High up in a tree, a young red shoulder hawk has the best view.
An osprey in a tree right over the trail was trying to eat his fish in peace but there was a steady stream of people walking by and he stopped to yell at each one.
Wood storks cruise by as I headed down the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve in early May.
A typical Florida shot of a great blue heron.
Herons were everywhere and constantly cruising by. The one in the second shot flew way to close. I almost cut him off.
Dragonflies were everywhere as it was getting warmer.
Another typical Florida shot.
This plant was growing all across the marsh. I think this is water hemlock.
Moss covered oak trees lead the way back to the car. This was my last trip to Circle B until the weather cools off. It’s way to hot to be out here without a breeze. Both of the main trails are closed for the summer due to the alligators nesting on the trails so I’ll wait until the fall when the winter birds start to arrive again.
Circle B Bar Reserve is a huge place. I’ve walked the trails for fours hours at time and not walked in the same place. The painted buntings have been seen around the nature center and out on the trails during the winter on a regular basis although I rarely see them there. I didn’t expect to see them on this trip in late March. I was walking around behind the nature center and was heading for my car and saw a flash of color go by. I realized it was a painted bunting.
This little guy was eating the seed in the tall grass behind the center.
I realized when I got home and cropped these up that it was one of the regulars that has been seen at the reserve this winter. People call him “Peg Leg” since he is missing his left foot. He’s perched on the stalk with his right foot and his left leg. That’s why you can only see one foot in the first picture.
He flew into a tree and then flew across the parking lot.
I walked over and found a female painted bunting. She really blended into the bushes and this was the only shot I got of her.
I found Peg Leg again as he continued to eat. The leg with the missing foot is quite clear in this shot.
He posed for me, probably thinking “Lady I’m trying to eat.” although I was pretty far away. It was a nice way to end this trip. This might have been a record year of painted bunting sightings for me.
Some of the critters along the trail at Circle B Bar Reserve in late March including that cute little mouse in the bottom pictures. The alligators were out everywhere and making their loud mating bellow. Even if you couldn’t see them you could hear them bellowing all over the marsh.
It was a quiet morning for flying critters.
The trails were covered in fog when I got to the preserve early in the morning. There wasn’t a lot of traffic on the trails and it was a nice quiet morning. I like being here in the fog for a change of season since it makes it seem like winter even if it was mild and muggy.
No, none of the above are the new bird. These are old birds I saw before I found the new one. I had heard about a northern harrier being seen pretty consistently at Circle B Bar Reserve for a while but I was trying not to chase new birds since I don’t seem to have much luck finding them after everyone else has seen them. Finally after several weeks of hearing about this bird I headed over for a walk fully expecting not to see it. All of the usual birds could be found as I walked down the trail. A red winged blackbird, a turkey vulture, a red shoulder hawk and even a cooper’s hawk that was trying to hide in the trees.
The usual birds were flying close by. A night heron and a great blue heron.
A common sight in the winter at the reserve, black bellied whistling ducks cruising around.
Across the lake, I could see 2 eagles sitting up to the right of their big nest.
A little blue heron found a worm in the water.
Here he is. My first northern harrier. I wasn’t standing there alone. There were at least 20 other people in the area looking for the bird. He showed up far across the marsh and then slowly started cruising towards the trail.
He flew by several times and then perched on a dead tree right in front of the trail. It’s his face that makes him different. From the side he almost has an owl-like face. Harriers are not extremely rare in central Florida but this is the first one I’ve heard of at any of the main parks so it was easy to find him. He was only here for the winter but maybe he’ll come back next year. After digging around in some older posts, I realized that I had seen a harrier back in 2016 at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. The shot was a far away blurry pin dot shot so I’m not really counting that sighting (am I?).
It was a beautiful morning in late January. The sun hadn’t come up over the trees yet and you could still see the moon across the marsh. It was so quiet and only a few other people farther up on the trail. The black bellied whistling ducks were flying back and forth across the trail, heading far off down the marsh. I took a few deep breaths and was so glad I had set my alarm to get here earlier than I usually do.
As I walked down the trail, birds and ducks were constantly flying overhead.
You could still see the cobwebs along the edge of the trail.
Heading down Marsh Rabbit Run, I heard them calling as they started flying towards me and was able to catch the sandhill cranes flying by.
The marsh was all brown from the cold but the sky was bright blue.
I do have sad news. Morty, the wild turkey that had been living at Lake Morton for a few months was found dead in the lake. He made it long past Thanksgiving and Christmas. I haven’t heard what had caused it but that’s a tough lake to live on. So many aggressive swans and muscovy ducks there. No one ever said where he came from, he just showed up at the lake and stayed for a while. I had taken the above in early December.
Ducks were already getting frisky in early December even though we still had a cold spell to get through.
This morning it was dark and cloudy and I was standing at the lake watching the ducks when an eagle fly by. Since the lake was quiet, I left and headed over to Circle B Bar Reserve.
It was a quiet morning. A swamp sparrow came out from the bushes and the trail was full of blue gray gnatcatchers as usual.
Nothing new on the trail this morning. It wasn’t until a visit in late January that I saw a new bird but more on that later.
I did see this mom and her two almost grown kids just walking down the trail. They would stop and sniff into the bushes but then pop back out on the trail and continue to cruise. Raccoon butts are so cute! They stayed in front of me on the trail for a while.
Even though it was quiet it was still a good walk. I didn’t stay too long, in by 8am and out by 10am.
I spent some time at Circle B Bar Reserve watching the black bellied whistling ducks in late November. Just sitting on the trail for a while watching them go about their day. There were hundreds of them out in the marsh and they were very loud. Talking to each other, flying in and out. I love hearing the sound of their whistles (almost like a wheezing) as they moved about. I wonder what they are saying. “I see a hawk, everybody run.” or “You’re in my spot.” or “The bugs are better over here.” or “Mom, can I go play with Junior’s family?”. The ones with the gray beaks are juveniles.
On the other side of the trail was the lake with the cypress trees in the middle.
The yellow flowers were out in full force in early November at Circle B Bar Reserve.
Usual birds along the trail. That anhinga has something stuck on his beak. Hopefully he was able to scrap it off. He would be really hard to catch since his is flying and was on a stump in a lake full of alligators.
An eagle flew over my head along the trail.
Later I saw a young eagle sitting on a tree far off the trail close to the lake.
This one was close to the trail. Probably waiting for foot traffic to stop so he could cross.
I found these young juvenile purple gallinules feeding along the trail. One was almost completely purple and the other hadn’t quite got his bright purple feathers in yet.
Views from the trail including that small alligator cruising along the lake.
The long walk around. I took the long way around Eagle’s Roost Trail to avoid the crowds later in the morning. I had the trail all to myself. This was right before my hip started hurting so I’ve only made a short trip back since then and stayed close to the parking lot area,