trail. The Alligator Flag plants on Heron Hideout have grown very tall and thick, and the little birds love to hop out on the reeds to pull seeds from the purple pods.  I love to stand on Heron Hideout at sunrise, when the golden light is just perfect.  Today I saw Common Yellowthroats, Palm Warblers, and this Swamp Sparrow on those reeds.  I like how the purple contrasts with the green in the image below. The skies were filled with Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks.  They are some of my favorite birds at the reserve, and their calls are such […]

Beyond the Backyard

Skies Full of American White Pelicans at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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The skies of the Circle B Bar Reserve were covered in American White Pelicans this morning.  We arrived at sunrise and stayed till about 11:30.  During that whole time, wave after wave of pelicans flew in.  They must be powered by Energizer…they just keep coming, and coming, and coming! This morning we walked up Heron Hideout, Marsh Rabbit Run, Wading Bird Way, then doubled back and took the Shady Oak trail out to the lake.  I shot several panoramas, but I am being lazy and waiting for “Merge to Panorama in Photoshop” to create the panoramas.  Lightroom + Photoshop CS5 is much more efficient than Lightroom + Photoshop Elements. :) The marshes were full of roosting birds at sunrise.  We moved quickly to the south end of Heron Hideout (beyond Marsh Rabbit Run) to see hundreds of Wood Storks and Sandhill Cranes sleeping in a group.  They almost reminded me of the pelicans — there were that many birds! There’s one tree in particular that I enjoy photographing.  It’s often covered in birds.  I call it my “Circle B Christmas Tree” — the birds remind me of ornaments on a Christmas tree. As we headed up Marsh Rabbit Run, I […]