Beyond the Backyard

March Photo Walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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Today my dad and I led the final spring photo walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  We had a very foggy morning, and due to the closing of the Marsh Rabbit Run trail, we took the group on the Alligator Alley trail.  Between the fog and the reduced number of birds along Alligator Alley, I was worried that this would not be a very successful walk.  However, it turned out to be one of our most productive! We had a terrific group of people, from binocular birders to point-and-shooters to DSLR beginners.  Thanks to everybody who came and participated.  I hope you had as good of a time as we did. We headed down the Shady Oak trail down to Lake Hancock, where the Alligator Alley trail begins.  (Ironically, the trail named after alligators remains open as the gator nesting season begins.)  We had barely stepped on the trail, and my dad mentioned that we should watch for Black-Crowned Night Herons.  Two steps later, somebody pointed out a Black-Crowned Night Heron sitting down at the water’s edge!  How lucky was that?  I didn’t get a picture, but it was fun to share that somewhat elusive bird. I stayed back […]

Beyond the Backyard

February Photo Walk at Circle B Bar Reserve

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This morning my dad and I led another Photo Walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve. Circle B asked us to lead people around the preserve, showing them the best trails and places to find birds. Today we had about ten or so people meet us at 8:00 (remember, photographers have to be up early to catch the early birds getting their worms!) We walked the Heron Hideout and Marsh Rabbit Run trails, picking up a couple of extra people in our group as we went along. Then a few of the group continued with us along Wading Bird Way out to the Eagle Roost, where we observed the nest and caught a glimpse of the several-week-old eaglet. It was a pretty good morning and we saw some fun birds! I actually got the preserve right around sunrise, and I walked up Heron Hideout before meeting up with the group. A small flock of White-Crowned Sparrows posed most obligingly for me in the bushes along the trail. There were three or four juveniles. I didn’t see the adults today. Juvenile White-Crowned Sparrows have brown stripes on their heads instead of the bright black stripes of the adult. However, these little […]

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

All’s quiet at Oakland Nature Preserve

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Rich and I went to Oakland Nature Preserve for the first time in over a year.  We were disappointed because we saw very few birds. Last year, Oakland Nature Preserve stopped putting out feeders for the painted buntings.  It’s sad to go by the bird blind and not see any. :( The weather today was cloudy and kinda gross, which probably influenced the birds. Out on the board, we saw several osprey fishing, a couple of cardinals, a mockingbird, some grackles, and that was about it. Near the new nature building, there were a bunch of juvenile White-Crowned Sparrows feasting on the birdseed that was spread out on some old tree trunks.  So at least I took a couple of pictures. I got a few decent close-ups of the sparrows.  They are winter birds in our part of Florida.