Beyond the Backyard

Signs of Spring at the Viera Wetlands

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Last weekend I spent a morning at the Viera Wetlands.  It was a cloudy morning, with sunshine in spurts, and I was just happy to be outside.  The Great Blue Herons chicks are growing up quickly, as I wrote about last week.  There were also many other signs of springtime around the wetlands.  Sometimes the common birds are the most fun to phtoograph… I was down on the edge of the berm photographing the juvenile Great Blue Herons when this Red-Winged Blackbird hopped onto the trail.  Since I was so much lower than he was, I got a birds-eye angle on him without having to get down on my knees!  I love how his wing shines with his bright red and yellow patch.  The green grasses shine in the soft morning light. I went to Viera in hopes of photographing the babies on this nest, and I was disappointed to find that the nest no longer was there.  However, there were other juvenile Anhingas on other palms, just farther away than “my” nest.  One palm housed two juveniles, and another housed three, or so I thought.  Both families were entertaining and I enjoyed watching their antics.  There was much begging […]

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

Finally! I Photographed a Painted Bunting at the Circle B Bar Reserve!

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I had a nice walk this morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve. It’s always great to go there to unwind after a long week. This morning I hiked the Alligator Alley trail in search of small birds, then I walked up Marsh Rabbit Run and up Wading Bird Way around to the Eagle Roost trail, where I observed the eagle’s nest. So the big question of the day…is there one baby in that nest or are there two? I didn’t quite get to the lake before sunrise. The sun was already peaking up over the trees as I approached the lake. I stopped and took a bracketed set of panorama exposures. When I got home, I combined the bracketed exposures using HDR, then stitched each image together into a panorama. Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve! I walked slowly along the Alligator Alley trail, stopping often to observe the little birds flitting from tree to tree. I was very happy to quickly come across another Orange-Crowned Warbler. It was just two weeks ago that I saw this bird for the first time, and it’s still exciting to find one! The warblers are starting to get their spring colors. […]

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

Frosty Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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It was probably not a good morning to be a bird at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  The temperature was around 28 when I arrived at 7:30 in the morning.  The ground was covered in frost.  Skies normally covered in American White Pelicans were empty.  But it was pretty in an eerie way, and by mid-morning, the frost was gone and the birds were back. I enjoyed experimenting with HDR shots this morning.  It was very foggy, and at times you could not even see the horizon for the fog.  I knew that I either needed to pull out the split neutral density filter for some pictures, or use HDR.  HDR was more fun. :) The frost was thick on the vegetation on both sides of the trail.  It was sad and pretty all at the same time.  Gone are the gorgeous yellow flowers that covered the marshes a month ago!  Many of the pools along Heron Hideout have dried up because of our lack of rain.  The black mud stands out against the rest of the colors of the marsh. Very few birds were in the water when I arrived.  Maybe the birdbrains are a little smarter than I […]