More Orange Fuzzballs at the Circle B Bar Reserve

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Two weekends ago, my friend Michael Libbe asked if I wanted to shoot together at the Circle B Bar Reserve. Little did I realize that I’d later be accused of dragging him on a long hike carrying his heavy equipment!  :-p  I perhaps should have warned him that I’m on a Sandhill Crane colt craze this year.  The little orange fuzzballs are totally worth a hike!  We found both families at Circle B on that Saturday morning.

We started out on the Heron Hideout trail, where the first Sandhill Crane family tends to hang out.  The babies have gotten so big!  They are almost reaching that leggy stage when their baby cuteness is gone and their “teenage” feathers start coming in.  With their long legs and increased stamina, the babies didn’t stay in one place for very long.

Three Weeks Cute – Sandhll Crane colt poses in the grass early in the morning. Circle B Bar Reserve.

Michael and I followed them for a bit as they walked along the trail, stopping often to pull a nice insect from the ground.  The babies are feeding themselves now, but they will always accept a handout from Mom or Dad.

Breakfast Time! Mom feeds her Sandhill Crane colt an insect. Circle B Bar Reserve.

With a forecast of clouds and fog, I hadn’t intended to photograph the sunrise that morning.  But as I walked along the Eagle Roost trail, I looked back and noticed the sun’s rays streaming down through the clouds.  It was very pretty.  Usually I like to include water features in my sunrise shots, but in this case, the nice trail leading you into the clouds will work too…

Eagle Roost Sunrise – Mother Nature favored us with some sunrise color despite the clouds! Circle B Bar Reserve.

As we approached the Wading Bird Way trail, an Eastern Towhee called to us, reminding us to “drink our tea!”  As Rich would say, these are discriminating towhees.  Sometimes they are not, and they just call out “drink!”  We also saw Eastern Meadowlarks in the tops of the pines.   A Gray Catbird hopped out onto a fairly open branch to say hello as well.

Song of Spring – This Gray Catbird reminded me to go home and feed my gray cat! Circle B Bar Reserve.

There was so much to see on the Wading Bird Way trail as the birds woke up, but I spotted the Sandhill Crane family and dragged Michael along.  I really do have Sandhill Crane fever this spring!  The little guys are such fun.  This second family’s colts were about a week old – very small, cute orange fuzzballs!

This little Sandhill Crane colt is about a week old. Circle B Bar Reserve.

This second crane family is a little more cautious than the first family.  They stayed a safe distance away from their adoring fans, and moved off into the bushes when people got too close.  I’m glad, because the other family is way too accustomed to people!  I use my 500mm lens with teleconverters when I’m photographing these guys so that I don’t have to get very close to them.  The distance lets me capture fun moments, such as this family breakfast shot:

Together at the Breakfast Table – The two babies go for the same worm as Mom and Dad look on. Circle B Bar Reserve.

The parents were feeding the babies constantly.  Mostly insects and small worms.  At one point the parent tried to feed a bigger grub to the chick, who got three opportunities with it before Mom decided to swallow it herself!

Family Life – The two baby colts preen while their mom eats a grub. Circle B Bar Reserve.

These siblings interacted with each other a lot.  They’d run after each other, bite at each other, and grab each other’s worms.  I even caught a few shots where Baby #1 was biting at the wing of Baby #2.  It was hilarious.

Oh boy! A worm! Mom, he took mine… Circle B Bar Reserve.

A loud helicopter or plane flew overhead at one point, and it was fun to watch the babies react.  The parents didn’t seem bothered by the noise at all, but both babies stopped and turned their heads to try to see what was making the ruckus.  I loved this shot with both their head angles as they stood puzzling over their new world…

Look Up! What’s that helicopter flying over us? Circle B Bar Reserve.

One of the things I love about the Circle B Bar Reserve is the wide variety of birdlife.  While we stood and watched the Sandhill Crane family, all these other birds entertained us as well.  We saw at least four Black-Necked Stilts flying around (my first-of-spring sightings).  A couple of Yellowlegs ran around in front of us.  Wood Storks and a few American White Pelicans flew around our heads.  It’s hard to get bored standing out on Wading Bird Way in the early morning at this time of year!

FIrst-of-Spring Stilt – Look at that red eye! Circle B Bar Reserve.

I missed most of the migrant ducks this winter.  I chuckled to myself when I photographed this Blue-Winged Teal in flight and realized that he was my first teal of the winter!  At least I was able to get back out on the trails before he too headed for home…

Blue-Winged Teal – I love the beautiful colors that these birds show off in flight. Circle B Bar Reserve.

This too was my first Pied-Billed Grebe shot of the season.  The grebes are such plain little ducks, but they are quite pretty in their breeding colors.  Now I want to see one with babies.  Their little fuzzballs are very colorful!  Maybe if I’m lucky this spring…you always have something that draws you back into the marshes… :)

Pied-Billed Grebe – This plain bird’s breeding plumage dresses up him nicely. Circle B Bar Reserve.

Want to learn more about nature photography at Circle B Bar Reserve?

Check out my Circle B Bar Reserve page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!

Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!

One thought on “More Orange Fuzzballs at the Circle B Bar Reserve

  1. You make it sound like I’m a tired old man!!! I only whined for a short while! :-)

    Great post! Love the teal shot! You’re pretty quick hand holding that beast. And yes, the orange fuzzballs are all quite cute. All of them are wonderful shots.

    I can’t wait for our next adventure!

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