The reserve was covered in fog when I first walked out on the trails in early March. I could hear the sandhill cranes calling out but could not see them very well.
After the fog lifted, I saw several on my walk.
Spider webs blanketed the trails.
The usual residents.
A bittern close to the trail.
It can look dark and foggy early in the morning but it doesn’t stay that way long in early spring in central Florida.
Sandhill cranes on the ground and in the air.
A red shoulder hawk hiding in the tree. I blew this out to get the details in his feathers to show up.
A young limpkin stretching.
A baby limpkin getting feed.
A tricolored heron along the water.
A baby great blue heron still on the nest. Looking all grown up but not yet ready to fly.
Green and orange flash in the bushes.
Alligators were everywhere. They were very loud since it was the beginning of mating season. Now one of the main trails is closed for the summer since the alligators spend a lot of time on the trails raising their young.
I was taking a picture of something else when I caught the above out of the corner of my eye. I quickly turned around to snap but I had the wrong settings to get a good clear picture of him. He was gone in a few seconds. I finally see one walking across the trail in front of me and did not get a good picture. I was bummed but at least I wasn’t missing a limb.
I stopped by a neighborhood pond to see what was floating around in it. I parked my car and got out and saw two sandhill cranes in someone’s yard. Just relaxing under a tree. They stayed there while I was walking around the lake. When I got back to my car, they were walking around in the street.
Nothing too exciting in the pond. A great blue heron was hiding in the reeds.
My favorite muhly grass was pink and the red berries were out.
A red bellied cooter and a soft shell turtle were basking in the sun.
Not much floating in the pond right now. Hopefully, some winter ducks will show up.
They were so tiny, they didn’t even come up to the parent’s knee.
The parents were chasing off a nosy alligator. They put on quite a display.
The alligator finally left with a “I’ll be back” grin on his face.
The babies were right along the water line. Too close for comfort.
Both parents stayed close to the babies. Mom was digging around in the mud.
In the Circle B rumor mill, this is the couple that had one baby back in mid-March that had lost that baby. They nested again on the small island in the middle of the pond on Wading Bird Way and had two babies this time. These were taken when the babies where about a week old. I was glad to hear that they nested again. The family was cruising along the water line in the big pond. An alligator had gotten too close and the parents chased it away. I took a few pictures and left them to their feeding.
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.