Foggy and yellow

I love going to Circle B Bar Reserve early in the morning when it’s foggy (as long as it burns off quickly). It makes the reserve look different than other days. You can see all of the spider webs across the marsh and it makes you realize just how many spiders there are out there.

Black bellied whistling ducks flying out across the marsh.

The bur marigolds were blooming in mid-November and the marsh was a blanket of yellow.

A few of the little critters flying around.

It was a quiet day for birds, except for some of the usuals including purple gallinules and swamp sparrows.

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Early November walk

It was a beautiful morning for a walk at Circle B Bar Reserve in early November.

A pretty mushroom on the trail. I rarely see them with color.

Critters on branches include a black bellied whistling duck, a tricolored heron and an anhinga that looks like she’s going through a full moult.

The whistlers have been regulars along the trail during the winter.

I thought this juvenile night heron was sleeping but he popped his head up after a few  seconds. That pattern on his wings is very cool and goes well with his bright orange eyes.

Far across the lake I could see both eagles sitting high up in a cypress tree.

I saw the crowd as I was walking down the trail and realized they were watching a tiny alligator cross the trail. He looked so tiny compared to the big ones along the trail. It was almost comical to watch him cross.

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Yummy fish for breakfast

I was walking down Marsh Rabbit Run trail at Circle B Bar Reserve recently when I saw this great blue heron walking in front of me with a big fish.

I froze thinking he would take off but he just stopped and played with his snack for a while. I’m not sure if he was waiting for the fish to stop wiggling or he was just trying to get a good angle to swallow it. He jumped down into the water right before he swallowed it but he got it down whole.

Flappers at Circle B Bar Reserve

Some of the little birds that are often seen at Circle B Bar Reserve are the house wren and common yellowthroat.

We were looking for the yellow billed cuckoo along the trail and someone spotted this summer tanager from across the marsh. It’s the first time I’ve seen one here.

We found the pair of cuckoos but they were doing their best to hide high up in the trees.

The usual birds to find in the water here. A common moorhen taking a bath and the grebes have returned for the winter.

“Mom, pay attention. That lady is watching us.”

“She’s not going to bother us unless she’s willing to wade through alligator infested marsh”

“Okay, so we can relax. It’s been a busy morning eating bugs.”

Later I passed the black bellied whistling duck family (looks like the other parent is here) and the babies were all napping. It’s such a treat to see these babies here since the main trails are closed in the summer. This is a late family for late October.

Creeping things along the trail

What would you expect to find walking down Marsh Rabbit Run Trail at Circle B Bar Reserve? I rarely see them on this trail but there it was on my walk in late October. As I got closer and he disappeared in the bushes on the side I yelled “Don’t go in there. The alligators will get you” but he didn’t listen.

These guys are always hanging on the side of the trails.

So are these. Marsh Rabbit Run should really be called Creepy Spider Trail.

This is what you see after the trails open back up after being closed for the summer. The sides of the trails are full of spiders. Those tiny dots are spiders in between the trees. That’s why you don’t want to get to close to the sides of the trails (although most of them are pretty high up there are usually a few lower down). I think for the most part these are harmless although I always do a spider check if I feel like I walked through a web.

An eagle cruising far away across the marsh.

My favorite purple clowns were out feeding. These are juvenile purple gallinules that hadn’t gotten their purple feathers in. Soon they will look like the one below. They were eating the tips of the alligator flag plants.

Assuming this is one of the parents.

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The moon was still up

There’s something magical about being at Circle B Bar Reserve when the sun is coming up. Besides it not being crowded or hot yet, the birds and critters are very active this early in the morning. It was my first time back since April and it felt good to be out on the trails. I usually don’t come during the summer because it is so hot and the main trails are closed due to alligators nesting on them.

Turning around, I could see the moon still up in the sky.

Of course I had to stop and take pictures of my favorite spot before heading down the trails. The last one is with my phone and you can see how big the marsh is on this trail.

The great blue heron was sitting right on the trail. I walked right under him and he didn’t move. I stopped and snapped the 2nd one with my phone so you can see how close he was.

After passing him I turned around to see if he had flown off. Nope, he’s still there watching the sun come up.

A few fly bys. A night heron and a pair of cormorants.

Some of the tiny birds, a common yellowthroat (who looks more like a masked bandit) and some blue gray gnatcatchers.

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Until next winter

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.

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Birds at Circle B Bar Reserve

Swamp sparrows were hiding in the bushes in early April.

What a mouthful!

House wrens usually stay hidden but this one popped out for a minute.

You can always find a lot of green herons at Circle B Bar Reserve.

This kingfisher sat still for about 30 seconds and I was able to catch this.

A goldfinch was feeding in the wild grass near the nature center.

Typical shot of the great blue heron on top of a tree along the trail.

I found the needle in the haystack

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.

Walking through the fog.

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.

The bottom two pictures are panos with my phone.

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