The Trap

“Most human beings have an almost infinite capacity for taking things for granted.” ~Aldous Huxley

 

I turned the pillow over again. Have I been in bed for an hour? Two? Is the room becoming a bit brighter? If I go through the woods first, I might find some migrant warblers. But it will be too dark under the canopy for good photographs. The trail by the windmill was where I saw that bobcat last year, but lately one has been reported by the lake shore. The open marsh is where the early action will probably be best. It seems it always takes me forever to get there, though, because there’s so much to see along the way. A Sora is a good possibility on that path, as well as an American Bittern. Not to mention Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks with babies. The Barred Owl should be along the canal and nests are being built in that area by eagles and herons. It’s cool enough maybe the mosquitoes won’t be horrible. I turned the pillow over one more time.

The drive to Circle B Bar Reserve is less than 30 minutes. Long enough to finish a cup of coffee. Stumbling out of the truck in the almost-darkness of pre-dawn, even MY poor hearing is assaulted by the shrieks of Limpkins announcing the new day. (Limpkin Call) As I stood on the asphalt of the parking lot, a Barred Owl added a bit of tenor to the soprano of the Limpkins. The clear whistle of a Northern Cardinal reminded the world it’s Spring! Shuffling along the path to the marsh I marveled at the beauty of an almost full moon, still bright even as the sun approached the horizon behind me. Sandhill Cranes trumpeted in the distance. Ouch! Mosquitoes. Not horrible, but awake. And hungry. I am easily impressed by Nature and this place is pretty special. Birds, mammals, reptiles, amphibians, insects, flora – it’s all here in abundance.

Three hours later I came through the front door and after the mushy stuff (that’s guy talk for “romantic greeting involving hugging and kissing”), Gini asked: “So how was the birding?” A pause. “The dragonflies are really showing up now with the warmer weather.” Uh-oh. “Not many birds today?” She doesn’t miss much. “It was good. There seemed to be a lot of activity but I could only come up with 48 species.”

I know. I feel so ashamed.

It’s difficult to visit the Circle B and not have tallied over 50 species, even if you’re only having a picnic. With one eye closed. But that’s not why I felt guilty. I recently chatted with a birder visiting Florida from one of our far northwestern states. His highest single day list was 21 species. Most trips result in single digits. Of course, he was thrilled to be enjoying our birding paradise, but you knew he simply loved birding. As do we all. I have no problem at all being similarly thrilled with each trip, no matter how many birds I “list”. If I should fall into the trap of becoming complacent and bemoaning that I saw “only” 48 species within a couple of hours – I’ll recall that young birder who becomes ecstatic with a dozen!

Highlights of the morning’s stroll about the marsh include: a young Black-crowned Night Heron, a Bald Eagle guarding a nest, a curious Swamp Sparrow who followed me along the trail, a sun-lit Purple Galllinule, the Double-crested Cormorant with the turquoise eyes and a hungry armadillo oblivious to my presence.

 

The Circle B Bar Reserve is on the north shore of Lake Hancock which in some winters hosts up to 4,000 American White Pelicans. This pair was checking out some of the open water areas within the marsh.

American White Pelican

American White Pelican

 

Blue-winged Teal don’t mind including a Common Gallinule in their breakfast club. They do have a little different feeding style than the Gallinule.

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal, Common Gallinule

Blue-winged Teal, Common Gallinule

 

Blue-winged Teal

Blue-winged Teal

 

When it’s time to eat, the Tricolored and Little Blue Herons are all serious business.

Tricolored Heron

Tricolored Heron

Little Blue Heron

Little Blue Heron

 

This Swamp Sparrow couldn’t figure out what I was and kept flitting in and out of low shrubs along the path almost right beside me. He finally got bored and flew back to where I first saw him.

Swamp Sparrow

Swamp Sparrow

 

I keep trying to find a better word than “handsome” to describe the Black-bellied Whistling-Duck, but no luck so far.

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

Black-bellied Whistling-Duck

 

When viewed in this sitting position, one might never suspect how long the Green Heron’s neck can stretch!

Green Heron

Green Heron

 

The morning sun really enhanced the vibrant colors of the Purple Gallinule. He may have been checking himself out in the reflection.

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule

 

An immature Black-crowned Night Heron was busy stalking a frog and I could only get a partial view of her. She’ll soon become the more familiar black and gray color of an adult.

Black-crowned Night Heron

Black-crowned Night Heron

 

With a prehistoric look, settlers used to call the Wood Stork “Old Flinthead” due to the gray, stone-like appearance of his head.

Wood Stork

Wood Stork

 

(Obligatory alligator image required by state tourism board.) Yes, this American Alligator is sound asleep so you can pet him with no worries. Pay no attention to the smile on his face.

American Alligator

American Alligator

 

At least two pairs of Bald Eagles are nesting within the reserve. This adult was vigorously driving away any bird flying too close to his nest. A pretty good sign there are eggs or young birds in the nest.

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

 

I waited patiently for this Blue-headed Vireo to turn around for a pleasant portrait. Never happened. Sigh. Well, we need to be able to identify birds from the rear, too, don’t we?

Blue-headed Vireo

Blue-headed Vireo

 

The Double-crested Cormorant may not be the first bird one thinks of as “beautiful”, but those turquoise eyes are stunning! This one was perched in a red maple tree and gave me one chance for a quick shot.

Double-crested Cormorant

Double-crested Cormorant

 

A couple of migrants put in an appearance just before I returned to the parking lot. The Black-and-White Warbler usually feeds like a nuthatch, running down a tree trunk or walking along the underside of a branch. A Pine Warbler can vary from a dull yellow-green to bright yellow and can be distinguished by its face pattern, broken eye-ring, wing bars and white belly and undertail coverts.

Black and White Warbler

Black and White Warbler

Pine Warbler

Pine Warbler

 

Florida’s Nine-banded Armadillo has very poor eyesight but an extremely keen sense of smell. They’re often seen standing on their hind legs sniffing the air. Their powerful claws can dig a substantial hole in short order. This one heard the camera shutter click, gave me a quick glance and returned to his search for brunch. Ho-hum. Paparazzi.

Nine-banded Armadillo

Nine-banded Armadillo

 

It was a great day in a wonderful location. I am truly thankful for having been able to identify 48 species of birds within a couple of hours. Please don’t fall into the trap of taking whatever you have for granted!

 

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

 

Additional Information

Circle B Bar Reserve

See more birds at:   Paying Ready Attention   (Check out Wild Bird Wednesday.)

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 28 Comments

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28 thoughts on “The Trap

  1. I don’t know how you manage to get so many great photos in that short window of time. The Tri-colored Heron is a real beauty.

  2. Hi Wally. I am laughing when ” goofy”. Now Means handsome! You two are so wonderful love birds and that is amazing. Now back to the birds. You are so fortunate to be 39 minutes away from Circle B and basically having all these fantastic birds and other critters on your door step. I would be pleased with 48 species. Great set of birds – although I would really like to see an armadillo, I know they are common with you there. I thinks the name. old Flinthead is a better name for the Wood Stork. I love the super green of the Corormont’s eye. The image of the elegant and regal Bald Eagle is stunning. I usual I have greatly enjoyed your post. Thanks Wally.

    • I agree with you, Margaret, about Old Flinthead being a better name and think about it every time I look in the mirror. — 🙂

      The Circle B is a very special spot and it’s tempting to go there every day since it’s so close, but then we might miss all the other beautiful spots around us! I know, what a dilemma! We’ll just keep doing the best we can.

      We hope your upcoming week is full of pleasant things.

  3. Great set of birds – although I would really like to see an armadillo!

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

  4. Beautiful photos! Except the wood stork. They just weren’t blessed with good looks were they?

    • Easy now! Every time I see a Wood Stork I feel like I’m looking in a mirror!

      🙂

      Thank you so much for visiting with us!

  5. What a treat to enjoy with my coffee on this rainy panhandle Florida morning. Now I think I really “get” what the phrase “embarrassment of riches” means. (Only 48 species . . . )

    The cormorant’s eyes are amazing — looks like an ad from Tiffany’s for some super-bling diamond-encrusted turquoise ring.

    Can’t wait to go birding with you. We’re paddling hard as we can to move in your direction.

  6. You are spoilt for choice in that environment! All great photos but for sheer beauty I would take that Purple Gallinule and the reflection – and for a majestic pose that Eagle! I hope you get to see a baby head poking out of the nest sometime!

    • Thank you, Mick! You are so right about being spoilt! That particular eagle and his mate already have an almost-ready-to-fledge eagle on their hands (wings?). Eagles here begin nesting as early as October and most eaglets are ready for flight within three months of hatching and can be own their own in another month. So our skies are full of young eagles right now all across the state.

      I certainly enjoyed seeing your Beach Stone-curlew!

      Have a great weekend!

  7. You’re right of course Wally. There’s nothing like planning a morning’s birding to guarantee a sleepless night of daydreaming, boundless anticipation but never knowing for sure what might happen.

    Don’t be worried by the miserly 48 Species my friend, just have a rethink about the mushy stuff and Man Up. And yes, it’s the quality of the birding which counts, not the quantity. So good luck to that Northern Birder for he is me and 21 species par for the course in the cool of the Northern Hemisphere.

    Thanks for the advice by the way, I’ll come and pet an alligator alongside you, no problem. I’ll wear my best Nikes.

    I enjoyed your pictures also, Old Flinthead a new found favourite. Can’t think why.

    • I long ago resolved that any day outside is a good day, so I never worry about how many birds are counted. As far as the mushy stuff, no thought involved there, it’s a natural reflex. As you pet that alligator, I’ll generously volunteer to take your photograph to show your friends and family (that’s why telephoto lenses were invented). By the way, an interesting bit of trivia – the alligator is capable of short sprints of up to 30 miles per hour. Hope your best Nikes are really good.

      It’s another weekend already! All the best to you and yours, Phil!

  8. only 48. amazing! 🙂 my word for bbwd is ‘goofy!’ 🙂 i played the limpkin call and woke up 2 of my 4 sleeping dogs. 🙂 loved all your shots.

  9. Thanks for your comment on my Crested tit Wally, how sweet 🙂
    Hot in Florida? Lucky you, I love hot weather. I might still get warm days in Aussie land in a couple of days!!!
    Kind regards to the two of you!

    • Enjoy your trip to Australia, Noushka! Take lots of bird pictures!

      (For anyone interested in superb, high-quality photographs of birds and nature, visit Noushka’s very special blog: . You’ll be very glad you found it.)

  10. Oh my!
    I haven’t seen an armadillo since I was last in Nicaragua, fantastic ‘catch’!!
    Brilliant photos of the herons & Co, they are so sharp!
    Wonderful post Wally, as usual 🙂
    Wish I could see half of what you’ve got in Florida!!
    Keep well 🙂

    • Merci, Noushka! We will be happy to send you as many armadillos as you like! They are very common here.
      We really appreciate your kind remarks!

      Please have a wonderful weekend!

  11. I love that Blue-headed Vireo shot! I’m glad I’m not the only one that sees birds that way.

  12. How wonderful to have such a fabulous variety of birds and other wildlife withing 30 minutes of your home, Wally – even if you do get disappointing days with only 48 species!!! So pleased to see that you managed to put that figure into perspective.

    Whilst your bird images are amazing, it’s the Armadillo that does it for me. Cute doesn’t begin to cover it!

    A lovely post!

    Thanks and best wishes to you both – – – Richard

    • Yes, Richard, we are definitely spoiled in the bird diversity department! Armadillos are one more thing I’m afraid I take for granted as they are quite common here. I’ll try to include more images of COTB (Critters Other Than Birds) in future posts.

      Hope you have a wonderful weekend!

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