Early morning at Pine Island beach, north of Tarpon Springs and south of Cedar Key. I had not spent any time in this area and it’s a beautiful quiet area. At least it was in October.
I was hoping to find some new shorebirds here but it was the same old ones that I can find in my usual spots near home.
Fiddler crabs along the shoreline.
Just me and my shadow on the boardwalk, looking out on the gulf.
This is a small beach compared to beaches in the Tampa bay area. It’s a little off the beaten path so it might not get the crowds in the summer that we see on Clearwater beach or St. Pete beach. It was a beautiful morning and I was glad to be out of the house and out on the road.
The drive into the beach is a long 2 lane road with marsh on both sides. The first two shots were looking right and the bottom two were looking left as you drive in. This is why they call this area the “Nature coast”.
I caught the barred owl just waking up from his morning nap at Circle B Bar Reserve in early March.
An osprey hovering close to the trail.
My favorite tree twins in the middle of the lake. Here it still was missing it’s leaves. Bald cypress trees lose their leaves in the winter here in central Florida.
The sun was already high up in the air by the time I walked down Marsh Rabbit Run.
A quiet early walk at Circle B Bar Reserve.
I was looking through some old folders recently and came across some pictures I had taken of the great old trees at Circle B Bar Reserve. Some have changed a lot, some have not changed at all and some are gone. The ones above were taken in December, 2010. They were full of wood storks and the marsh was full of coots. We rarely see coots there now.
The same tree, taken this past December.
Same trees as the first two pictures, taken in January of 2013.
The trees in the fog, taken in December of 2017.
This was taken in 2009. I loved the old tree full of moss.
My first trip to the reserve was in October 2009. The marsh and trees were full of birds.
A very rare time I was there for the sunrise, back in November 2011.
Taken in 2011, some of the frequent visitors called this the “Magic” tree. It use to always have birds on it.
The same tree in 2013. Not long after this, the tree disappeared. It must have fallen down from old age.
A recent picture of the tree that greets you on main trail. It’s rare to not stop and take a picture of some bird on it.
Red shoulder hawks are everywhere. Soon they’ll be nesting.
Same for the great blue herons.
The usual turtles and gators.
A few white pelicans fly overhead.
Not sure what this is but I think it’s a cocoon of some kind. How did this bug get those sticks so perfect?
The marsh is full of bur marigolds in November and December.
The squirrels were busy grooming and eating.
Plants along the trail.
Roadblock on the trail. I was almost all the way down Marsh Rabbit Run trail when I saw this. My choices were to sit and wait and see if he moves or turn around and go back. I sat down on trail for about 15 minutes when a park ranger came from the other side of the trail in a cart and spooked the gator off the trail. The park ranger said he slept there for over 2 hours the day before. I probably would have given up and turned around after half an hour if the ranger hadn’t come by. That little moorhen was not as close as it looks in the shot. He was busy preening and ignoring the gator.
Linking to Wednesday Around the World
I got to Circle B Bar Reserve just after the sun came up but it was hiding behind the fog. There were a few people already there but the crowds don’t usually come until closer to lunchtime. I love it when it’s so quiet. Only the birds and ducks were making noise.
The fog was really thick this particular morning in early January. It did not burn off until I was leaving.
Bald cypress trees in the middle of the lake. All of these were taken with my phone.
From the parking lot at Circle B Bar Reserve. The reserve had only been open a few days since Hurricane Irma had hit when I made the trip over to walk the trails. It was closed for almost 6 weeks after the hurricane due to so much damage on the trails. The most popular trail is still closed since part of the trail was washed out (they don’t want people wading in the swamp with the alligators, go figure!). The one thing I noticed immediately was the lack of leaves on most of the trees around the parking lot. The wind stripped them all away. The above trees were full of green leaves before Irma. It made parts of the park look like the dead of winter even though the weather had still been in the 80’s.
There was still a lot of moss in some of the trees as the sun was coming up over Heron Hideout Trail.
The big dead trees along Marsh Rabbit Run trail were still standing.
Looking across the marsh, I knew it was going to be a perfect morning out.
The trails had downed trees all long the way. It must have taken them a while to move all of those fallen trees off the trail. The moss still covered the ones that were still standing.
People who come here often complain about the amount of people who now come to the park, especially after the video of the alligator crossing the trial. It is a free public park after all. If you can get here early in the morning, it’s still a magical place. I like to walk the trails when it’s very quiet. As the big families are heading in right before lunch, I’m heading home for lunch so it works out.
All lush and green, this was taken in early April before the drought started taking a toll on the marsh.
I did not change the color on this glossy ibis. They were in their breeding feathers and the colors were so deep. When the sun hits them you can really see the patterns.
So many purple gallinules lately. They are so much fun to watch.
One lone baby limpkin. Mom was close by looking for food.
Far out in the marsh, this great egret caught a stick with his fish.
Mom moorhen feeding the baby.
Now that’s lunch! He caught the fish but then moved locations. I caught him right as he was swallowing it.
Early April at Circle B Bar Reserve.