Beyond the Backyard

Hoodies at the Circle B Bar Reserve!

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Dyeyo and I were at the Circle B Bar Reserve at dawn this morning. It was a bit chilly at first, but it felt so great to be outside! The fog obscured the sunrise a bit, which turned out to be good, since I got this picture as a result: We hiked the Heron Hideout trail, then took Marsh Rabbit Run out to Wading Bird Way. There were tons of people there, most carrying fancy cameras with white lenses. It’s always fun to catch up on the latest nature happenings, and luckily, the birds at Circle B don’t seem to mind the crowds! I was also excited to see that the rains last week have left some water in the dried-up ponds on Heron Hideout. I think we’re supposed to get more rain next week, which will be a really good thing for the reserve and birds (and for the photographers…) Somebody whispered to us that there were Hooded Mergansers on the southern portion of Heron Hideout. We’ve never seen Hoodies at Circle B before, so we were excited to see this pair of females diving along parallel to the trail, not too far out. The water was still enough […]

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 […]

Beyond the Backyard

Diving Hoodies at Viera Wetlands

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Dyeyo and I drove over to Viera Wetlands in search of the Ross’s Goose that has been reported there on the BirdBrainz list serve.   We didn’t see the goose, but we did see a group of happy, diving Hooded Mergansers.  It was the first time either of us had seen a female Hoodie (we don’t typically see mergansers at the Circle B Bar Reserve where we normally bird.) We got to Viera and decided to drive around the perimeter once to locate the birds.  Except we saw so many birds that the “first lap” took more than half our morning! The first bird we spotted was a Wilson’s Snipe.  He was fishing in some short reeds and obligingly came out periodically to allow us to photograph him.  This was my first opportunity for full-frame snipe photos.  Usually the snipes are far away and I’m just happy to see them at all. We paused to take a duck inventory of the many American Coots, Pied-Billed Grebes, and Ring-Necked Ducks that covered the wetlands.  A Belted Kingfisher came screeching across the landscape and landed on a dead palm tree right in front of us.  With my new 500mm lens, he was practically […]

Beyond the Backyard

Snow Geese at Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge

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Dyeyo and I continued our bird-watching safari.  After we saw the Snow Bunting in Palm Coast, we went to Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Rufuge, where several Snow Geese have been reported there over the last week or so.  They were there!  They usually don’t come to Florida.  There was a mix of white morph adults and juveniles, and one juvenile blue morph. Dyeyo and I really liked Lake Woodruff.  It reminded us of the Circle B Bar Reserve.  We were there around mid-day, which is not prime bird activity time (or bird photography time!)  But there were hundreds of birds.  We’ve  never seen such large flocks of Glossy Ibis.  White Ibis, Lesser Yellowlegs, Least Sandpipers, Little Blue Herons, and Killdeer were all over the place. The first thing we saw when we walked into the refuge was a turtle.  (Happy Rich!)  He sat there sunning himself, with all four of his feet sticking out.  The turtle kind of rocked back and forth on his shell.  We saw several turtles over the course of the day. There were Killdeer all over the place at Lake Woodruff.  There were a couple of birds on the ground right in front of us as […]

Backyard photography

Rainy Day Walk around Stoneybrook West

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Another cold front passed through today, making our first day of Christmas break a very rainy one.  We were cooped up inside all morning, then finally I couldn’t take it anymore and we went for a walk between showers.  It was an unusually active walk (or maybe I’m already used to our Standard Time nighttime walks with no birds!)  We saw Bow Tie (our neighborhood Yellow-throated Warbler), an Eastern Phoebe, dozens of Palm Warblers and Yellow-Rumped Warblers, Mallards, Blue-Winged Teals, Lesser Scaups, a Ring-Billed Gull, a Female Canvasback, Snowy Egrets, several flocks of White Ibises, Pied-Billed Grebes, and my first Wilson’s Snipe at Stoneybrook West. The walk started out on a somber note with a sighting of a Cooper’s Hawk in our backyard.  On top of our big bird feeder!  But he left without causing too much birdie distress. There has been a small group of Lesser Scaups at the pond at the intersection of Tour Pointe and Town Commons.  Usually the birds are off on the other side of the pond, but today they were on my side and I could get some closer pictures (but with horrible overcast lighting).  The birds are very skittish; as soon as you […]