Posted by: soniahs | May 28, 2013

Circle Bar B Reserve

I just realized that I’d been remiss in posting some photos from a hike we went on way back in February. Not that I’ve been consistently posting anything but rabbit photos lately, but anyway…

We went on a weekend trip to Tampa in the first part of February (the kittiwake-spotting  trip), and on the way back stopped at the Circle Bar B Reserve in Lakeland. As you might guess from the name, this is a former ranch (and phosphate mining site) that’s been partially turned into a wildlife preserve. It’s a good place for birding, and seemed quite popular on a Sunday afternoon.

Sandhill cranes at Circle Bar B.

Sandhill cranes at Circle Bar B.

I was really hoping to see some fulvous whistling-ducks there. Not only because these are interesting birds in and of themselves, but also how can you resist looking for a bird whose name combines an obscure color with the adorable whistling sounds it makes?

Fulvous.

Fulvous.

Sadly, it was not to be. Even though several families of fulvous whistling-ducks were reported that weekend on eBird (including with infuriating comments like “Really obvious, right by the trail”), we were not able to see any. But we had fun anyway.

Spoonbill in a tree.

Spoonbill in a tree.

We had a nice walk- the weather was quite pleasant- and saw a lot of birds and other wildlife. One of the highlights was a mother gator and her recently-hatched brood of babies. They were clearly acclimated to human attention. We assumed they were pretty close to their former nest site, which was right by the trail. Probably not a bad place for a nest, as long as you can stand the noisy human presence-maybe it helped keep the other adult alligators away.

Gator family. The mother is on the right, and babies on the left. They're pretty well camouflaged.

Gator family. The mother is on the right, and babies on the left. They’re pretty well camouflaged & just look like ridges in the muck.

Circle Bar B includes quite a bit of upland habitat, including some pine flatwoods and oak forest. However, it’s the system of ponds that are exciting to birders. There was quite a variety of wading birds, along with woodpeckers, warblers, and some raptors.

Another gator baby.

Another gator baby.

One of the highlights was a massive black & turkey vulture roost (YMMV). The birds perch in cypresses and pines along both sides of the trail. Since we were there until late afternoon, they were starting to fly in to sleep. It’s neat to hear their feathers swooshing in the wind when you’re close to them.

Limpkin on a tree.

Limpkin on a tree. The spots in the sky weren’t from a dirty lens- they’re swallows.

We also saw quite a few limpkins. These are fairly uncommon big wading birds that eat snails. While they’re solitary, we did see a lot of them in close proximity. I guess it’s good snail habitat.

Limpkin with snail.

Limpkin with snail.

After doing a big loop through the ponds, we swung by a lake before heading back to the car. It was an interesting place to visit, and it would be fun to go back at some point.

Winter day at Circle Bar B.

Winter day at Circle Bar B.

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