(This article was originally written June 15, 2012.)
I took a stroll yesterday morning through a marshy area just south of town. The sun had just broken the horizon, not a sign of a cloud was in the bright blue sky and the air was fresh and clean. The Circle B Bar Reserve, near Lakeland, is a former cattle ranch purchased in 2000 by Polk County and the Southwest Florida Water Management District.
As I started down a grassy path, the sentinel of the swamp (Wood Stork) looked down at me from his perch atop a dead tree. I was reminded of Dante’s Inferno and wondered if I was about to cross the River Styx. Instead of abandoning all hope, I trudged onward.
The marsh was waking up. Tall trees decorated with Roseate Spoonbills, Wood Storks and White Ibises came to life with stretching, fluttering and general clucking.
A pod of American White Pelicans complained when a gang of Spoonbills tried to horn in on their feeding spot.
A Purple Gallinule with a mouth full of nesting material darted in and out of the greenery, perhaps to throw off any would-be predator from finding her nest.
Florida Sandhill Cranes think this is a great place to raise kids. Momma explains to Junior that it’s time for him to start feeding himself. Right.
The sun is rising higher and the dew is burning off the Swamp Hibiscus. It’s June in Florida. Hot. Steamy. Time for all creatures to find water, shade and be thankful for surviving another day.
Thanks for listening.
(Check out “Circle B Bar Reserve” in the Gallery for additional images.)