A few of the wintering ducks at Possum Branch Preserve, a lesser scaup and a horned grebe. They were both far out in the channel that runs along the preserve.
A moorhen posing on a tree branch in the pond. Seems a little dangerous standing up there with all of the hawks and eagles that could come by.
The robins were still hanging around in early February. They were picking off the few remaining mulberries left on the tree.
At least two sora rails were spending the winter in the pond.
This is the 2nd winter I’ve seen a Virginia rail here. He’s pretty skittish and rarely comes out from the reeds. After standing there for a while, he finally came out for a few minutes before running back into hiding. He’s much prettier than the sora rail.
The Sora rail was the talk of the reserve back in early April. I’ve only seen a few rails and they were all at Circle B Bar Reserve. This was a rare sighting for this area so a handful of people were coming to the park to find him. There were actually 3 there and they stayed for a few weeks. They stayed close to the reeds and were digging around in mud looking for food. Since then we’ve had some rain so the ponds are filled back up. Maybe that’s why they eventually left.
The Virginia rail on the left was a nice surprise. I had heard one was there but didn’t see it. I saw the sora on the right far out in the marsh heading towards the reeds and snapped a shot of him and when I cropped this up I realized the Virginia rail was behind him.
Lately there’s been a glossy ibis hanging around the pond. This is another bird that I usually only see in central Florida so it was weird to see him here.
My first gadwall. I haven’t even heard of them being in the Tampa bay area before. I didn’t know they were at Circle B Bar Reserve until I was standing on the trail thinking that these ducks didn’t quite look like mallards. I asked another birder standing by that I knew was an expert birder and he told me what they were. It was a cloudy morning and if the sun had been out I would have only gotten a blob taking this right into the sun. The male is in front, female in back.
A male ring neck duck was swimming in between the gadwall couple.
There was a little confrontation over space between the two males.
Two males and a female swimming together.
They are pretty with all of the different beige color patterns.
Ring neck ducks trying to rule the pond.
The usual black bellied whistlers.
Whistler duck butts. Even their bottoms are cute.
Busy preening before a nap.
Standing at attention.
The marshes were full of them.
A sora rail sighting. They aren’t very common at the park. This one was pretty far out in the marsh so this is heavily cropped.
These were taken right after Christmas. After a week of sun and warm weather, I finally had a chance to head out to Circle B Bar Reserve and a dark blanket of clouds stayed over the park the entire 4 hours I was there. At least it was not hot out and I was excited to add a new duck to my list. I keep hearing there are bufflehead duck sightings but I can’t seem to find them anywhere. I’ll keep looking.
As I walked around the small lake, I saw nothing unusual. A cormorant swimming by.
A female anhinga posed for me with her funny face. Anhingas are common at this lake. They sit on the boardwalk rail and don’t even move when someone jogs by.
The grackle was picking the fuzz off of the cattails.
It was getting late, I had about half an hour before I lost the light. I was beginning to think I wouldn’t see the Sora rail that had been spotted here a week earlier. I was on the last section of the lake when I saw something moving in the reeds along the edge.
I found him! My first sora rail. Soras aren’t that rare here but I keep missing them at the parks in the area. I finally found one and was able to get a shot. It was after 7pm at this point so I snapped a couple of pictures and then headed back to my car.
He was busy feeding. There were two soras there but they stayed pretty far apart. They camouflage into the reeds pretty well so I was excited that I found him. This park is only 5 minutes from my office. There usually isn’t too much to see because there are so many joggers and dog walkers after work but it’s a nice way to spend an hour and wait for traffic to ease up.
Of course, I had to take a picture of the local pond gator. He was a tiny one.
Last shot before getting in my car and heading home.