Morning Marsh Adventure (The Final Trail)

(This is a continuation of the previous two posts, an exploration of the Circle B Bar Reserve, near Lakeland, Florida, USA.)

Well, the Florida sun is making its presence known and it’s beginning to get warm out here.  I’m glad we brought some water.  Just a bit more and we’ll head back to the truck where we can enjoy a fresh, juicy Florida navel orange.

As we discovered, the marsh is full of Sandhill Cranes and we’ve been hearing their calls and trumpeting all morning.  For the last half hour, we’ve been hearing a particularly loud and continuous trumpeting which has been getting closer and closer.  Now, down the path, we see four cranes, outstretched necks pointed skyward, trumpeting for all they’re worth.  What a sight and sound show!  I approached slowly (and took about 50 pictures) but they were unconcerned and let me eventually pass.  I took a few more pictures from the other direction and about every 60 seconds they launched into another serenade to the heavens.  It was quite a spectacle.

Listen to what the Sandhill Crane sounds like here:  Sandhill Crane.

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Sandhill Crane

Continuing through the marsh, there are sights on all sides as well as in the air.  A Great Blue Heron displays his magnificent wingspan as he comes in for a landing.  The Snowy Egret ought to be called the “Showy” Egret, a perfect combination of white, yellow and delicate feathers.  We spotted an odd couple on the water:  a Lesser Scaup and a female Bufflehead.  They were together when we first saw them and something caused them to fly away.  When we returned to the spot about 30 minutes later, they were still together.  I don’t know if this close association of two different duck species is normal or not.

Great Blue Heron

Great Blue Heron

Snowy Egret

Snowy Egret

Lesser Scaup

Lesser Scaup

Bufflehead

Bufflehead

The air turned pink again for awhile when several Roseate Spoonbills flew overhead.  We also noted a resting pair in the reeds.  An American White Pelican appeared but didn’t stay long.  Others told us there was a flock of 100-150 on the main lake.  Palm Warblers were abundant and they’re always a pleasure to observe.  An Eastern Wood Pewee was busy chasing lunch.

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Roseate Spoonbill

Palm Warbler

Palm Warbler

Eastern Wood-Pewee

Eastern Wood-Pewee

My treat for the day was a chance to watch bald eagles hunting, soaring and nest building.  A really magnificent bird!  It’s amazing how the immature drab colored bird will grow into the handsome likeness of his parents.  Icing on the cake was a Red-shouldered Hawk who perched long enough for a portrait and then flew over my head to pounce on something behind me (out of sight and camera range, of course!).  Another beautiful raptor!

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Bald Eagle

Circle B Bar Reserve

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

Red-shouldered Hawk

(NOTE:  I never use bait or lures when photographing wildlife.  The “head-on” shots of the eagle and hawk were fortuitous as I was in their normal flight path.)

As we headed back to the truck, we found yet another family of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks.  All the youngsters were feeding bottoms-up while the grownups stood guard.  Finally, a group of ducks taking a nap in the warm sun convinced us it was time to call it a day.

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

Black-bellied Whistling Duck

It was a good day.  There are some side stories from the trip which may be told at a later time.  For example, a Bald Eagle crashing the crane singing party and more on inter-species duck attraction.  Until then, thank you for going along on our Marsh Morning Adventure!

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit.

Additional Resources:

Circle B Bar Reserve

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 34 Comments

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34 thoughts on “Morning Marsh Adventure (The Final Trail)

  1. Wow! What great action shots! I really enjoyed this post and your photos – thanks!

  2. Hi Wally!
    I had to search for you, to look at your blog and that was really worth the effort! You’re living in a bird paradise I think! So good photos and excellent models too! Love the cranes and the pink one (spoonbill), wow, never seen anything like them, and of course the white egret (with the lovely blue water and the yellow flower!) which I only seen one time ever. Oh, my goodness, I love to see your photos, specially since we really got Winter now, even more snow now and cold! Brr…
    Greetings Pia in Sweden

    • Pia, thank you so much for your effort to find us! Yes, we are very fortunate here with so many birds all year. Please come for a visit anytime to be warmed by our sunshine!

  3. These three posts have me itching to hit up Circle B.
    Definitely adding this to Florida must-sees!

    • It’s a very “user friendly” place with easy, well-maintained trails and a very nice new visitor’s center. As with other areas in Florida, you need to watch where you step as the place offers plenty of snakes, ‘gators, spiders, itchy plants and humidity! A small price to pay for all those birds. 🙂

  4. So glad you visited me this week as I’ve found myself here in bird heaven. 🙂
    Amazing photography!
    The cranes and on down to the pink spoonbill against the sky to bald eagles – a beautiful feast for the eyes!!!
    I had to go back to the thumbnails to try and find you since I don’t do Google+ and your page there doesn’t have a link here so I just saw your ‘crow about’ comment to Stewart and immediately smiled. Made me wish I’d said it – perfect choice of words I thought. 🙂

  5. WAU – where a beautiful series of images showing – amazing all together.
    The image of the eagle is sitting on a piece of wood is super nice.
    Thanks for the comment on my blog.
    Wish you a good weekend 🙂
    Hanne Bente

  6. Wow! So many gorgeous captures!

  7. Pam

    I would dearly love to capture an Eagle, but unfortunately their nesting area was destroyed by hurricanes.
    They are all great captures, Wally.

    • Pam, eagles are resilient and may well find another nesting area near to the one that was destroyed. I’ll keep my fingers crossed. Thank you for the nice comments!

  8. Hi there – great set of pictures – but the cranes are remarkable.

    I resisted using the “something to crow about” line – but I see you succumbed to temptation!!!

    Cheers – Stewart M – Melbourne

  9. What a fun filled day you had! Love the shots of the Eagles! The Bufflehead is adorable! Thanks for sharing!

  10. A great set os shots Wally. Those head-in-the air Cranes just fabulous, and like you say it’s the spectacle and noise which is so wonderful.The Roseate Spoonbilss too are just wonderful colours, not to mention a Bald Eagle overhead, sigh. Go easy on that sunshine and fresh orange juice and think of me – Hot Soup and frosty nights.

    • Thank you, Phil. Easy to see why I’m addicted to that place! I lived in Europe for 12 years and well remember the gray days and cold nights. I’ll send some sunshine your way!

  11. Well Wally, you have really outdone yourself. To begin with, the four Sandhill Cranes calling would be enough for me to shoot an entire memory chip of photos. I love that shot!! I can hear them calling just looking at that photo. The Great Blue is beautiful and the Snowy is set off perfectly with the yellow flower. My next fave is the female Bufflehead. I really enjoy Buffleheads and you caught a great shot of her. All the birds are impressive in their own right but the shot of the Red-shouldered Hawk coming right at you is awesome and shows their namesake well. Great post!

    • Larry, thank you so much for the really kind comments. I took over 900 images in less than 4 hours. And, yes, the cranes took up their fair share of that space!

  12. My favorite place! I’ve got to start getting back out there. Looks like things are cranking up by the looks of all your great shots! Love that crane singing shot. Hope that’s a sign of babies to come in spring.

    • Since this quartet was singing on Wading Bird Way where the middle bench is, and because it appears a couple of these birds were not yet adults (based on the “rust” on their wings), I’m wondering if this is one of our Circle B families from the spring? It’s always a neat place wander around.

  13. The roseate spoonbills look like they just stepped off the cover of Vogue Magazine. Eat your hearts out, supermodels!

    • There was a roosing tree with about a dozen spoonbills in it and at least another dozen below it. But I couldn’t find a way to get to it! 😦

  14. Wally, I never visited Circle B while I lived in Florida, I am now kicking my own bottom for not doing so! Your post made me feel like I was there with you.

    • Mia, it seems that no matter what time of year I visit, it’s always like being a kid in a candy store! Thanks for walking along with me.

  15. Holy moly, Wally – the Circle B must be quite the place for birders and photogs. It must have been very impressive to be that close to so many sandhills while they were calling – they’re so very loud. Normally, I can’t get very close to them at all around here and they’re still loud. I’m especially envious of your RS Hawks. Interesting post!

    • Ron, the reserve is overwhelming for someone like me who is happy sitting on the ground just watching a hawk sitting in a tree watching me. 🙂 We have a local crane population year around and then the winter migrants arrive making the marsh quite a noisy place. Add in the Limpkins yelling at each other, myriad waterfowl cackling, grunting, squawking and quacking and you need ear protection!

  16. beautiful photos!! love this area…

  17. TexWisGirl

    ugh! i may have to stop following your blog. i have serious bird photography envy going! bald eagles, too?! ugh!!! 🙂

    those baby bbw butts are too dang cute!

    • The reserve is on the shore of a medium sized lake with abundant fish. There is a healthy local eagle population and each winter, migratory eagles also spend the season here. Those chicks are cute!

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