A stop by Swan Lake during the holidays.

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Which one doesn’t belong?

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Gotta itch!

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Floating through the lily pads.

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Imagine using your mouth to clean your foot.  Or maybe he’s using his foot to clean his mouth?

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Taking a bath.

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Friends hanging out together.

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Lady ruddy duck floating by.

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Time to take down the tree.

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Last one there is a rotten duck.

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“I’m the man!”

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Getting pretty.

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Gulp!

Another stop on the Christmas tourist tour. My sister had not been to Lakeland before to see the swans so we stopped by Lake Morton in downtown Lakeland on our way back from Bok Tower Gardens. The lake was busy with people feeding the ducks, swans and geese so we hung out for a while and enjoyed the day.

Crazy ducks in downtown Lakeland

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“Hey lady, can you turn out the light?” said the muscovy duck.

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“I’m a happy duck.” said the some sort of mallard hybrid.

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“Going for a swim.” said another mallard hybrid.

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“I am not a mallard!” says the juvenile male wood duck.

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“We are family.”

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“I can swim.” says the American pekin duck.

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“I can flap too.”

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Hanging out with friends.

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“Hey lady, what kind of brown duck is this?”

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“This needs some hot sauce.” says the muscovy duck.

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“For the hundredth time, I’m a goose, not a swan so go away.”

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This mandarin duck couple looks sad. I’m not sure whether the males lose their bright feathers in the summer?

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“Hey lady, get my good side.” says the shelduck.

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“These bugs taste yummy.”

I walked around both lakes in downtown Lakeland, Lake Morton and Lake Mirror. All of the usual summer ducks were present but sadly, one of the shelducks has gone missing. A man who lives close by and feeds the ducks daily told me that he hasn’t seen the other one in a while. I didn’t see him while I was there. Sadly, now the shelduck is all alone.  Anyone want to take up a collection to buy another one for the lonely one at Lake Mirror? You can buy a pair for $275 on Efowl.com.  It doesn’t say but maybe you could get a single one for half the price.

Linking to Saturday’s Critters

Ducks and swans at Lake Mirror

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What a pretty pair. These are the only two black necked swans at Lake Morton.

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Male wood duck snoozing as he’s cruising.

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One of the fairly new mandarin ducks that live at Lake Mirror in downtown Lakeland. These ducks are not native here. They were acquired by the city since they look “pretty”.

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Now he’s just showing off. When I first saw the couple early this spring they had just been placed on the lake. They were very skittish and stayed far away from the other ducks and people. This trip they were in front of the crowd when people were feeding the ducks. They came close to the edge so I guess they are getting used to the place.

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Female mandarin duck.

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A new duck! The city now has two shelducks. They are very pretty. Although, they don’t look that much different from all of the other hybrid mallards that are there. I was wondering how you would buy a duck pair.  You can buy a pair of shelducks on efowl.com for $175.00. Interesting.

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They were not shy. They came close the edge of the lake.

I had heard about the new ducks at Lake Mirror and stopped by there recently on my way home from Circle B Bar Reserve. It’s only a 15 minute drive from the reserve. Lake Mirror is smaller than Lake Morton, which is only a couple of streets over. Both have swans and ducks that live there. It was a perfect beautiful day in late October and I wasn’t quite ready to go home. The area around the lake was packed with people. Everyone was out enjoying the day and tons of people were feeding the ducks. It will be interesting to see if the new couple have babies next spring.

Camera Critters

Breakfast with a limpkin family

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I turn the corner to head down Marsh Rabbit Run trail and see the above standing in the middle of the trail. He didn’t seem spooked by me.

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In fact, he walked right by me. That’s my shadow. I’ve never seen them this close before. Then I realized there were 3 others close together in the ditch below the trail. They all came up on the trail and I realized it was a family. Two parents and two almost grown babies. This was one of the late summer families.

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They all seemed very relaxed as I sat down on the trail and watched them.

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One of the parents brought up a snail from the ditch.

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The smaller one ran under mom and waited while she dug out the meat.

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Then the parent ate one herself. Doesn’t that look yummy?

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The other juvenile got fed.

What a way to start the walk down the trail. I sat there for about 20 minutes watching them bring up snail after snail. This has to be the most tame family in the park. A crowd of photographers started to gather behind me and we were all amazed that they didn’t seem bothered by us. After a while the family went back down into the ditches and headed out into the marsh. I headed down the trail to see what I could find but nothing else could match that.

Ball of white fuzz

Baby swans are like cotton balls with feet and a beak. There were two at Lake Morton in Lakeland the morning I stopped by. The first picture was of a baby in a pen. The park rangers put the baby with the parents in a pen for a few weeks until the baby gets a little older and is not so vulnerable to all the dangers. There are a lot there. Eagles and hawks fly over and grab tiny things. Geese, ducks and other swans fight over territory and can be aggressive towards babies. Dogs in the neighborhoods around the lake can get out. It’s a scary life for a baby swan. The fenced in pens have space on the lake as well as grass for them to stay on.

I had been stopping by the lake almost every weekend for a while checking for babies with no luck. Finally, I got word from Jess that she had seen a baby on Friday afternoon and that by Monday the park rangers would put it in the pen. I met up with her on Sunday morning thinking I would stop for a quick visit and ended up staying for almost 3 hours. These cute little fuzz balls stole our hearts and everyone else’s who stopped by. We also saw a handful of baby ducks that morning. More on those later.

Not all ibis are the same.

A glossy ibis hanging out with a pied grebe.

Two glossy ibis hanging out together. Notice the white trim around the beak area?

I had heard there was a white faced ibis hanging around Wading Bird Way trail at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland. They are fairly rare here in central Florida. I got to the area thinking maybe it won’t be too hard to find since there aren’t that many glossy ibis around but the marsh area was full of glossy ibis. It wasn’t until I got home and cropped up this picture and noticed it was a white faced. They are similar to the glossy but have more pink around the beak and more white feathers. The adults have red eyes all year round. So this was first sighting for me.

Above is several white ibis feeding with a tricolored heron and a snowy egret.

One of the coolest things I noticed when I first moved here over 10 years ago from Atlanta, was driving through neighborhoods and seeing flocks of white ibis feeding in people’s yards. That was something I didn’t see when I lived in Atlanta. I immediately looked up the bird in my mom’s Florida water bird book to see what it was. For years I thought all ibis where white (or with brown spots if it’s a juvenile). Then I was out in a park years later and saw what looked like a white ibis but it was black, or dark in color. I looked that up and found out it was a glossy ibis. Then I heard about a rare white faced ibis here in the Tampa bay area but I never did see it. Finally, years later I have seen a white faced ibis.

An otter eating, a snake being eaten and some birds.

I’m standing along Marsh Rabbit Run trail at Circle B Bar Reserve trying to take pictures of the baby sandhill cranes. There were several other photographers there and we were all being quiet while hoping the cranes would get a little closer to the trail. All of a sudden we heard this loud crunch right behind us. We all turned around and saw this otter eating what we thought was a small turtle. He was chowing down pretty hard and making a loud crunching noise. It was almost as if he was saying “Hey guys, I’m back here.” He eventually finished it and swam off.

On Wading Bird Way, I see a great blue heron having a hard time with a snake. I took these right into the sun so they didn’t turn out to great but it was pretty funny watching him fight the snake.

He seemed to look back at me like “Can you help me with this?”

He kept shaking his head and the snake unwrapped around his beak but they continued to fight for a while. Eventually, the heron got the snake down. It made me wonder if the birds ever get bitten by a poisonous snake. Will they die if they get bite? And if they swallow the snake whole while it’s still alive, can the snake bite their stomach? It’s a tough life being a bird.

These blue winged teals didn’t get the memo telling them to go home for the summer. These were the only ones I saw in the park and they were feeding together in a tight group. The tricolored heron was sneaking by them, probably trying to see what they were eating.

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Sandhill crane babies at Circle B Bar Reserve

I walk down March Rabbit Run trail and see two sandhill cranes feeding near the trail down in the marsh. There were already several photographers there watching the couple. At first glance you can’t see the babies since they were so small. They were hidden by the tall grass. Every once in a while a little baby head would pop up but they were still hard to see. I finally got a shot of both of them but they were pretty far away.

Eventually I headed down the trail to Wading Bird Way trail. I saw the other sandhill crane couple down in the marsh there as well. I could barely see the baby. At this point it was lunchtime and getting hot. I walked down the trail a little ways and  sat down a bench and started eating my banana.  A few minutes later I see the above flapping his wings and noticed the couple had moved on to the trail.

I stayed pretty far away for a while and watch them feeding along the trail. The baby seemed very relaxed but stayed close to the parents.

I sat down on the grass and watched them cross the trail to my side of the grass.

They kept moving closer to me.

The parent was feeding the baby.

They still kept moving closer to me. At that point I could see out of the corner of my eye two people on bikes had stopped behind me and were watching the cranes. Finally, I got up and walked farther back. One of the bikers started laughing and said “I thought that bird was going to walk into your lap.” All I could think of was having that beak coming at me.  At that point I decided to start heading back to my car. I’ll try to make it back there in a couple of weeks to see how much they’ve grown.