Circle B Bar Reserve

I’ve been into birding for just about as long as I can remember, most seriously since moving back to Florida in 2004.  I explore much of Florida regularly, either camping or just taking day trips to check things out.  I love our state parks and other protected lands.  I’ve recently started actually keeping track of my sightings and looking into locations on the Great Florida Birding and Wildlife Trail.  This is game changing.  Remember when Pokemon Go was kind of a big deal?  The goal was to capture all of these rare Pokemon with your mobile phone.  Well.  Birding is kind of like real life Pokemon, only with real, live critters that you don’t physically capture.  It’s so fun to find a bird that’s uncommon and add it to my life list!  I thought at first that I’d quickly run out of birds to find and add to my list, but with 914 species of birds in North America, I’ll probably be looking for quite awhile. 🙂

Anyway!  I digress.  (As usual.)  In my quest for birds, I finally went to check out Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland.  Now, I’ve been to a whole lot of places in this state of ours that have lots of wildlife.  But.  Oh.  My.  Goodness!  Never have I seen so many birds and other critters naturally occurring in one area.  Managed by the Southwest Florida Water Management District, this place is truly a treasure.  Not only is it teeming with life, it’s meticulously maintained and simply beautiful.  Confession time.  I actually drove the two hours (each way!) from my house three times in four days to visit the reserve.  The first day I went alone, the second day I took my family and some of my dearest friends, the third day I took my little girl.  Speaking of my little girl!  This kid is seriously getting into birding too, and I love it!  She’s been using my old Nikon D50 to also start honing her photographic skills.  I just love her!

Okay, on to the photos!  Also, I’m going back again tomorrow.  Yep, that makes four trips in… one week.  I’m hoping it’ll be sunny tomorrow because it rained two of the days I went and was super overcast all three days.  It’s not particularly easy to shoot fast moving birds in low light.  Not to mention, it’s a little dreary and doesn’t make for very happy photos.  Don’t forget to follow me on Instagram for the latest shots from my explorations because I rarely post everything here.  All right all right… the photos!

The first thing I saw was these two very hungry wild hogs.  Not the prettiest creatures.

The roseate spoonbill has such lovely colors this time of year!

Tricolored Heron

Barred Owl

Roseate Spoonbill

Great White Egret

Limpkin with her chicks

Limpkin and baby

Limpkin chick

Great Blue Heron

Gray Squirrel holding a little plant.

Gray Catbird

Another Roseate Spoonbill

Just a bunch of birds hanging out together.

Great White Egret

Limpkin

Great Blue Heron

My favorites of the day, Sandhill Cranes with their colt.

Cattle Egret

Cattle Egret

Great Blue Heron

Hungry Great Blue Heron

Wood Stork hiding in the brush.  Almost missed him.

White Ibis

Double Crested Cormorant

Tricolored Heron

Anhinga

Treefrog Trail

One of the non-bird critters that crossed my path.  Armadillo.

Black Bellied Whistling Duck.  These guys are loud!  But they sound so cute.

Sneaky Gator

Anhinga

Common Gallinule and her chicks

Another Anhinga.  Males are all black, females have a brown head.

Green Heron

Just a nice, albeit rainy, view.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron and Tricolored heron.

Limpkin

Roseate Spoonbill showing off his beautiful plumage.

Snowy Egret taking off.

This alligator was pretty intensely chasing off smaller alligators that happened to get close to him.

Same cranky gator and a brave great white egret.

A peaceful moment.

Great Blue Heron

An older baby limpkin

Black Bellied Whistling Ducks

Great Egret

All I could see of the barred owl after sunset

Next day… black bellied whistling ducks.

Blue-winged Teal

Daddy and his colt again

My all-time favorite picture of Sandhill Cranes, as baby copies daddy spreading his wings.  So cute!

The Easter bunny?

Little gator

Not the Easter bunny.

He’s the reason I came out to Circle B Bar in the first place!  The Painted Bunting.  I saw photos of him on Instagram, taken at the reserve, and I knew I just had to come find him as I’ve never seen one!  The first day, three of them flew past me and I missed them.  Second day, didn’t see any.  Third time was the charm, and he let me snap a few pics, but not very willingly as he was hiding in the folliage and spanish moss.

How to tell a Cormorant and Anhinga apart?  There are actually quite a few differences, but the easiest is that an Anhinga has a straight, pointy beak, and the Cormorant’s is hooked.

Hello gator.

Cardinal seemed to be following me around.

Fat, happy alligator.  Presumably.

Great Blue Heron

Barred Owl

And to end, a sweet baby Barred Owlet.

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