Beyond the Backyard

You Know it’s Springtime at Circle B Bar Reserve if…

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You know it’s springtime at Circle B Bar Reserve if you see the following: Trees are getting their leaves back Sandhill Cranes start sitting on nests! Baby eagles peek out to say hello People flock to the marsh to enjoy the warm weather The ducks head back home — see you next year! The birds start sporting their breeding colors Earlier sunrises! Male cardinals sing for their “wives! wives! wives!” Turtles come out to sun themselves, relieved that the cold winter winds have passed Marsh rabbits and otters frolic along the trails Dyeyo and I hiked the following trails today: Heron Hideout, Marsh Rabbit Run, Wading Bird Way, and the Eagle’s Roost. We did not see the baby eagle — both parents were sitting near the nest, but the baby must have been asleep. But we did see two White-Crowned Sparrows, an unusally obliging Gray Catbird, and an American Bittern that posed for all to photograph! The sunrise this morning was at 7:06am. People ask me how I can get up so early every weekend. But it’s easy — the world is magical at dawn. A huge flock of Red-Winged Blackbirds can usually be found off Heron Hideout in the […]

Beyond the Backyard

My First Orange-Crowned Warbler at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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It was an incredibly foggy morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve. I could barely make out the car in front of me as I drove in. But it turned out to be a great day for little birds. We saw a ton of warblers: Orange-Crowned, Black-and-White, Palm, Prairie, Yellow-Throated, Yellow-Rumped, Common Yellowthroat, and several Ruby-Crowned Kinglets. Overall I saw over 50 species, not bad for a foggy day!! Dyeyo and I arrived before sunrise, as usual, but it was clear that the fog was not going to lift quickly for pictures. So we took a side trip up to the Lost Bridge Trail, which we haven’t walked in a long time. We were curious to see which birds were there at this time of year, and if it would be a good place to take one of our Saturday photo hikes. Thirteen Wild Turkeys, two baby hogs, and the sounds of American Goldfinches were the main highlights. I don’t think the birds had woken up yet — it was still really dark from the fog. We then took the Alligator Alley trail down to the lake. As we passed the nature center eagle nest, Dyeyo joked that we should […]

Beyond the Backyard

Breezy Morning at Oakland Nature Preserve

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We decided to postpone our usual Circle B Bar Reserve trip for a day, since the weather forecast called for a cloudy day with lots of wind. But when I woke up this morning, it was surprisingly sunny, and just a little breezy. So Rich and I headed to Oakland Nature Preserve to see if the feeders were out for Painted Buntings this year. (Nope.) Oakland Nature Preserve used to be one of our favorite birding locations. Then they started constructing a new nature center, which kept some of the birds away. They also stopped putting out the feeders that attracted the Painted Buntings in the winter. So we’ve only been there a handful of times in the last year or two. I was hoping that the activity would have started to pick up again, but it was a pretty quiet morning. We heard American Goldfinches but never saw one. Eastern Phoebes and Gray Catbirds made themselves heard but never let themselves be seen. Blue-Gray Gnatcatchers mocked us from high in the treetops. We did see a small flock of warblers, and I believe we were hearing a couple of Black and White Warblers, although I never saw them. These […]

Beyond the Backyard

Winter Birding at Callaway Gardens

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We went to Callaway Gardens to see the Fantasy in Lights display, but during the day, we had a great time walking around the gardens. There are so many birds at Callaway! The Callaway Birds of Prey show is fun. They pick three of about ten of their birds to display during each show, and they let the birds fly (sometimes right over the spectators’ heads!). It’s interesting to hear about the different birds. The chapel looked pretty surrounded in the fall colored leaves. We were surprised to stick see colored leaves on the trees. Being Floridians, it doesn’t take much color on trees to get us excited! They had also decorated the Sibley Horticultural Center for Christmas. Some of the garden-inspired decorations were very clever.