Beyond the Backyard

Enjoying the Sunshine

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On the day that Michael and I hiked out Shiloh Marsh Road to photograph the Scissor-Tailed Flycatcher, we came across this Turkey Vulture sunning himself. He seemed to be enjoying the sun very much. He didn’t want to move! We had to pass him on the trail, and he would watch us dubiously, then move just a little way up the trail. Silly bird. Why are the pretty birds so skittish and the ugly birds all lazy? :)

Beyond the Backyard

Tiny Stilts and Willets at Merritt Island NWR

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This morning I was off to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (MINWR) in search of baby Black-Necked Stilts.  I’d seen a very photographable nest there last weekend, and I was hoping to see chicks there today.  At first I was disappointed – the nest was deserted. But I drove around some more and found some little stilts.  Aren’t they cute? I found these guys on East Gator Creek.  First I located their parents by listening – the stilts are very loud when they are in protective mode.  After I heard two adults fussing in a particular area, I watched for the chicks.  I found these three in a little pond by the mud flats.  They stood by calmly as their parents tried to chase off all other birds—and given then number of Roseate Spoonbill fly-bys, this was no easy task.  Those poor parents must be hoarse by the end of the day! I was also lucky to find a Willet with her young chick.  I’d never seen a baby Willet before.  These guys were just running along one of the mud flats on East Gator Creek.  They ran so fast that I only had a few seconds to capture some […]

Beyond the Backyard

Chased by an Otter at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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I’ve been called the Birdie Paparazzi. But today I was the one being followed! An otter came bounding up the path after me at least twice. He was cute! This morning I decided to hike Alligator Alley, since it was foggy and I felt like taking sunrise pictures. It’s also been a while since I’ve walked that way and I wanted to see what birds are around these days. The sunrise was gorgeous. I got to the dock just after the sun came over the horizon. I was told that if I’d been there half an hour earlier, I would have seen thousands of birds taking off in the early morning glow. I’ll have to remember that! I spent about an hour on the dock, photographing the birds flying by as the sun came up. The light was very bright and the birds were quite backlit. One of these days I’ll have to head to the lake at sunset. A lone Brown Pelican was out fishing for his breakfast. I caught him diving for fish a couple of times. He was pretty stubborn and always seemed to swim with his head in the shade instead of the sun… But bright […]

Beyond the Backyard

Skies Filled with Birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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I found the birds! Last Monday I was disappointed to visit the Circle B Bar Reserve and find practically no birds in the skies. Today was quite the opposite! The morning was cool and bright — a nice change from yesterday’s cloudy gloom! I walked out on Heron Hideout and immediately saw my first flock of American Robins for the season. (I thought I heard them a few weeks ago, but I never saw them to confirm.) I also heard American Goldfinches all over the marsh today, and saw a couple pass over me in flight. They are my favorite wintertime bird. :) I hiked Heron Hideout, Marsh Rabbit Run, and portions of Wading Bird Way this morning. At the intersection of Heron Hideout and Marsh Rabbit Run, I saw this Black-Bellied Whistling Duck. It intrigued me because it was very close to the path, which is a bit unusual. He called to other ducks who were farther out into the marsh. Each time he called, he got many many whistles in response. It was fun to watch. The Wood Storks were flying overhead all morning. They roost in the trees behind Marsh Rabbit Run overnight, then fly out to […]