Old historic markers along the lake in front of the St. Anne’s shrine near Lake Wales.
Back in the 1920’s a group of French Catholics from Canada came down to Florida to escape the winters (sound familiar?). They spent some time on a small lake just outside of Lake Wales. One of the men had a son who was terminally ill and ended up getting better while they were at the lake so they built a church and grotto after St. Anne. After World War 2 the Canadians eventually stopped coming and the church was eventually torn down. The original grotto and some of the statues are still there. I had heard about this little spot and stopped by on a recent trip to Bok Tower Gardens. It’s only 10 minutes from the gardens. The shrine sits back in some woods right off the lake and is surrounded by houses now. Growing up Catholic, we use to go visit the Ave Maria Grotto in north Alabama so I was curious about it.
This grave sits near the alter.
I’ve heard that people still hold unofficial services here. It was very quiet while I was there during the week. There might be more people on the weekends or near Easter.
Some of the old original walls of the church.
I noticed this pop of color growing deep in the woods around the grotto. Assuming someone planted them there years ago.
Of course, there was a sandhill crane couple sitting in the tall grass along the lake right in front of my car. I changed out my short lens for a longer one and snapped a few pictures.
It would be interesting to know what the neighbors along the small lake think about the people who stop by to see the shrine. I would hope people visiting would be quiet and respectful of the area. Did the people who moved to the houses next to the shrine do so because of the shrine or did the area just happen to be close to work or maybe they liked the lake?
There was only one. I don’t know if there were more than that but at this point the couple only had one baby. He was getting big and was almost as big as his parents. I found the family at the far end of Heron Hideaway Trail near Eagle’s Roost Trail. They were just hanging out and the baby was taking a break. The reserve had just recently opened back up so this guy probably spent his earliest time without anyone around. Now there was a constant parade of people down the trail but “Fraiser” didn’t seem fazed.
After a few minutes on the side of the trail, the family started heading out.
I started walking down the trail ahead of them and they were following me. They were walking fast so I kept turning around and snapping. I had to move pretty quickly to keep them all in the picture. It was funny to watch them so casually cruising down the trail.
Later I saw another couple across the marsh but I didn’t see any babies with them.
Lots of spoonbills in the marsh mixed in with the ibis.
Must have been some good snacks in the marsh this morning I was at Circle B Bar Reserve in late January.
Lots of white pelicans flying overhead but none were landing.
A great blue heron taking off.
I’ve only seen 2 blue wing teals this winter.
This sandhill crane was standing on a nest out in the marsh. I have since heard that this nest did not work but there are other crane couples out there nesting. It would be fun to have crane babies this spring.
It was mid-May and birds were still gathering sticks for nests. All morning long they were flying back and forth from one set of bushes to another.
A sandhill crane flies over the park.
Wood storks were busy adding to their nests.
Cattle egrets were doing the same.
It’s always busy in the mornings at the bird rookery in Gatorland. Wild birds are still coming in to nest over the lake full of alligators. The mangroves were filled with nests in different stages. Some had parents still sleeping on eggs, some had newborn babies, some had almost adult babies still screaming to be feed. Lots of fun activities to take pictures of.