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

First of Season Warblers at CBBR!

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How are kitten care and warbler photography alike? Neither subject will stay still! This morning I enjoyed an off-Friday sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I saw my first warblers of the season!  Two Yellow Warblers and one Prairie Warbler spent a pleasant 15 minutes posing for me in the top of a tree on the Marsh Rabbit Run trail.  I know shorebird migration has been underway for about a month now, but I’ve always considered the first warblers to be the sign of fall migration. :) I arrived at Circle B just before sunrise.  It had rained there overnight, and there were large puddles on several trails.  it was great to see that the culverts on the Heron Hideout trail were all flowing with water again.  Hopefully it will keep raining, to get the water levels up before the migrant ducks arrive! While I waited for the light to be bright enough for bird photography, I experimented some with landscape HDR and my wide-angle lens.  The sun was pretty as it peeked over the horizon and shone through the clouds.  The marsh is quite pretty at this time of year, with all the trees covered in green.  But […]

Beyond the Backyard

The Coots have Returned to the Circle B Bar Reserve

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Things are certainly picking up at the Circle B Bar Reserve. Besides seeing the first American Coots of the season, this morning we saw a juvenile Bald Eagle doing some nice close fly-bys, three Roseate Spoonbills, and plenty of Gray Catbirds and Eastern Phoebes. Last night when we left at sunset, we said good night to the Sand Hill Cranes, who were already on one leg and starting to fall asleep. Sure enough, they were still there this morning at sunrise. We suspect this is the family with “Dyeyo’s Baby“, although now it’s hard to distinguish the juvenile from the adults. (His red and white markings on his head are not quite as bright as his parents’…) This morning the cranes diverted us by doing a little dance in the middle of the marsh, causing the White and Glossy Ibises also feeding there to have to hop out of the way. One crane in particular seemed to take particular glee in splashing other birds…and in this picture, he reminds me of a ballet dancer…hop, hop, arabesque… Then somebody called out “Spoonbills” and suddenly all photographer attention was focused on two pink birds flying high overhead. They landed in the flock […]

Beyond the Backyard

The Whistler Flight School is pleased to announce the opening of Marsh Rabbit Run!!

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Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve is magical. Maybe because two mornings are never alike. This morning, we were hiking on Heron Hideout when suddenly about twenty Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks took to the air around us. Calling back and forth to each other with their sweet distinctive whistle, the birds flew round and round over our heads. There were a few orange-beaked adults, but most of the crowd were juvenile birds with black bills. Dyeyo and I looked at each other, laughed, and decided that we had just witnessed a flying lesson! Nearby, a group of about ten babies whistled and cheered them on. Were they saying “good flight, big brother!” or maybe “Mama, mama, when can we do that!?” And so concluded a morning’s flying lesson at the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck Flight School! The light changes so quickly at sunrise. This sunrise picture was taken just 10 minutes or so after the one above. The Marsh Rabbit Run trail is now open!! We were excited to see that the alligators have cleared out of our favorite birding trail. Now the photographers can enjoy it again. :) Three Wood Ducks flew by just as we reached the Marsh Rabbit […]

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.