Backyard photography

Bow Tie is Back!

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Bow Tie

Our neighborhood Yellow-throated Warbler is back!  We call him Bow Tie because his black and white colors remind me of a tuxedo, and his bright yellow tummy is his bow tie.  We’ve seen him for the past couple of winters.  He’s one of my regular suet customers, although my first shot of him this year was on my mixed seed feeder.  He comes in and eats when the Cardinals and House Finches take a break from the food.  Poor little Bow Tie always gets shoved away when the bigger birds are around. I’m pretty sure he’s the same bird from year to year.  He’s not banded, so I can’t know for sure, but what other bird does this on my window every morning? :) The cats love it when Bow Tie is around.  They hear him tapping and go running to see him at the window. We’ve had fewer birds than usual this winter.  Previously we’d get huge flocks of Red-winged Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds.  This year we haven’t seen the first flock.  Occasionally I’ll see one or two Red-wings.  The yard is surprisingly quiet.  The birds we see the most are the Mourning Doves.  They love my new feeder […]

Backyard photography

My Backyard Winter Wonderland

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I’ve had lots of time to enjoy the birds in my own backyard lately.  It’s a backyard winter wonderland! All the winter migrants are here and the backyard is full of activity.  It’s great!  This weekend I had all these different kinds of birds: American Goldfinch Pine Siskin Painted Bunting Eastern Phoebe American Robin Cedar Waxwing Blue-gray Gnatcatcher Palm Warbler House Finch Northern Cardinal Yellow-throated Warbler Boat-tailed Grackle Red-winged Blackbird Sandhill Crane White Ibis Mourning Dove Common Ground Dove Did you notice that I said Pine Siskin?  That’s right, I’m pretty sure we had a couple of Pine Siskins mixed in with our flock of American Goldfinches.  They are colored a little bit like female House Finches, but smaller, and with pinkish beaks.  I noticed the difference in their calls and I ran to get the binoculars.  Now I just have to get a picture! Our Painted Buntings are such fun visitors.  We have at least two males and three greenies this year.  I often see two males feeding together, so I suspect we actually have more lurking in the bushes.  They love my tall viburnum bushes that form a “green fence” around the backyard.  I see them and hear […]

Backyard photography

*UPDATED* Our Yard Migrants are Leaving :(

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A few weeks ago, I took this picture of Bow Tie (our favorite little Yellow-throated Warbler) feasting on suet in our front yard.  Several times a day he would stop by, and he always attracted our attention with his happy calls (and our cats’ attention with his pecks at the window!)  But his place seems to have been taken over by the mockingbird, who is getting more territorial as nesting season begins.  I haven’t seen American Goldfinches or Painted Buntings in our backyard in several nights.  The huge flocks of Cedar Waxwings that were swarming around the neighborhood holly trees are nowhere to be heard.  The birds are leaving to head back north…now how many months is it until the Palm Warblers come back in October? *UPDATE: Maybe the birds are sticking around after all! We had three American Goldfinches on the niger feeder this morning. Last night we observed up to three male and five “greenie” Painted Buntings. A small flock of Cedar Waxwings just flew overhead. So maybe we get to enjoy them for a little longer yet. :)

Backyard photography

Bow Tie Gives Thanks

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Our little Yellow-Throated Warbler, known by family and friends as “Bow Tie,” appreciated my recent efforts to clean and refill bird feeders.  He likes the suet that hangs near our living room window, too.  Our cats love it when he comes and taps on the window.

Backyard photography

Bow Tie is Back!!

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We were excited to see Bow Tie, our neighborhood Yellow-Throated Warbler, high in a palm tree on Saturday. Each winter he comes and hangs out at our feeders. His bright yellow stomach is so cheerful. I call him Bow Tie because his yellow colors contrast with his black-and-white wing feathers, which remind me of a guy’s suit. All that’s missing is his bow tie! Why are most first-of-fall pictures really bad? :)

Beyond the Backyard

Early Migrants at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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You know that the hot summer is coming to a close at the Circle B Bar Reserve when you start seeing the first Pied-Billed Grebes on the Wading Bird Way trail.  Although grebes are year-round residents in Polk, I don’t seem to see them until the very end of summer.  The same goes for the Caspian Terns.  So it was exciting to see both yesterday at the reserve.  The winter migrants are coming!! The Common Moorhens aren’t migrants, but they are fun to photograph.  There was a family that I watched for about 15 minutes.  There were two juveniles and two parents, but one parent was a little way away.  When the juveniles started to carry on, the parent came swimming toward them, fussing.  I liked how the adult’s reflection showed so nicely in the water, and I tried to hit the shutter when the bird’s mouth was open in mid-fuss.  I had two successful attempts, and this was my favorite: The juveniles continued to fuss, splashing around and carrying on.  As one ran towards me on top of the water, I managed to hit the shutter button and almost achieve good focus on his head!  It was close enough… […]

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

Happy Hallo-wren at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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Apparently the “Water, Wings, and Wild Things” event yesterday spooked a lot of the birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve…but the wrens stuck around and celebrated Halloween with us! The marshes were fairly quiet this morning, but there were plenty of little bids for patient photographers… We started off walking to the far end of Heron Hideout, where it turns into the Eagle Roost trail. Dyeyo had good luck there yesterday. We kept an eye out for the baby Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks that have been reported on Flickr, but we didn’t see them. I turned around and saw this Tricolored Heron fishing at one of the culverts. He didn’t mind when I snapped his picture. Hundreds of Anhingas and Double-Crested Cormorants flew overhead as they left their night roosting trees and took over off the marsh. Dyeyo and I had fun practicing our flight photography. This was my best shot: This Eastern Phoebe repeatedly called “Phoebe! Phoebe!” and perched on a nicely lit branch. We walked down Marsh Rabbit Run in search of the baby whistling ducks. About a third of the way down the trail we came across one of the dead trees that serves as a great […]

Backyard photography

Bow Tie around the Neighborhood

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Our neighborhood Yellow-Throated Warbler, affectionately called Bow Tie, isn’t appearing at our feeders regularly yet. But we see him periodically in the treetops around the neighborhood. As Mum-mum says, he’s being a “real bird,” and we likely won’t see him at the feeders while the insect population is plentiful. (With all the midge flies around Stoneybrook West, we need as many insect-eating birds as we can get!!)

Backyard photography

Bow Tie is Back!

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We saw Bow Tie last week, and I’ve heard him several times since, but today was the first day he posed for the camera. He was in the oak trees at the entrance to Fox Hunt. Since the original image was pretty dark (it was after sunset), I lightened it in Photoshop using Shadows/Highlights, Levels, and Curves.

Beyond the Backyard

Circle B Migrants

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I felt like playing with Photoshop today, so I made another warbler and migrant bird collage. These little birds are usually high in the oak canopies, and it’s hard to get great pictures of them. They also hop around really fast. You come home with a stiff neck and then squint at your pictures, asking “is there really a bird in there?” So this is combination of a bunch of pictures from the last month, severely cropped. I think I have them all identified correctly, but they are the “confusing fall warblers”, so please tell me if you notice a mistake. Click on the image above for a higher-resolution version.

Backyard photography

Yellow-throated Warbler

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Our resident yellow-throated warbler, nicknamed Bow Tie, has been visiting almost every day.  He likes to hang out by Carla’s back window, and then he gets a snack from our front tray feeder. Note: We stopped seeing Bow Tie shortly after this post.  So I think he leaves to go back North around mid-March.  Come back next year, little guy!