Go to Top

Circle B Bar Reserve

The Circle B Bar Reserve is one of my favorite places to photograph. It's located in Lakeland off Winter Lake Road, close to the USF Lakeland campus. The preserve was a cattle ranch that was restored in the early 2000s to its native wetland habitat. A series of berms give people an opportunity to hike through the wetlands and view wildlife. The area is particularly good for birds. Alligators and otters are popular with tourists.

Photography advice: Bring a long lens and be prepared to walk! The best birding is from November through April.

Visit the Circle B Bar Reserve website

Hours vary by season. Call the nature center to verify: (863) 534-7377

Trail map: view


Springtime Stroll at Circle B Bar Reserve

Springtime Stroll at Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2017

A foggy spring morning at Circle B Bar Reserve yielded nesting Great Blue Herons, a wading bird feeding frenzy, and a flock of mixed passerines Read More


Foggy Morning Walk at Circle B Bar Reserve

Foggy Morning Walk at Circle B Bar Reserve - January 2017

Foggy mornings can still be good for photography at Circle B, especially when the birds cooperate with you!Read More


A Quick Stop at Circle B

A Quick Stop at Circle B - October 2016

Winter birds are coming back to the Circle B Bar Reserve. Our quick trip yielded Eastern Phoebes, Common Yellowthroats, and Palm Warblers.Read More


Learning to Climb – Barred Owlet

Learning to Climb – Barred Owlet - April 2016

A Barred Owlet learns how to climb as his parents share precious moments in the trees above him. Read More


A Nice Walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve

A Nice Walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2016

Springtime at the Circle B Bar Reserve yields great birds, including a Tufted Titmouse mid-air interception and a nesting pair of Great Blue HeronsRead More


Springtime Birds at Circle B Bar Reserve

Springtime Birds at Circle B Bar Reserve - February 2016

Springtime birds at Circle B...American Robins, the Barred Owl, Swamp Sparrows, and a huge flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers! Read More


New Bird Blind at Circle B

New Bird Blind at Circle B - October 2015

The new bird blind at Circle B will be great for viewing ducks, but on this morning, my best shot from the blind was a yawning Anhinga!Read More


Long Walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Long Walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve - January 2015

My dad and I walked a ton at the Circle B Bar Reserve on Sunday. Great shots of Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and Blue-gray Gnatcatchers!Read More


Annual Search for My Pole-Vaulters

Annual Search for My Pole-Vaulters - October 2014

Quiet morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve, in search of my favorite "pole vaulters", the Purple Gallinules on alligator flag reedsRead More


Peregrine Falcon at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Peregrine Falcon at the Circle B Bar Reserve - January 2014

On a cloudy day over Christmas break, I started the morning at Lake Morton and then made a stop to look for the Peregrine Falcon at the  Circle B Bar Reserve.  The Peregrine Falcon had been hanging around for several weeks, and I wanted to get some non-captive shots of this pretty species. It was a gray, cloudy day.  I walked up the Heron Hideout trail, pausing to say hello …Read More


Finally!  Nice Weather for a Walk at Circle B

Finally! Nice Weather for a Walk at Circle B - January 2014

As you will read in upcoming blog posts, the weather wasn't so great over my Christmas vacation.  So when the forecast called for sun today, I headed for a nice walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I wasn't the only one, either!  There were tons of people there.  I took the Alligator Alley trail to look for pelicans and the bobcat kittens, but knew I'd likely never see the …Read More


Promise of Eaglets at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Promise of Eaglets at the Circle B Bar Reserve - December 2013

On the last day of Thanksgiving break, my dad and I were excited to take his friend Dr. B to the Circle B Bar Reserve.  Dr. B has been to lots of fun places to photograph, but it was his first time at Circle B.  We arrived just before sunrise and found a gray, nasty morning.  The fog was thick and there wasn't even a hint of the sun.  We …Read More


Chasing Lifers

Chasing Lifers - November 2013

Michael Libbe and I had two goals on our recent trip to the Circle B Bar Reserve: to photograph the yellow flowers at sunrise, and to go chasing lifers!  A group of Fulvous Whistling Ducks has started to hang out at Circle B, and while I've caught a few quick glimpses of them, they would have been a lifer for Michael.  Cole also found a Grasshopper Sparrow not too long …Read More


Yellow Flowers are Back at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Yellow Flowers are Back at the Circle B Bar Reserve - November 2013

The yellow flowers are back at the Circle B Bar Reserve!  Each year in November, the marsh landscape bursts into color with the blooms of the burr marigolds.  These flowers are of the scientific genus bidens, and another common name for them is beggartick.  They are native to Florida and grow well in swampy locations like Circle B.  Their seeds stick easily to clothing and animal fur, so they spread really …Read More


Some Birds, the Moon, and Sensor Dust!

Some Birds, the Moon, and Sensor Dust! - November 2013

Yesterday at the Circle B Bar Reserve, Michael and I came across a group of White Ibis in my "treasure tree" along the Heron Hideout trail.  I've had many lifers in that tree, but I almost passed it without a second glance when I saw just a few common White Ibises at the treetop.  Then I noticed the moon.  Then I realized I could frame a bird portrait with the …Read More


Better Hurry, Alligator Flags at Circle B are Fading!

Better Hurry, Alligator Flags at Circle B are Fading! - October 2013

This weekend I had the rare opportunity to visit the Circle B Bar Reserve in the afternoon.  I've been there dozens of times in the morning, but I can probably count on one hand the number of times I've seen the sun set over the marshes.  It's always disconcerting to see the dramatically different afternoon light - and I often catch myself saying "good morning" to people out of pure …Read More


Winter Birds Returning to the Circle B Bar Reserve

Winter Birds Returning to the Circle B Bar Reserve - October 2013

The winter birds are returning to the Circle B Bar Reserve!  My dad and I had a great walk yesterday morning.  We saw our first-of-fall Eastern Phoebes, Gray Catbirds, Marsh Wrens, and a surprise flock of American White Pelicans flying over the marsh.  It was fun to welcome our birdy friends back to the Sunshine State! When we first arrived on the Heron Hideout trail, a very cooperative Belted Kingfisher …Read More


Fall Walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Fall Walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve - October 2013

Yesterday I finally made it out for a fall walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I haven't been there in months!  It felt great to get back out on the trails.  I love photographing along the Heron Hideout trail early in the morning on these early fall days.  The light is golden and gorgeous, illuminating the birds that are starting to return to the reserve.  The Alligator Flag plants …Read More


December 2014 will be a Good Month!

December 2014 will be a Good Month! - October 2013

I received some good news yesterday.  The Charlotte Harbor National Estuary Program's 2014 calendar will again feature one of my images.  They picked one of my favorite sunrise shots from the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I love how the sky reflects in the water as the sun peeks out through the clouds.   Look for it in December…it's going to be a good month! :)


Beast Meets Bobolink

Beast Meets Bobolink - May 2013

I'm so behind on my blog. It's that time of year when I'd rather be out with my camera than sitting behind a computer! Recently I wrote about my quest to see Bobolinks at the Circle B Bar Reserve. Bobolinks are migratory birds that make a stop-over at Circle B every May during their migration north. My dad has gotten incredible shots of the Bobolinks, but I hadn't seen them …Read More


Two Lifers on a Drizzly Circle B Bar Reserve Morning

Two Lifers on a Drizzly Circle B Bar Reserve Morning - May 2013

Last Saturday morning I visited the Circle B Bar Reserve with the hope of seeing my first Bobolink.  Bobolinks are migratory birds that pass through Circle B during early May.  My dad has seen them several times, but I never have - I've missed them every year!  I knew Saturday morning would be cloudy, but when I arrived out on the Wading Bird Trail, "cloudy" was an understatement.  The air …Read More


Sharing the Sunrise at Circle B Bar Reserve

Sharing the Sunrise at Circle B Bar Reserve - April 2013

Last Sunday my neighbor and good friend Carla joined me for a walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  Carla and I enjoy our backyard birds together, and she decided that she wanted to come see some of the places I photograph on weekends.  Brave lady - she was even willing to be up for sunrise!  We had a great morning together.  :) We were out on the Wading Bird …Read More


Easter Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Easter Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve - April 2013

Easter sunrise, a lifer, and a bobcat…it was a very good morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve!! On Easter Sunday I was out on the Wading Bird Way trail approximately 45 minutes before sunrise.  I watched the pale glow of the sun as it appeared over the horizon, and finally burst up over the clouds.  I enjoyed playing with my new off-camera flash cord, which I used to illuminate …Read More


More Orange Fuzzballs at the Circle B Bar Reserve

More Orange Fuzzballs at the Circle B Bar Reserve - April 2013

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 …Read More


Foggy Mornings at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Foggy Mornings at the Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2013

On Saturday morning, the sunrise found me out on the Wading Bird Way trail at the Circle B Bar Reserve. I was flabbergasted when my dad also arrived for the sunrise. He's not a sunrise photographer! As the sun peeked out over the horizon, fog was settling in over the marsh. It was really thick and very pretty. My dad commented that as he approached me on the trail, all …Read More


Five Days Cuter at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Five Days Cuter at the Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2013

I spent my off-Friday morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve with the Sandhill Crane family. The babies are so much bigger, and so much cuter, than they were on Sunday. The weekend crowds weren't there on Friday, and I thoroughly enjoyed my time with these wonderful birds! As the Sandhill Crane babies grow bigger, the adults take them for longer walks around the marsh.  I caught up with them …Read More


Sandhill Crane Colts Crawl into my Lap at Circle B Bar Reserve

Sandhill Crane Colts Crawl into my Lap at Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2013

I had an absolutely incredible morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve on Sunday. The Sandhill Crane colts have hatched! This is a very predictable family of Sandhill Cranes that has been bringing the tiny babies up on the trail for the past four or five years. They make wonderful photo opportunities! The nest this year is way out in the marsh. I finally found it after I heard the …Read More


Watchin’ the Wheel Go Round

Watchin’ the Wheel Go Round - December 2012

I made this image of the windmill at the Circle B Bar Reserve back in October. I had gone to look for the Snail Kite, and after the sun set, the light levels dropped quickly. As I walked back to my car I looked back and saw the windmill starting to whirl in the breeze. I made a few images using slow shutter speeds, and this one came out just …Read More


Dreaming of a Swampy Christmas!

Dreaming of a Swampy Christmas! - December 2012

I've had a nasty flu bug for a little over a week now. It's getting old! The weather is great (cold, but clear) and the birds are here and I'm sitting at the computer looking at pictures I took last year. It's time to get better. So this is where I'd like to be tomorrow morning - a nice pelican sunrise at Circle B!


Flight School

Flight School - November 2012

The Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks are pretty active these days at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  When I visited there last weekend, there were so many ducks circling overhead making their happy calls.  I noticed a bunch of juveniles, and I think they were having a little bit of a Flight School as they circled around and around.  These silly ducks are some of my favorite birds.  I love how the …Read More


Circle B Fall Sunrise

Circle B Fall Sunrise - November 2012

I seem to be on a bit of a landscape image kick lately.  This is a sunrise image from the Circle B Bar Reserve about a week ago.  As the sun peeked up from behind my shoulder, it bathed the marsh in gorgeous golden light.  Now all we need are some yellow flowers and a blanket of winter birds!


Self Portrait

Self Portrait - November 2012

Before I got serious about photography, I never really noticed the varying positions of the sun throughout the year.  Seasons to me were just "shorts or jacket weather?"  Now I pay a lot more attention to light.  A few weeks ago at the Circle B Bar Reserve, I was photographing birds off the Heron Hideout trail.  I looked down and noticed my long shadow on the ground in the early …Read More


Waiting

Waiting - November 2012

I was leaving the Circle B Bar Reserve on Saturday morning when I noticed this Belted Kingfisher perched on a branch near the Heron Hideout trail.  I was surprised that he was perched so close - usually they stay farther away.  He let me position myself at a good sun angle, then gave me a great head position before flying off to continue his morning fishing routine.  Isn't it great …Read More


December 2013 Will Be a Good Month!

December 2013 Will Be a Good Month! - November 2012

I recently received my copy of the Charlotte Harbor Estuary Program calendar, which features one of my images for December 2013.  It was so cool to see my own picture in their calendar!  The Circle B Bar Reserve is part of the Charlotte Harbor Estuary area, even though CBBR is so far inland that most people don't associate it with Charlotte Harbor.  So we tried to submit lots of good …Read More


It’s About Time!

It’s About Time! - November 2012

I've been trying to make good images of Limpkins in flight over at least the last year.  There are certainly enough Limpkins at the Circle B Bar Reserve that you would think this would be easy.  Except the silly Limpkins are very fond of giving me butt shots.  As soon as I get ready for flight shots, they start flying — away from me!  So I was very excited to …Read More


Comings and Goings

Comings and Goings - November 2012

This morning I took advantage of my off-Friday to visit the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I hadn't been there in a while, and this is the time of year when it starts to get really good.  There were no yellow flowers yet, but I did have an American White Pelican fly-over!  A group of about 30 of them flew over the Marsh Rabbit Run trail and circled around the waters …Read More


Too Close for Comfort

Too Close for Comfort - November 2012

I photographed this Great Blue Heron in awesome morning light at the Circle B Bar Reserve back in May.  He wasn't too sure about his neighbor.  Alligators and birds don't mix well! I seriously need to get out this weekend and take some new pictures! :)


Posing Pretty

Posing Pretty - October 2012

On my last sunrise visit to Circle B, I turned around and found this grackle sitting on a post behind me.  She looked so pretty with her feathers glistening in the sun.  She just begged me to take her picture…and even if she's "just a grackle," I was happy to do so!


More on the Snail Kite

More on the Snail Kite - October 2012

I received information today about the banded Snail Kite that is hanging out at the Circle B Bar Reserve lately.  According to FWC, After getting in touch with the University of Florida researchers who banded the bird, I found it was born in June of 2011 on East Lake Toho in St Cloud. We’re glad to see she (?) is doing well, the notes said she was the smaller of …Read More


Head Shot

Head Shot - October 2012

I had a great morning with friends at Orlando Wetlands today. But I haven't had a chance to go through my pictures yet, so here's one from Circle B last weekend. This Great Blue Heron's colors stood out nicely against the brown vegetation surrounding him. I was surprised to see so much brown in the landscape already. It's definitely getting to be fall…and today's weather was great! Soon it will …Read More


The Snail Kite at the Circle B Bar Reserve

The Snail Kite at the Circle B Bar Reserve - October 2012

The Circle B Snail Kite is banded, and I was pleased to get a decent shot of the band numbers on Saturday. It's not often that I use both teleconverters on the Beast! The left band reads "2510" and the right bands read "7Z". I tried to report this to the USGS Patuxent Wildlife Research Center, but I haven't had any response. Maybe I don't have enough digits off the …Read More


Snowy Shadows

Snowy Shadows - October 2012

This Snowy Egret was fishing in the warm afternoon light on Saturday evening at Circle B. I liked how his white feathers contrasted with the shadows behind him.


Everything But the Bird!

Everything But the Bird! - October 2012

Dyeyo and I thought we were being so smart on Saturday afternoon when we returned to Circle B. We'd seen the Snail Kite in the same place two mornings in a row. It's getting a reputation among birders for being predictable. But the light is all wrong in the morning. This stubborn bird sits right in between your lens and the sun. So we decided to make a return visit …Read More


The Calm Before the Coots

The Calm Before the Coots - October 2012

Each fall I look forward to the arrival of the American Coots at the Circle B Bar Reserve as a sign that our winter visitors are beginning to arrive. It's just about time for the first groups of coots to show up at CBBR. Soon these waters will be covered in little black ducks… On Saturday morning, I found my first-of-fall Coot!


Sunrise, Sunset…

Sunrise, Sunset… - October 2012

…swiftly go the days at the Circle B Bar Reserve! I ended up making three trips there this weekend. Once on Friday morning when I first saw the Snail Kite, then again on Saturday morning to show Dyeyo the Snail Kite, and then Saturday afternoon to try to catch the Snail Kite in decent light. (That didn't work out so well. More on that later this week.) So I had …Read More


First Light

First Light - October 2012

I love photographing the sunrise out on the Wading Bird Way trail at the Circle B Bar Reserve. You're standing on a trail between two bodies of water. You face one to photograph the rising sun. Then you turn to face the other, where birds often sit conveniently on posts and soak in the morning light. This Great Blue Heron didn't care when I approached him and started to take …Read More


My First Snail Kite

My First Snail Kite - October 2012

It was a beautiful off-Friday morning today at the Circle B Bar Reserve. I arrived before dawn and walked out to the Wading Bird Way trail for sunrise. I wasn't really hoping for any bird in particular - it just felt so good to be there! As I walked out, I thought about the recent posting about a Snail Kite sighting in the area. I thought, "nah, I'll never see …Read More


Solemn Stare

Solemn Stare - October 2012

I found this Wood Stork last weekend on a pale foggy morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve. He seemed curious about me, and he kept watching my camera. These guys are like the old men of the swamp. Look at that face!


Fussy Birds

Fussy Birds - October 2012

I was listening to the eagles the other morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve when I heard strange scuffling sounds. I looked up and saw this pair of Wood Storks fighting with each other at the top of a nearby tree. I guess one of them invaded the other's personal bubble…my cats can identify with that!


Circle B Christmas Trees

Circle B Christmas Trees - October 2012

At this time of year, the Wood Storks and Double-Crested Cormorants tend to roost in the tall trees in the middle of the marsh at the Circle B Bar Reserve. I often think of these as the "Christmas Trees," except they are decorated with birds instead of ornaments. When you're at CBBR on a sunny morning and you see decorated Christmas trees, it's good news for you if you want …Read More


Strike a Pose

Strike a Pose - September 2012

I finally made it back out to the Circle B Bar Reserve yesterday morning! It felt so good to get back out there. The Marsh Rabbit Run trail is now open, and I hiked it in the cool morning breeze. It wasn't a super-birdy day, although I did find a couple of Common Yellowthroats and a Yellow Warbler. The Bald Eagles and Belted Kingfishers are back, and their calls blended …Read More


Migration Forecast

Migration Forecast - September 2012

I was up early and ready to head out to look for migrants this morning…and then I heard the raindrops on the roof. My radar on my phone showed green all over the state, and a 50% rain forecast by 9am. Never mind on the birding trip… (and then it cleared up mid-morning! not fair!) So here's a migrant picture from last fall. The Yellow Warblers are so bright and …Read More


Labor Day Cloudscape

Labor Day Cloudscape - September 2012

This cloudscape image was taken at Circle B about a week ago, as the clouds of Tropical Storm Isaac passed through. As it turned out, that's pretty much all we got from Isaac - clouds and some rain. Although my dad did get a day off from school for it - lucky duck!


Here’s Lookin’ at You!

Here’s Lookin’ at You! - August 2012

This is a Barred Owl from my visit to Circle B last weekend. He was sitting high in the trees near the bend where the Alligator Alley trail turns towards the marsh. It's one of the favorite hang-outs of the owls. I actually walked right past him, but some friendly people on the trails pointed him out.


Circle B Awaits Tropical Storm Isaac

Circle B Awaits Tropical Storm Isaac - August 2012

Although the center of Tropical Storm Isaac is several days away, the wind was already picking up this morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve. It felt great! I went out to Lake Hancock for the (lack of) sunrise, then stayed on the dock photographing birds in flight for almost an hour. The breezes were wonderful. Then I made my way up the Alligator Alley trail. It was great to …Read More


Passion Flower

Passion Flower - August 2012

I came across this passion flower out on the Eagle Roost trail at Circle B a few weeks ago. The bee decided to fly in while I was shooting. How nice!


The Ugliest Bird?

The Ugliest Bird? - July 2012

I was going back through some of my old images and came across this Wood Stork, taken in January at the Circle B Bar Reserve. I love how some of his wing feathers are catching the light and look iridescent.


Summer Sunrise at Circle B

Summer Sunrise at Circle B - July 2012

With a slight breeze in the forecast, I spent the morning out on the Wading Bird Way trail at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  It's been ages since I went, and it felt great to be there!  The water levels are much higher than my last visit, when the Wading Bird Way lake was basically a mud flat.  Now the water is high enough that it flows freely through all …Read More


Dixie Iris

Dixie Iris - June 2012

After a photograph-packed weekend last weekend, this weekend was "catch up around the house."  So today's image is a Dixie Iris that I photographed at the Circle B Bar Reserve back in early March.  It was so pretty, blooming along the Alligator Alley trail, that I just had to stop and get it.  Even if it doesn't have wings! :)  


Put Your Best Spoon Forward!

Put Your Best Spoon Forward! - June 2012

I spent last Sunday morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  Boy it feels good to get back out there!  I was happy to find lots and lots of Roseate Spoonbills still hanging around off the Wading Bird Way trail.  I counted over 100!  These beautiful birds are some of my favorite ones to photograph.  About an hour after sunrise, they seemed to get their fill of breakfast, and they …Read More


One More from my Visit to the Circle B Bar Reserve

One More from my Visit to the Circle B Bar Reserve - May 2012

One more post from Sunday's trip to the Circle B Bar Reserve… There's a new family of Sandhill Cranes out on Wading Bird Way. The adults had the colts out on a "vegetation island" while I was there. From the pictures posted on Flickr, it looks like they later brought the babies up onto the trail. The babies are still tiny and in their "super-cute" phase. Who can resist a …Read More


More from Circle B Bar Reserve

More from Circle B Bar Reserve - May 2012

As I drove to work with the rising sun in my eyes this morning, all I could think was that I'd rather be at the Circle B Bar Reserve! :) It's unusual when I have such a good morning that I have to extend my description to multiple blog posts. This one is looking like it'll be a three-parter… This Great Blue Heron was so pretty in the pre-dawn light. …Read More


Sunrise Wings at Circle B Bar Reserve

Sunrise Wings at Circle B Bar Reserve - May 2012

It's been ages since I've been to Circle B.  It's sad…I used to go there every weekend, at least!  So it felt great to spend the morning on Wading Bird Way.  The water levels are really really low.  Half of the "lake" is now a mud flat.  But the good thing is that the low water levels attract hundreds of wading birds.  A sea of white wings greeted me.  Birds …Read More


Now You See Them…

Now You See Them… - April 2012

…and now you don't!  I guess April Fool's is a good day for a photographer to confess to some Photoshopping. :) I was photographing the Sandhill Crane colts at the Circle B Bar Reserve last weekend.  I set my camera to the fastest frame speed, which I don't often do, because I don't need to waste my camera shutter or my post-processing time on images that are virtually identical.  But …Read More


A Foggy Morning Turns Cute at the Circle B Bar Reserve

A Foggy Morning Turns Cute at the Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2012

The weather forecasters had it all wrong last weekend.  They said it would be partially cloudy on Saturday, rainy on Sunday.  Try it the other way around, guys.  So I went to Circle B on Saturday hoping for partial cloudcover, and I got thick fog until around 10:00.  But that was ok, because at 10:00, the Sandhill Crane family from the Marsh Rabbit Run nest brought their babies to the …Read More


Peek a Boo (Baby Sandhill Cranes at the Circle B Bar Reserve)

Peek a Boo (Baby Sandhill Cranes at the Circle B Bar Reserve) - March 2012

Yesterday I took advantage of my off-Friday morning to visit the Circle B Bar Reserve, where a pair of Sandhill Cranes has been incubating a nest for the last four weeks or so.  I knew the colts were due to be born any time, and I hoped to photograph them interacting on their nest with Mom.  I've never seen them so young that they haven't yet left the nest.  So …Read More


Achoo!  Spring Cleaning Time at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Achoo! Spring Cleaning Time at the Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2012

Last Saturday at the Circle B Bar Reserve, I heard a familiar drumming sound as I passed a dead tree.  In previous years, Red-Bellied Woodpeckers have made their nests inside this particular tree, and I've enjoyed watching the cavity hole as food is brought in for the babies.  So I stopped to watch the old hole, but after a few minutes, I hadn't seen the bird stick his head out.  …Read More


The Two Turtles – Circle B Bar Reserve

The Two Turtles – Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2012

To continue the "Lord of the Rings" titles, this post is about "The Two Turtles" (and some birds, hehe).  Rich was a very happy camper when I got home from the Circle B Bar Reserve with several pictures of turtles.  He said I had to post at least one – after all, this site is called catandturtle, even if we did name it before the bird obsession began!  So here's …Read More


The Fellowship of the Nest

The Fellowship of the Nest - March 2012

As promised, here are more pictures from my morning at Circle B yesterday.  Although I failed to find the Great Horned Owlettes, I did find several other nests.  I love springtime at Circle B! The light was horrible (or rather, non-existent!) when I first arrived.  I noticed the Osprey on Heron Hideout gathering nesting material.  Last year he nested in the top of a dead palm tree, but I noticed …Read More


Return to the Circle B Bar Reserve

Return to the Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2012

I braved the foggy weather this morning to go to Circle B for the first time in two months.  It felt so good to get out there again!  Most of the ducks have left, but the resident birds are starting to nest.  I love this time of year.  The weather wasn't great for photography—the fog didn't clear until around 10:00—but I had a great time with the Beast anyway.  I …Read More


On the Run at the Circle B Bar Reserve

On the Run at the Circle B Bar Reserve - January 2012

Here's an appropriate post for my first day back to work – "on the run!"  This was an American Coot from the Circle B Bar Reserve from last Wednesday.  I love to try to catch them as they run across the water.  I got several good frames from this one, so I stitched them together in Photoshop to show the full trajectory.


Mirror, Mirror, in the Lake…Who’s the Most Handsome Drake?

Mirror, Mirror, in the Lake…Who’s the Most Handsome Drake? - January 2012

Wednesday was a frigid morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve. The forecast had predicted a low of 29 at 7am, but my car's thermometer was more optimistic, measuring 34. There was very little wind, and I was quite comfortable all bundled up in my old college coat. I made my way out to the Wading Bird Way trail in anticipation of a gorgeous sunrise. I was met by fog, …Read More


Circle B Bar Reserve is Pretty Quiet These Days

Circle B Bar Reserve is Pretty Quiet These Days - January 2012

Last Friday, my dad and I headed to the Circle B Bar Reserve for the first time in several weeks. We decided to hike the Alligator Alley trail, where I had seen several Painted Buntings on my previous visit. But we were rather disappointed. We saw the usual herons and egrets, and a couple of small pelican flocks flying over Lake Hancock, but that was it. We spent most of …Read More


Circle B Photo Walks Cancelled For the Rest of the Spring

Circle B Photo Walks Cancelled For the Rest of the Spring - December 2011

With regret, I will be cancelling the remainder of the Circle B Photo Walks for the season. My work has been consuming every waking moment, and I find that I can no longer dedicate the time to our photo walks. I hope to resume them next year. If you were considering attending one, you might want to attend a walk led by the Lake Region Audubon Society instead. They are …Read More


December Photo Walk at Circle B Bar Reserve

December Photo Walk at Circle B Bar Reserve - December 2011

My dad and I held the December photo walk at Circle B Bar Reserve this weekend. We were joined by Dick and Emi, a wonderfully enthusiastic couple, as well as my husband and in-laws who were visiting from Texas. We walked the Heron Hideout trail, Marsh Rabbit Run trail up to the Wading Bird Way trail. Although Circle B is not as active as it was last year, there are …Read More


Painted Bunting at the Circle B Bar Reserve!

Painted Bunting at the Circle B Bar Reserve! - December 2011

It turned out to be a beautiful morning to be at the Circle B Bar Reserve. The forecast predicted some clouds, so I decided to hike the Alligator Alley trail, which I haven't done in a while. Sunrise over Lake Hancock was pretty, as always (and the forecasters were wrong - the clouds didn't come until later!) Alligator Alley was pretty quiet. I saw some gulls, including my first Ring-Billed …Read More


Even an Icky Day is Good at Circle B Bar Reserve

Even an Icky Day is Good at Circle B Bar Reserve - November 2011

I almost decided not to go to the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning. The forecast predicted a mostly cloudy morning, and the cloud cover over our house at 6am was thick. But I didn't want to miss my last vacation opportunity to go to Circle B, so I went anyway. My dad likes to say that Circle B never disappoints, and today was no exception. I heard my first …Read More


My First Bufflehead at the Circle B Bar Reserve

My First Bufflehead at the Circle B Bar Reserve - November 2011

Dyeyo and I spent a nice morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve a few days ago. I can't believe our Thanksgiving Week is almost over. It feels like it's lasted only one day! The marsh continues to be covered in pretty yellow flowers, called Burr Marigolds. I had only taken the Beast, so Dyeyo lent me his wide-angle lens to take some landscape shots. We hiked the Heron Hideout …Read More


Sunrise with a Sora – Circle B Bar Reserve

Sunrise with a Sora – Circle B Bar Reserve - November 2011

I spent a very pleasant morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve yesterday morning.  I arrived about half an hour before sunrise and made my way out to the Wading Bird Way trail.  It's one of my favorite sunrise locations on the reserve.   I like to watch the sun peek out from over the trees covered in birds, then I turn around and photograph the birds in flight in the …Read More


Yellow Flowers at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Yellow Flowers at the Circle B Bar Reserve - November 2011

The two questions that I hear most often about Circle B are 1) When do the white pelicans arrive? and 2) When do the yellow flowers bloom? Well, I'm pleased to report that the answers to both questions are NOW! :) Several people have reported pelican fly-overs in the past week, and the marsh is all abloom with the burr marigolds. It's a great time to visit the reserve! I …Read More


Flyin’ High

Flyin’ High - November 2011

These Blue-Winged Teals were some of the many that flew over Circle B's Wading Bird Way trail last Sunday at dawn.


Which One Does Not Belong?

Which One Does Not Belong? - November 2011

Last weekend at Circle B, a lone Redhead Duck hung out in a pack of American Coots.


My First Northern Harrier

My First Northern Harrier - November 2011

I got my first shot of a Northern Harrier at Circle B this weekend.  It's not particularly well exposed, but it's my proof – I saw him!


Flight Shots at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Flight Shots at the Circle B Bar Reserve - November 2011

Yesterday (Sunday) was a great morning for flight shots at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  The sunrise was pretty, then the birds were flying from the lake on Wading Bird Way across the trail towards Lake Hancock.  I saw Blue-Winged Teals, Green-Winged Teals, Gadwalls, American Wigeons, Northern Shovelers, and Mottled Ducks. The American Coots are by far the most common bird out on the lakes right now.  I always enjoy …Read More


So Many Pictures, So Little Time…

So Many Pictures, So Little Time… - November 2011

I had a great morning at Circle B. The sunrise over the trees was spectacular, and the duck fly-overs gave me lots of flight shot practice. I'll post more tomorrow, but here's a teaser image…


A Great Morning to be Outside at the Circle B Bar Reserve

A Great Morning to be Outside at the Circle B Bar Reserve - November 2011

It was cool and a little breezy this morning, and it felt so good to get up early and go see some "golden light!"  The Beast and I made our first trip to Circle B in several weeks.  Some ducks have settled in, but not as many as I seem to remember from last year.  The wading birds aren't as plentiful, either.  But there are tons of little birds!  I …Read More


Circle B Sunrise

Circle B Sunrise - November 2011

A great sunrise from Circle B a few weeks ago…


Calling All Birds and People to Circle B Photo Walks

Calling All Birds and People to Circle B Photo Walks - November 2011

Our Circle B Photo Walk schedule has been updated. The November walk was cancelled due to Thanksgiving. The December walk was moved to December 10. The songbird migrants have returned to Circle B for the winter, and the ducks are starting to arrive!  My dad and I invite you to join us for a walk around the reserve, and we'll show you our favorite birding locations and give you some …Read More


Another One from Circle B

Another One from Circle B - November 2011

A Queen butterfly posed for me last weekend at the Circle B Bar Reserve.


Hello, Zorro!

Hello, Zorro! - November 2011

This Common Yellowthroat posed for me recently at Circle B.  I like to call these guys "Zorro" because of their black masks.  They are some of my favorite winter visitors.


The Sun Finally Came out at the Circle B Bar Reserve

The Sun Finally Came out at the Circle B Bar Reserve - October 2011

After a long weekend of rain, the morning started out cloudy at the Circle B Bar Reserve. I set up The Beast on the Heron Hideout trail and positioned myself in the flight path of the Bald Eagles who were flying in circles over the marsh, retrieving nesting material and taking it back to their tree by the lake. I dialed in exposure compensation and used my flash with Better …Read More


Turtle

Turtle - October 2011

I got in trouble with my turtle-loving husband when I didn't post the picture of the turtle that I took at Circle B on Saturday. So here's the turtle. Isn't he cute? He looks like he's going sliding on the water.


I Love This Time of Year at Circle B!

I Love This Time of Year at Circle B! - October 2011

I spent Sunday morning with The Beast at the Circle B Bar Reserve. It was hard to decide whether to head out to the marsh to catch the Bald Eagles flying with nesting material, or head to the lake to see the bobcat. The cloudless skies and great morning light made me decide on the marsh. I didn't get many views of the eagles, but I did enjoy the time …Read More


Winter Birds are Returning to the Circle B Bar Reserve

Winter Birds are Returning to the Circle B Bar Reserve - October 2011

Yesterday (Saturday) was the October photo hike at the Circle B Bar Reserve. My dad and I led three enthusiastic birders around the trails at the reserve. Last year our walks were big and we had a wide variety of birding/photography skill levels. This year our walks have been very small, and today's group of experienced birders was a treat. We hiked the Heron Hideout trail, Marsh Rabbit Run trail, …Read More


Tip for Photographing Little Birds in Leafy Trees

Tip for Photographing Little Birds in Leafy Trees - October 2011

I photographed this White-Eyed Vireo this weekend on the Alligator Alley trail of the Circle B Bar Reserve. I used fill flash to illuminate him deep within a tree. I recently started training myself to use a new technique for focusing on these little birds who love to flit in and out of small trees. Using autofocus can be challenging, as the camera often chooses the leaf or branch in …Read More


Even Common Birds are Pretty

Even Common Birds are Pretty - October 2011

I photographed this juvenile Red-Winged Blackbird at the Circle B Bar Reserve this weekend. It was a cloudy morning, so I was glad to have my flash with me. I really like how his brown tones contrast with the green vegetation and purple flowers around him.


Cuckoo Pose

Cuckoo Pose - October 2011

I forgot to post the Yellow-Billed Cuckoo picture in my blog post Cuckoos Chasing Cuckoos from this weekend. Oops! So here's the bird that caused several photographers to follow him up and down the Marsh Rabbit Run trail. He likes to bury himself in trees with lots of leaves, so I was very surprised when he hopped out onto a dead tree and posed for a few seconds. Too bad …Read More


Welcome Back, Palm Warblers

Welcome Back, Palm Warblers - October 2011

The Palm Warblers have been back for several weeks now, but between rainy weather and work, this weekend was my first opportunity to take a decent photograph of one. This one was hopping around in a tree on the Marsh Rabbit Run trail at the Circle B Bar Reserve. It's such fun to hear the calls of the little birds on the trails again.


Cloudy Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Cloudy Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - October 2011

I think the weather forecasters were a little overly optimistic this morning when they predicted "partly sunny" for 8am. I called it "mostly cloudy!" I was glad that I didn't go to the Circle B Bar Reserve for sunrise, because there wasn't one. The light levels were pretty low all morning. But it was great to see friends, and there is always something to see at Circle B. The American …Read More


Races and Bobcats at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Races and Bobcats at the Circle B Bar Reserve - October 2011

Dyeyo and I were excited to go to the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning after all the good birds that I saw there yesterday.  Until we saw the clouds.  And the runners.  There were hundreds of people gathered this morning to run a 5K race right up and down the trails.  Dyeyo and I spotted a Sora before the race began, but the runners scared it off.  It was …Read More


Cuckoos Chasing Cuckoos at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Cuckoos Chasing Cuckoos at the Circle B Bar Reserve - October 2011

It was a gorgeous morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  The temperatures were cool, there was a little breeze, and the winter birds are coming back.  The Belted Kingfishers were posed on the power lines at the entrance to the reserve, and within a few minutes of parking, I'd located my first of fall (FOF) House Wren, Eastern Phoebe, and Gray Catbirds.  The reserve was chirping with the sound …Read More


Three Generations

Three Generations - October 2011

The days are getting shorter and I'm getting home later and later…not a good combination for new "In the Backyard" shots. Luckily I still have some fun pictures from Circle B last weekend to share. I think it's supposed to rain most of the weekend. Sad news for photographers! This is a family of Common Moohens - I mean, Common Gallinules — from Circle B last week. I thought it …Read More


Sunrise Clouds

Sunrise Clouds - October 2011

This is an HDR image of the sunrise at Circle B last Friday morning. I enjoyed photographing the light in the clouds until I saw the baby Limpkins emerge. That distracted me until after the sun was high in the sky! :)


One For Rich

One For Rich - October 2011

I've been hearing complaints about the lack of turtle posts. So here's a turtle from the Circle B Bar Reserve this weekend!


Soaring into the Sunrise

Soaring into the Sunrise - October 2011

Last Friday morning the sunrise at Circle B was very cloudy and not particularly interesting, so the Beast and I focused on the flying birds and making silhouettes. I tried to catch the birds as they had interesting wing angles and as they flew against the orangey colors of the sunrise. Then in Photoshop, I used the Levels tool to color the birds black and to lighten the sky to …Read More


Redstarts and Warblers and Buntings, Oh My!

Redstarts and Warblers and Buntings, Oh My! - October 2011

The cold front moved through and brought not only cooler temperatures, but lots of migrant birds!  I spent a very nice morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve with Dyeyo.  We chased lots of little birds and ended up with a pretty good migrant count, including an Indigo Bunting!! :) We hiked the Heron Hideout trail, Marsh Rabbit Run trail, and Wading Bird Way trail this morning.  We hadn't been …Read More


Another Morning at the Circle B Water Slide

Another Morning at the Circle B Water Slide - September 2011

I spent my off-Friday morning with the baby Limpkins at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I headed out to the Wading Bird Way trail at sunrise.  There were too many clouds for an impressive sunrise, but as I watched the light rising, I heard the baby Limpkins.  I watched and waited, and within fifteen minutes they had left the cover of their bushes and emerged onto the trail.  I spent …Read More


Birds Grow up So Quickly!

Birds Grow up So Quickly! - September 2011

We had our first photo walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning.  It was a small group, but we had a nice walk.  We saw our first-of-fall Common Yellowthroats, and I'm pretty sure I heard several other warblers, but the mosquitoes were thick and we didn't linger to watch them.  We found the baby Limpkins out on the Wading Bird Way trail, and wow, they have gotten bigger!  …Read More


Christmas in September?

Christmas in September? - September 2011

I'm looking forward to our first photo walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve tomorrow morning.  So here's yet another shot from a recent Circle B outing.  I took this from the Wading Bird Way trail at sunrise, on a morning when the sun shone through the fog and illuminated the marsh.  I love how the Wood Storks come back to Circle B at the end of the summer and …Read More


Order Matters

Order Matters - September 2011

Lately I've been playing with Photomatix and HDR.  I went back to a sunrise panorama that I did at Lake Hancock at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  Each portion of the panorama was bracketed for HDR.  When I first processed it with Photoshop, I did the HDR on each frame individually, taking care to apply the same settings to each frame.  When I stitched them together as a panorama, the …Read More


Twins?

Twins? - September 2011

Lots of people at the Circle B Bar Reserve this weekend commented that the famous baby Limpkins look a lot like baby Sandhill Cranes.  They do!  The colors are different, but the size, beak size, and general shapes of the babies are quite similar.  I hunted up some Sandhill colt pictures from April to compare… The babies are my favorites to photograph!!! :)


HDR Tip

HDR Tip - September 2011

This sunrise HDR image was created at the Circle B Bar Reserve on Saturday morning.  I had already taken so many shots of the sunrise and the sun was pretty high in the sky.  But before I switched to the Beast for bird shots, I took one final shot of the sun and surrounding clouds.  I wasn't sure if I would like it without any land in the picture to …Read More


Awesome Morning with the Baby Limpkins at CBBR

Awesome Morning with the Baby Limpkins at CBBR - September 2011

I had an awesome morning yesterday (Saturday) at the Circle B Bar Reserve with my dad and Michael Libbe.  We had a great sunrise and then spent some quality time with the baby Limpkins on the Wading Bird Way trail. :) The sunrise was beautiful.  We arrived on Wading Bird Way about 10 minutes before sunrise, and we stood watching as the sun peeked out over the tops of the …Read More


Expect the Unexpected at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Expect the Unexpected at the Circle B Bar Reserve - September 2011

I went to the Circle B Bar Reserve yesterday (Friday) in hopes of a gorgeous sunrise with sun beams bursting through the clouds and reflecting over Lake Hancock.  I came home with images of a fireball and baby Limpkins!  Such is a morning at CBBR.  You never know what you'll find out there. I arrived about half an hour before sunrise, and I headed down to Lake Hancock.  As I …Read More


Into the Rising Sun

Into the Rising Sun - September 2011

Work interfered with photography on this off-Friday, but I did manage to get to Circle B for a few hours this morning. I won't have my full blog post ready till tomorrow, so here's a teaser image of a flock of Blue-Winged Teals at sunrise over Lake Hancock. They are my first Blue-Winged Teals of the fall. Migration is so exciting, and a fireball sunrise is an added bonus! :) …Read More


Fun with HDR

Fun with HDR - September 2011

Long after the sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve on Sunday, I noticed a single cloud high in the sky that still had sunrise coloration to it. I thought it was pretty, and I took some bracketed shots for HDR. I didn't realize how vibrant the colors would turn out! HDR can be quite fun. :)


Early Migrants at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Early Migrants at the Circle B Bar Reserve - September 2011

You know that the hot summer is coming to a close at the Circle B Bar Reserve when you start seeing the first Pied-Billed Grebes on the Wading Bird Way trail.  Although grebes are year-round residents in Polk, I don't seem to see them until the very end of summer.  The same goes for the Caspian Terns.  So it was exciting to see both yesterday at the reserve.  The winter …Read More


Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve - September 2011

This morning the sunrise made up for the icky cloudy day yesterday.  I arrived at the Circle B Bar Reserve well before sunrise.  Unfortunately I arrived at the Wading Bird Way trail about 15 minutes too late to photograph the setting moon, which was beautiful as I watched it driving across I-4.  But I did arrive with plenty of time to watch the sun as it began to peek up …Read More


Photographers Flock Back to Circle B Bar Reserve

Photographers Flock Back to Circle B Bar Reserve - September 2011

The temperatures were a bit cooler at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning, and the photographers and the migrant birds alike have begun to return to the reserve.  Dyeyo and I hiked the Marsh Rabbit Run trail, Wading Bird Way trail, and Alligator Alley trail this morning in search of migrant warblers.  Unfortunately, the cloudy morning was not conducive to good birding or photography.  We did find a Prairie …Read More


Sunrise HDR

Sunrise HDR - August 2011

The weather has been so hot that I've been spending less time outside and more time playing with post-processing. I've rediscovered HDR recently when I began experimenting with Photomatix Pro instead of Photoshop for HDR. I'd always read that Photoshop wasn't quite as good, and now I'm starting to see why. Here's my HDR image of a sunrise at Circle B from this past weekend. And here are the three …Read More


Slow motion: Turtles

Slow motion: Turtles - August 2011

Friends often ask why our website is called "catandturtle" when most of my photographs are of birds. Well, I've always been a cat lover, and Rich has grown up with an obsession for turtles. Actually, it was our cat Goldilocks who started watching birds, and got us interested in them… So when I come back from photographing, Rich always asks if I've seen any turtles. Too often I have to …Read More


First of Season Warblers at CBBR!

First of Season Warblers at CBBR! - August 2011

How are kitten care and warbler photography alike? Neither subject will stay still! This morning I enjoyed an off-Friday sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I saw my first warblers of the season!  Two Yellow Warblers and one Prairie Warbler spent a pleasant 15 minutes posing for me in the top of a tree on the Marsh Rabbit Run trail.  I know shorebird migration has been underway for about …Read More


Herman Found His Cuckoo!

Herman Found His Cuckoo! - August 2011

…except he went looking for a bird called a cuckoo, not a cuckoo photographer! He posted this picture of me with The Beast that is getting some chuckles on Flickr. Check it out! Show-Off - Hand-holding the Beast


Quiet Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Quiet Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - August 2011

Herman made me go back to the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning after he posted a picture of a Ruby-throated Hummingbird on Flickr.  I took the Beast and set up in front of the Morning Glory vines where he saw the bird.  I waited about a half hour, but no hummers came.  So I took a picture of where the hummer should have been! (Note:  Someone else stood watching …Read More


Yellow-Billed Cuckoo on Marsh Rabbit Run!

Yellow-Billed Cuckoo on Marsh Rabbit Run! - August 2011

The Marsh Rabbit Run trail was finally re-opened!  I went to the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning and found my very first Yellow-Billed Cuckoo!  I couldn't believe it when he flew into a tree right over my head.  He was on Marsh Rabbit Run, about halfway down the trail.  It felt so good to be back on that trail! The water levels are low and there were not a …Read More


The Eagle has Landed at CBBR

The Eagle has Landed at CBBR - July 2011

The Bald Eagle has returned to his nest on the sandhill at the Circle B Bar Reserve!  I was very happy to hear him and then confirm that he was sitting just above the nest. It's been almost a month since Dyeyo and I went to Circle B, so we were both excited to get back there today.  We arrived at 6:30 and headed to the Wading Bird Way trail …Read More


Baby Birds Take Flight at Circle B Bar Reserve

Baby Birds Take Flight at Circle B Bar Reserve - July 2011

It was a slow start to the morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I pulled up to the main gate at 6:30, hoping to catch the sunrise.  But the gate was closed!  All I could think was "I drove an hour to get here and it's closed!?!?"  As Dyeyo and I chatted about where to go instead, the security guy drove up and opened the gate.  :) We hiked …Read More


Why Did the Purple Gallinule Cross the Trail at Circle B Bar Reserve?

Why Did the Purple Gallinule Cross the Trail at Circle B Bar Reserve? - June 2011

To see if the water level on the other side was higher!  It wasn't… I've never seen the water levels at Circle B Bar Reserve this low.  We hiked the Wading Bird Way trail this morning.  We got there at sunrise and got in two hours of photography before the rains drove us away.  It's a good thing that CBBR is getting some rain – it needs it very badly.  …Read More


A Squirrel-ly Anniversary Message

A Squirrel-ly Anniversary Message - June 2011

Dyeyo and I spotted these, um, friendly squirrels at the Circle B Bar Reserve on Saturday.  They made me chuckle and think of Rich's and my anniversary.  So here's an anniversary message from the squirrels… Keep your partner looking his best.  (I've never seen squirrels preening each others' tails!) Lend a hand at every opportunity. When life gets tough, stick together and help each other hold on. Be cute and …Read More


Hummers and Cuckoos at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Hummers and Cuckoos at the Circle B Bar Reserve - June 2011

Yes, that's right, we saw a hummingbird at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning!  I didn't get a picture—those guys move fast!  I couldn't see it for long enough to tell what kind of hummer, either, although I assume it was a Ruby-Throated Hummingbird.  But it was most definitely a hummer!  Dyeyo and I saw him on the Alligator Alley trail just past the dock.  He flew across the …Read More


Knock, Knock! Goes the Pileated Woodpecker at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Knock, Knock! Goes the Pileated Woodpecker at the Circle B Bar Reserve - May 2011

It was a good morning for baby birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I spent about an hour watching the Osprey nest on the Heron Hideout trail.  Then I moved on to the Alligator Alley trail, where I photographed the Red-Shouldered Hawk Nest.  The Northern Parulas taunted me but didn't let me see them.  Then Dennis showed me the best nest of the morning: there's a Pileated Woodpecker on …Read More


Summer Heat Begins at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Summer Heat Begins at the Circle B Bar Reserve - May 2011

It was hot this morning!  We arrived at the Circle B Bar Reserve at 7:00 and hiked the Alligator Alley trail loop.  This Great Blue Heron was trying to cool himself with the funky wing position – he wasn't the only one who was hot! We checked on the Great Crested Flycatcher nest by the Nature Center.  A very tolerant flycatcher let us get pretty close to him as he …Read More


Turtles from the Circle B Bar Reserve

Turtles from the Circle B Bar Reserve - May 2011

Every afternoon when I get home from the Circle B Bar Reserve, Rich pounces on me and asks for pictures of turtles.  Usually I haven't seen many, or gotten great photo ops of the ones that I do see.  So this weekend when I came across a small turtle making its way across the Heron Hideout trail, Rich decided that this turtle deserved his own post.  After all, the site …Read More


Bobolink-less Morning at Circle B Bar Reserve

Bobolink-less Morning at Circle B Bar Reserve - May 2011

Dyeyo and I went to the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning in search of Bobolinks.  These migratory birds can only be found at Circle B for a couple of weeks a year, in the spring during their migration back north.  Various people on the Circle B Flickr page have seen Bobolinks, and Dyeyo found a whole flock of them last year, but I've never seen one.  Unfortunately the fog …Read More


Mothers and Babies at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Mothers and Babies at the Circle B Bar Reserve - May 2011

Happy Mother's Day!  Dyeyo and I spent a few hours at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning before going to spend some time with my mom.  It seemed appropriate that we saw a bunch of baby birds with their moms today.  :) We hiked the Alligator Alley loop this morning, starting just after sunrise.  Dyeyo had to try out his new lens on the hawk's nest that is very …Read More


More Baby Birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve

More Baby Birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve - April 2011

This morning started out slow at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  We're getting into the time of year when there are fewer birds at the reserve, and you don't get as many great photo ops as you do during the winter.  But I find that the baby birds are just as fun to photograph as the migrants…if you know where to look to find them! :) We started out just …Read More


Circle B Says Goodbye to its Winter Migrants and Hello to the Summer Residents

Circle B Says Goodbye to its Winter Migrants and Hello to the Summer Residents - April 2011

I spent a quiet off-Friday morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning.  It's always a treat to be on the trails without the weekend crowds.  I started off on the Heron Hideout trail to say hello to the little Sandhill Crane, then I turned left onto the Alligator Alley trail and hiked that loop back to the Nature Center.  It was a nice breezy morning and it felt …Read More


In Search of Babies at Circle B Bar Reserve

In Search of Babies at Circle B Bar Reserve - April 2011

Dyeyo and I went to the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning on a quest to find baby birds.  The adorable Sandhill Crane colt that met us on the Heron Hideout trail was just the first.  We figured that the Barred Owlet had already fledged, so we headed out to Wading Bird Way in search of the Limpkin babies and Mottled Duck babies that someone mentioned to us.  We didn't …Read More


The Newest Celebrity at the Circle B Bar Reserve

The Newest Celebrity at the Circle B Bar Reserve - April 2011

This winter the American Bittern and the King Rail were the stars at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  This spring, the Sandhill Crane colt that frequents the Heron Hideout trail is quickly becoming the newest celebrity at the park. This morning I met Michael Libbe at sunrise and we found the Sandhill Crane family out in the grasses a few yards from the Heron Hideout trail.  Then they moved up …Read More


Foggy but Interesting Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Foggy but Interesting Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2011

Wow it was foggy this morning!  It was all clear as I left Orlando, but the fog started when I hit I-4, and the Polk Parkway was crazy with fog.  So I wasn't anticipating seeing too much this morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I'm glad I was wrong!  We saw tons of birds. The Red-Winged Blackbirds must be beginning to nest.  The males are displaying and calling from …Read More


March Photo Walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve

March Photo Walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2011

Today my dad and I led the final spring photo walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  We had a very foggy morning, and due to the closing of the Marsh Rabbit Run trail, we took the group on the Alligator Alley trail.  Between the fog and the reduced number of birds along Alligator Alley, I was worried that this would not be a very successful walk.  However, it turned …Read More


Sunset Bobcat at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Sunset Bobcat at the Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2011

I went over to the Circle B Bar Reserve after work today to catch the sunset.  The good news?  I saw the bobcat for the first time ever!!  The bad news?  The Marsh Rabbit Run trail is now closed because the alligators are very active.  There's a freaky sequence of pictures on the Circle B Flickr site showing a heron stealing a baby alligator and the mother gator following the …Read More


Frogs and Snakes for Breakfast at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Frogs and Snakes for Breakfast at the Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2011

I spent my off-Friday morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I arrived at 6:30, about 20 minutes before sunrise.  I hiked down to Lake Hancock and was on the dock for the sunrise.  It was pretty cloudy this morning, so the sun was a little late peeking out from behind the clouds.  It was pretty though.  I spent some time photographing birds flying over the lake, then hiked the …Read More


Turtle!

Turtle! - March 2011

Rich gets annoyed at me for not posting more pictures of turtles.  After all, our site is called "catandturtle" because I like cats and he likes turtles!  Then I did post a video of a turtle, but Rich refuses to watch it, because the turtle was being consumed by a Limpkin.  So here's a Rich-friendly turtle…


February Photo Walk at Circle B Bar Reserve

February Photo Walk at Circle B Bar Reserve - February 2011

This morning my dad and I led another Photo Walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve. Circle B asked us to lead people around the preserve, showing them the best trails and places to find birds. Today we had about ten or so people meet us at 8:00 (remember, photographers have to be up early to catch the early birds getting their worms!) We walked the Heron Hideout and Marsh …Read More


You Know it’s Springtime at Circle B Bar Reserve if…

You Know it’s Springtime at Circle B Bar Reserve if… - February 2011

You know it's springtime at Circle B Bar Reserve if you see the following: Trees are getting their leaves back Sandhill Cranes start sitting on nests! Baby eagles peek out to say hello People flock to the marsh to enjoy the warm weather The ducks head back home — see you next year! The birds start sporting their breeding colors Earlier sunrises! Male cardinals sing for their "wives! wives! wives!" …Read More


Circle B Bar Reserve Woodpecker

Circle B Bar Reserve Woodpecker - February 2011

I forgot to post a video that I took yesterday at the Circle B Bar Reserve. There is a Red-Bellied Woodpecker that lives in a dead tree at the "Four Corners" intersection. He often poses, showing off his bright red feathers in the sunshine. Yesterday he was working on his cavity, drilling away at it. I hope he's thinking about having a brood of babies to fill it! It's a …Read More


Finally!  I Photographed a Painted Bunting at the Circle B Bar Reserve!

Finally! I Photographed a Painted Bunting at the Circle B Bar Reserve! - February 2011

I had a nice walk this morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve. It's always great to go there to unwind after a long week. This morning I hiked the Alligator Alley trail in search of small birds, then I walked up Marsh Rabbit Run and up Wading Bird Way around to the Eagle Roost trail, where I observed the eagle's nest. So the big question of the day…is there …Read More


Spring is in the Air at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Spring is in the Air at the Circle B Bar Reserve - February 2011

  It's amazing how different a place can look after two weeks.  The weather kept me from Circle B last weekend, and I think it's driven a lot of the birds away too.  The ponds that used to be covered in American Coots and American Wigeons were virtually empty.  Not an American White Pelican did we see.  I counted a lone Wood Stork.  Only the Sandhill Cranes roosted as usual, …Read More


Blue-Headed Vireo at Circle B Bar Reserve

Blue-Headed Vireo at Circle B Bar Reserve - February 2011

Ever since Cole Fredericks, a noted birdwatcher in Central Florida, commented in the Circle B Flickr species list discussion that the list was missing Orange-Crowned Warblers and Blue-Headed Vireos, I've been on the lookout for those birds. Last week I got the Orange-Crowned Warbler. I've gone up and down Alligator Alley several times in search of the vireo, but not seen it. So imagine my surprise when I flipped through …Read More


History of a Pelican

History of a Pelican - February 2011

A few weeks ago, I took a short video of a group of American White Pelicans feeding at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I thought it was cool because you could see them tossing fish in their mouths, and see the fish bulging out of their pouches as they ate. When I got home, I noticed that at least one (maybe two?) of the birds had green markings on their …Read More


My First Orange-Crowned Warbler at the Circle B Bar Reserve

My First Orange-Crowned Warbler at the Circle B Bar Reserve - January 2011

It was an incredibly foggy morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve. I could barely make out the car in front of me as I drove in. But it turned out to be a great day for little birds. We saw a ton of warblers: Orange-Crowned, Black-and-White, Palm, Prairie, Yellow-Throated, Yellow-Rumped, Common Yellowthroat, and several Ruby-Crowned Kinglets. Overall I saw over 50 species, not bad for a foggy day!! Dyeyo …Read More


Hoodies at the Circle B Bar Reserve!

Hoodies at the Circle B Bar Reserve! - January 2011

Dyeyo and I were at the Circle B Bar Reserve at dawn this morning. It was a bit chilly at first, but it felt so great to be outside! The fog obscured the sunrise a bit, which turned out to be good, since I got this picture as a result: We hiked the Heron Hideout trail, then took Marsh Rabbit Run out to Wading Bird Way. There were tons of …Read More


Lions and Bitterns and Rails, Oh My!   Circle B Bar Reserve Never Disappoints

Lions and Bitterns and Rails, Oh My! Circle B Bar Reserve Never Disappoints - January 2011

A group of photographers met at the Circle B Bar Reserve for sunrise this morning. We had a blast. Circle B really is a photographer's playground at this time of year! Dyeyo and I parked at the parking lot at the Circle B entrance, then took the Windmill Whisper trail out to Wading Bird Way. The southern half of Wading Bird Way is my second favorite sunrise spot in the …Read More


The Bird Paparazzi Grows at Circle B Bar Reserve

The Bird Paparazzi Grows at Circle B Bar Reserve - January 2011

There were TONS of people at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning! Despite the chilly and breezy weather, over a hundred birders were out to enjoy the morning. Dyeyo and I decided to hike along Alligator Alley to look for Orange-Crowned Warblers and Blue-Headed Vireos. We hoped for a nice sunrise over the lake, too, but it was so overcast that the sun stayed behind the clouds for a …Read More


Circle B Sunset in HDR Panorama

Circle B Sunset in HDR Panorama - January 2011

Last Saturday's sunset at Circle B was so colorful! I took bracketed exposures for HDR, then after I created the HDR images, I stitched them together into a panorama using Photoshop.  Now I have a "virtual window" for my cubicle…


King Rail at Sunset at the Circle B Bar Reserve

King Rail at Sunset at the Circle B Bar Reserve - January 2011

I saw my first-ever King Rail at the Circle B Reserve tonight. I went for a sunset walk before the Lake Region Audubon Society meeting, where Fred Bassett gave an excellent talk about hummingbirds that winter in Florida. There were plenty of people out to enjoy the sunset, including a nice couple of saw me watching the rail and then asked, "Are there any bitterns around? That would be a …Read More


Bittern-ly Chilly Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Bittern-ly Chilly Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - January 2011

Bitterns were the highlight this morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve. I arrived at sunrise, and the cloudcover was much greater than the weatherman's "Mostly Sunny" forecast. The sun shone on the landscape for about fifteen minutes, then it went behind clouds for most of the "golden light hour." I didn't hike as much as usual, opting instead to stalk specific birds, especially the Sora on Heron Hideout and …Read More


Another Great Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Another Great Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve - January 2011

Dyeyo and I tried something a little different this morning.  We arrived at the Circle B Bar Reserve about fifteen minutes before sunrise, and we parked in the lot right at the entrance to the reserve.  Then we hiked out to Wading Bird Way on the Windmill Whisper trail.  We got to the crossroads right at sunrise. I enjoy doing HDR at sunrise because of all the varying tones.  The …Read More


Circle B Bar Reserve: the Photographer’s Playground!

Circle B Bar Reserve: the Photographer’s Playground! - January 2011

My dad and I had a great time this morning doing a "photo hike" at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  We'd like to say thanks to the dozen or so brave people who came out early at 8:00 and braved the winds to see the birds.  We enjoyed the time, and we hope that everybody else did too.  Our group ranged in age from about 8 (hi Savannah!) to retirement …Read More


Sunrise over Lake Hancock at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Sunrise over Lake Hancock at the Circle B Bar Reserve -

We scheduled this morning's photo hike to start at 8, recognizing that that was early for most people.  But for me, that's late!  I arrived at Circle B at around 6:45 and hiked down to the lake to meet the sunrise.  I was happy to see that the lake wasn't all stinky with decaying fish (I was concerned that there was a fish kill with last week's cold weather.) As …Read More


Tips for Photographing Birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Tips for Photographing Birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve -

Join Us for a Nature Hike at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  Bring your DSLR, your point-and-shoot, or just yourself, and join us for a morning's walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve. My dad and I will share some of our favorite birding locations and photography tips. Meet outside the Nature Discovery Center on Saturday, January 8, at 8:00am so that we catch the early birds! All ages and …Read More


Bitterns Saying Hello at Circle B Bar Reserve

Bitterns Saying Hello at Circle B Bar Reserve - January 2011

I headed to the Circle B Bar Reserve on my off-Friday determined to remember to check the eagle's nest next to the Nature Center.  I always seem to forget to walk over and check it on my way out! As I arrived at the nest, I saw one Bald Eagle sitting on it.  Another eagle was perched in a nearby tree.  I got a few shots before the bird on …Read More


A Circle B HDR Example

A Circle B HDR Example - January 2011

I've been enjoying have the HDR capabilities of Photoshop CS5.  I'm no expert in HDR, and I'm learning how to adjust the controls so that the pictures look good.  I don't try for the over-the-top color effects of some HDR photos, but instead just enjoy the additional dynamic range and color tones that make my pictures "pop."  Here's an HDR that I took a week or so ago at Circle …Read More


Lots of People Enjoying the Circle B Bar Reserve

Lots of People Enjoying the Circle B Bar Reserve - December 2010

Lots of people decided say goodbye to 2010 with a visit to the Circle B Bar Reserve.  I've never seen so many people there in a morning.  It was fun to finally meet Herman and a bunch of people from the Circle B Flickr group. I took "The Beast" and had a fun time getting used to my new focal length.  I can now photograph and identify birds that I …Read More


Frosty Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Frosty Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - December 2010

It was probably not a good morning to be a bird at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  The temperature was around 28 when I arrived at 7:30 in the morning.  The ground was covered in frost.  Skies normally covered in American White Pelicans were empty.  But it was pretty in an eerie way, and by mid-morning, the frost was gone and the birds were back. I enjoyed experimenting with HDR …Read More


A Circle B Christmas

A Circle B Christmas - December 2010

Santa arrived early at the Circle B Bar Reserve today, bringing  plenty of insects and nuts for the birds for Christmas.  His reindeer are not fond of Florida weather, so the American White Pelicans volunteered to help him fly his sleigh! Santa cartoon courtesy of  Microsoft Office Clipart


Skies Full of American White Pelicans at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Skies Full of American White Pelicans at the Circle B Bar Reserve - December 2010

The skies of the Circle B Bar Reserve were covered in American White Pelicans this morning.  We arrived at sunrise and stayed till about 11:30.  During that whole time, wave after wave of pelicans flew in.  They must be powered by Energizer…they just keep coming, and coming, and coming! This morning we walked up Heron Hideout, Marsh Rabbit Run, Wading Bird Way, then doubled back and took the Shady Oak …Read More


Beautiful Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Beautiful Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - December 2010

It was a gorgeous morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  We arrived at 7:00, just before sunrise, and the birds put on an amazing wake-up show.  The hundreds of Wood Storks and Sand Hill Cranes that roost in the marsh overnight all woke up and flew away, nicely illuminated by the rising sun.  They shared the skies with hundreds of American White Pelicans, flying towards their roosting site on …Read More


Circle B Sunset Cranes

Circle B Sunset Cranes - December 2010

On Thursday afternoon I took two fun pictures at Circle B: one of Sandhill Cranes flying against the sunset sky, and another of the sunset landscape.  Then I combined the two pictures in Photoshop Elements.  I think the composition is fun…as long as I admit to the Photoshopping! Here are the two original images:


What’s Going On Up There?

What’s Going On Up There? - December 2010

There were plenty of birds in the skies this afternoon at the Circle B Bar Reserve! I got there around 3:30 and hiked Heron Hideout, Marsh Rabbit Run, and Wading Bird Way.  The American White Pelicans are back and roosting on the water at Wading Bird Way!  Yay! When I first arrived, the skies above the parking lot were filled with Turkey Vultures.  There had to have been at least …Read More


Cranes and Pelicans and a Circle B Sunset

Cranes and Pelicans and a Circle B Sunset - December 2010

Dyeyo and I went for a quick walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve this afternoon. I've been wanting to photograph one of our spectacular golden sunsets that we've been having lately, but tonight's wasn't like that. It was pretty, though. I waited for the sun to start going behind a cloud, then took this picture. I should have added a split neutral density filter. So I used Lightroom to …Read More


Sunny Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Sunny Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - December 2010

My in-laws are visiting this weekend, and Rich and I took them for a walk to the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning. We were welcomed by some Killdeer on the Heron Hideout trail. This is my first sharp Killdeer picture, and I was excited to get it. :) A hawk was watching us from the "treasure tree" as we headed up Heron Hideout. We had fun watching an alligator …Read More


Chased by an Otter at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Chased by an Otter at the Circle B Bar Reserve - December 2010

I've been called the Birdie Paparazzi. But today I was the one being followed! An otter came bounding up the path after me at least twice. He was cute! This morning I decided to hike Alligator Alley, since it was foggy and I felt like taking sunrise pictures. It's also been a while since I've walked that way and I wanted to see what birds are around these days. The …Read More


Do Coots get Cooties?

Do Coots get Cooties? - November 2010

I had some fun pictures of the American Coots at the Circle B Bar Reserve this Sunday. So here's a special coot-only post… I caught the coot below flapping his wings as he reached into the water for a breakfast bite. Look at those big white feet! I always have to laugh when I see coots' feet. Too bad the plant on the water surface hides the reflection of the …Read More


Skies Filled with Birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Skies Filled with Birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve - November 2010

I found the birds! Last Monday I was disappointed to visit the Circle B Bar Reserve and find practically no birds in the skies. Today was quite the opposite! The morning was cool and bright — a nice change from yesterday's cloudy gloom! I walked out on Heron Hideout and immediately saw my first flock of American Robins for the season. (I thought I heard them a few weeks ago, …Read More


Where are all the birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve?

Where are all the birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve? - November 2010

Relatively speaking, there were very few birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning. Usually we are greeted by flocks of White Ibis and Wood Storks flying over Heron Hideout. We see Osprey and various wading birds flying overhead. Lately a bunch of Roseate Spoonbills have been filling the marshes with pink. Today there were very few birds in the skies. A couple of the regulars were there — …Read More


Seeing is Believing: There Really are Otters at the Circle B Bar Reserve!

Seeing is Believing: There Really are Otters at the Circle B Bar Reserve! - November 2010

I've been going to the Circle B Bar Reserve at least once a week since June, and plenty of times before that, and I've never seen a River Otter. Dyeyo's seen them plenty of times. Well, I finally got to see one today! There were otters running up and down Marsh Rabbit Run all morning. The best photo ops were when they surfaced with fish. Then we heard lots of …Read More


What’s so Great about Morning Light?

What’s so Great about Morning Light? - November 2010

I've had some people asking me why I get up at the crack of dawn to go to Circle B. The answer is "to get there during the great morning light." So what's so great about morning light? Compare and contrast the following two pictures. Both feature a Greater Yellowlegs, taken yesterday morning on Heron Hideout, from the same angle. One was taken around 7 in the morning (sunrise was …Read More


More Winter Birds Have Arrived at the Circle B Bar Reserve

More Winter Birds Have Arrived at the Circle B Bar Reserve - November 2010

I spent my off-Friday morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve. I heard my first American Goldfinch of the season! I never saw it, but the call is unmistakable. Heron Hideout is definitely a great place to be at sunrise these days. The water levels in the marsh are extremely low, so the birds congregate on the right side of the trail, right in the great morning light. This morning …Read More


MFC Spirit Photography Contest Entry

MFC Spirit Photography Contest Entry - November 2010

Our MFC Spirit magazine at work is having another photography contest and so I am entering a picture of the famous Circle B Sandhill Crane colt. I'm posting it here so that I can download it easily at work…


Windy Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Windy Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - November 2010

Hundreds of White Ibis took to the air this morning over the Circle B Bar Reserve. The cold and the wind kept most of the birds under cover, but the White Ibises seemed to know how to navigate despite the gusts. On Heron Hideout, the marsh on the left is completely dry, and it seems surreal. We need a good rain to get the water level back to normal. I …Read More


Happy Hallo-wren at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Happy Hallo-wren at the Circle B Bar Reserve - November 2010

Apparently the "Water, Wings, and Wild Things" event yesterday spooked a lot of the birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve…but the wrens stuck around and celebrated Halloween with us! The marshes were fairly quiet this morning, but there were plenty of little bids for patient photographers… We started off walking to the far end of Heron Hideout, where it turns into the Eagle Roost trail. Dyeyo had good luck …Read More


Lots of Birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Lots of Birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve - October 2010

There were Eastern Phoebes everywhere at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning. Plus a whole lot of other birds… After Al and several other people saw a Cuckoo during this past week, we headed out to see if we could find it too. Al also reports that the river otters are back along the Alligator Alley trail. So we headed out the Marsh Rabbit Run trail, circled back around …Read More


Bald Eagles and Teleconverter Magnification

Bald Eagles and Teleconverter Magnification - October 2010

I've often wondered how the image quality would be if Dyeyo and I were to stack our teleconverters. I got the opportunity to do an experiment yesterday at the Circle B Bar Reserve. We had seen an adult Bald Eagle flying over the marsh several times, and it finally settled in a treetop all the way across the marsh. I used Live View to refine the focus on my tripod-mounted …Read More


The Coots have Returned to the Circle B Bar Reserve

The Coots have Returned to the Circle B Bar Reserve - October 2010

Things are certainly picking up at the Circle B Bar Reserve. Besides seeing the first American Coots of the season, this morning we saw a juvenile Bald Eagle doing some nice close fly-bys, three Roseate Spoonbills, and plenty of Gray Catbirds and Eastern Phoebes. Last night when we left at sunset, we said good night to the Sand Hill Cranes, who were already on one leg and starting to fall …Read More


Our First Afternoon Visit to the Circle B Bar Reserve

Our First Afternoon Visit to the Circle B Bar Reserve - October 2010

Dyeyo and I made an unusual late-afternoon trip to the Circle B Bar Reserve today, hoping to get some fun sunset shots. It was strange to be there in the afternoon instead of the early morning. The differences in lighting almost made it feel like a totally new place. When we first got out to Heron Hideout, we were greeted by this Gray Catbird, who posed pretty on a nice …Read More


Fill Flash in the Outdoors

Fill Flash in the Outdoors - October 2010

Somebody asked me this weekend why I bother to use flash outside. After all, the sun is up and there's plenty of light, right? What I explained is that fill flash can be useful, even outside in bright sunlight. For one thing, bright sunlight tends to create harsh shadows, and a bit of fill flash can lighten those up. Flash can also illuminate a bird high in a tree:


Lots of Little Birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Lots of Little Birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve - October 2010

A month ago I was ecstatic to see a warbler at the Circle B Bar Reserve. Today I nonchalantly dismissed one as "just another Palm Warbler." How quickly do the birding times change!! This morning's hike took us up Heron Hideout and out Marsh Rabbit Run. We spent most the time chasing the little guys. Dyeyo was determined to get a good Common Yellowthroat shot, and the House Wrens teased …Read More


A Perfect Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

A Perfect Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - October 2010

The weather was cool, the sunrise was awesome, the birds were out, and there was a breeze! I couldn't imagine a more perfect morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve. There was a Tricolored Heron in his usual place, fishing where the water flows under the trail. He looked great in the morning light. The Palm Warblers are definitely back in full force! We enjoyed watching several of them hopping …Read More


The Whistler Flight School is pleased to announce the opening of Marsh Rabbit Run!!

The Whistler Flight School is pleased to announce the opening of Marsh Rabbit Run!! - September 2010

Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve is magical. Maybe because two mornings are never alike. This morning, we were hiking on Heron Hideout when suddenly about twenty Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks took to the air around us. Calling back and forth to each other with their sweet distinctive whistle, the birds flew round and round over our heads. There were a few orange-beaked adults, but most of the crowd were …Read More


Circle B Migrants

Circle B Migrants - September 2010

I felt like playing with Photoshop today, so I made another warbler and migrant bird collage. These little birds are usually high in the oak canopies, and it's hard to get great pictures of them. They also hop around really fast. You come home with a stiff neck and then squint at your pictures, asking "is there really a bird in there?" So this is combination of a bunch of …Read More


Quiet morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Quiet morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - September 2010

The sky was clear and the winds were northeast and there were not many migrants at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning. It was a bit cooler, though, and a walk through the marsh at dawn is always pleasant. Thankfully I didn't see any alligators, either! I started out on Heron Hideout and checked for the little family of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks. Actually there are several families, on both …Read More


Activity Starting to Pick up at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Activity Starting to Pick up at the Circle B Bar Reserve - September 2010

I keep running into photographers at the Circle B Bar Reserve who complain that nothing is happening. They remember the thousands of pelicans and myriad of other species seen last November through April. There isn't as much activity now, but there's still plenty to photograph, especially if you know where to look! The plan this morning was to get to Circle B early enough to walk around to Wading Bird …Read More


Quiet Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Quiet Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - September 2010

The Circle B Bar Reserve is my favorite place to be at dawn. The landscape is so beautiful with the sun just peeking out over it, and the critters all waking up to a new day. We were treated to an early-morning view of the Black-Bellied Whistling Duck family. They are usually not out until later in the day. It's fun to watch how the adults take care of their …Read More


Is it possible for a bird to be too close to the photographer?

Is it possible for a bird to be too close to the photographer? - September 2010

Yesterday at Circle B, Dyeyo and I said that it will be nice when we can go back on the Marsh Rabbit Run trail, where the trees are not as tall and it is easier to get good pictures of warblers. Then Dyeyo teased that a warbler ought to hop down onto my camera lens and pose for him…and thereby inspired this Photoshop joke!


There are warblers at the Circle B Bar Reserve…if you know where to look!

There are warblers at the Circle B Bar Reserve…if you know where to look! - September 2010

Dyeyo and I enjoyed a nice walk at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning.  It's a time of year when finding birds is very hit-or-miss.   We felt like we hit the bull's eye with several sightings of migrating warblers. We got to Circle B at sunrise, and as we admired the freshly mowed (and widened!) Shady Oak trail, the rising sun illuminated a flock of Wild Turkeys with great …Read More


Quiet Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Quiet Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - September 2010

Gotta love off-Fridays. I went to Circle B this morning to check on the fall migration status. It was a pretty quiet morning. Walking on Heron Hideout out towards Alligator Alley, I enjoyed watching some Glossy Ibises fly over. I got some decent flight shots. Next time I should turn on the fill flash. I saw more Double-Crested Cormorants than I have in months. Lots of them were doing fly-bys …Read More


More Migrants at the Circle B Bar Reserve

More Migrants at the Circle B Bar Reserve - August 2010

We were so excited by the migratory birds that we saw yesterday at the Circle B Bar Reserve that we just had to go back this morning. I was hoping to get better pictures of the migrating warblers, in non-foggy light.  But the marshes were very quiet this morning.  We saw two American Redstarts by the dock on Lake Hancock.  Those were the only warblers we saw all morning. Since …Read More


Migrants Making their Way to Circle B

Migrants Making their Way to Circle B - August 2010

It was a cloudy, foggy, and humid morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  As we headed out Heron Hideout into more and more fog, we doubted that we would see much.  But it turned out to be our most productive species morning in several months.  The migratory birds are definitely making their way back to Circle B! We started out on Heron Hideout, where we basically observed fog.  It …Read More


Black-Bellied Whistling Ducklings at the Circle B Bar Reserve!

Black-Bellied Whistling Ducklings at the Circle B Bar Reserve! - August 2010

Dyeyo and I spent another great morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve today.  We went with hopes of seeing some migratory warblers or wading birds.  Dyeyo did see a Northern Parula, but our major excitements today were the Yellow-Crowned Night Warbler and the baby Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks! The sunrise was slow this morning.  Dyeyo and I are used to getting to Circle B at 6:30 am, and these days, …Read More


Summer Birding Map – Circle B Bar Reserve

Summer Birding Map – Circle B Bar Reserve - August 2010

I've been meaning to make a map of the best birding spots at the Circle B Bar Reserve. The best places vary with season, of course, so this is primarily a summertime map.   Click on the picture below for a bigger version. We're really looking forward to the re-opening of the Marsh Rabbit Run trail, which is where we typically see the most birds.


Rainy Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Rainy Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - August 2010

Finally!  We got some rain!  Although it cut our morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve a little short, it also kept our hike cooler than usual.  And boy did we need the rain! The morning started out darker than usual, due to the cloudcover.  We took the Shady Oak trail and got all the way out to Lake Hancock before sunrise.  We were rewarded by a fun sunrise. I …Read More


Another Hot Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Another Hot Morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - July 2010

Dyeyo and I spent a fun, but hot, morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve today. We got there just before sunrise, and watching the sun come up over Lake Hancock was spectacular.  Then the sun went behind some clouds.  We saw a juvenile Green Heron down at the start of the Alligator Alley trail, but since the sun wasn't really out, the pictures weren't great.  Nor did I get …Read More


Lots of Green Herons at the Circle B Bar Reserve this Morning

Lots of Green Herons at the Circle B Bar Reserve this Morning - July 2010

It's amazing how every day at the Circle B Bar Reserve is a little bit different.  Last week we saw lots of juvenile Great-Crested Flycatchers.  Today we didn't see a single one, but we saw five Green Herons (and we usually see one of those per visit at most).  Nature's fun with all its surprises. We arrived in the middle of a beautiful sunrise.  It's only first thing in the …Read More


Another beautiful morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Another beautiful morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve - July 2010

Dyeyo and I arrived at the Circle B Bar Reserve at 6:30 am to enjoy a nice warm morning of birding! The sunrise over Lake Hancock was gorgeous.  Since our favorite Marsh Rabbit Run trail is closed, we took the Alligator Alley trail instead.  The breeze down by the lake felt wonderful as we enjoyed the great morning light. We saw the two owls in their usual tree, but I …Read More


Birds and Babies and Alligators, Oh my!

Birds and Babies and Alligators, Oh my! - June 2010

Dyeyo and I enjoyed our hike around the Circle B Bar Reserve again this morning.  We saw our usual assortment of birds and babies, plus a few surprises… The Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks continue to make Circle B their summer home.  Their calls can be heard all over the marshes at all hours of the morning.  We suspect they are nesting in the marshes not too far from Heron Hideout.  Hopefully …Read More


How to Eat a Fish (if you’re an Anhinga)

How to Eat a Fish (if you’re an Anhinga) - June 2010

Dyeyo got an extra Father's Day gift today when this Anhinga posed for us at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  The Anhinga surfaced with a catfish and proceeded to eat it, to the delight of the Birdie Paparazzi!  (Hey, Squirt, it's a catfish!) So if you've never swallowed a fish whole before, here's how to do it: First you have to spear the fish.  This includes a nice dive into …Read More


Baby Birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Baby Birds at the Circle B Bar Reserve -

The beautiful sunrise this morning was just the start of a happy Father's Day hike with Dyeyo at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  We saw lots of baby birds!   Sand Hill Cranes, Purple Gallinules, Common Moorhens, Grackles and Red-Winged Blackbirds, a Red-Bellied Woodpecker… The Black-necked Stilt babies that we have been watching for the past few weeks were nowhere to be seen this week (they've gotten big enough to have …Read More


Magical Sunrise at Circle B Bar Reserve

Magical Sunrise at Circle B Bar Reserve - June 2010

The sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning was magnificent!  The drive over from Orlando was very very foggy, and as the sun rose and burned off the fog over the marsh, the light was just beautiful.  I looked over at a common bunch of grasses, illuminated by the sunrise.  The golden glow was gorgeous. There were dragonflies resting on top of the grasses.  I wish I had …Read More


HDR Experimentation at Circle B Bar Reserve at Sunrise

HDR Experimentation at Circle B Bar Reserve at Sunrise - June 2010

I've been reading a lot about High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography.  Camera sensors are not capable of capturing as much dynamic range in an image as our eyes can see;  therefore, images lack the full range of tones.  HDR attempts to solve this problem by allowing you to combine images of different exposures in software, drawing out details that were not obvious in the original images. I've been curious to …Read More


Slow Morning at Circle B Bar Reserve

Slow Morning at Circle B Bar Reserve -

Dyeyo and I went to the Circle B Bar Reserve at 6:30 this morning to enjoy the early morning light with our birds.  Unfortunately, the sun didn't really come up because it was so cloudy.  We still had a good time birding. The first bird we saw was this Little Blue Heron, who posed for us before the sun had really come up.  I tried fill flash and got some …Read More


Baby Birds at Circle B Bar Reserve

Baby Birds at Circle B Bar Reserve - May 2010

The peak bird migration is definitely past, and some would say that this is the "slow period" for birding at Circle B Bar Reserve. Dyeyo and I are finding that the babies popping up throughout the preserve still make our walks very rewarding! This morning we arrived at the Circle B Bar Reserve at dawn (6:30) and headed out Heron Hideout. A family of Common Moorhens greeted us, and we …Read More


Sunrise at Circle B Bar Reserve

Sunrise at Circle B Bar Reserve - May 2010

The increasingly hot temperatures drove Dyeyo and me to the Circle B Bar Reserve at 6:30 this morning, to allow us time for birding before the heat set in. I was amazed to see the marsh at sunrise. It was like a whole other world, with dewdrops glistening in the rising sun, and the grasses and trees giving off a friendly glow. The first birds to greet us were the …Read More


Still Plenty of Birds at Circle B Bar Reserve

Still Plenty of Birds at Circle B Bar Reserve - May 2010

It was very hot but very fun to be back at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning. Dyeyo and I took a nice long hike and saw some neat birds. I saw my first Eastern Meadowlark! I'll wait until I have a better picture to post one, though. When we first arrived, we saw this Red-Shouldered Hawk sitting up in a tree on the Heron Hideout. Dyeyo clapped to …Read More


Baby Sand Hill Crane!

Baby Sand Hill Crane! - April 2010

When Dyeyo called to say that he'd seen a baby sand hill crane hatch at the Circle B Bar Reserve, I was very jealous.  Then a few weeks later he reported seeing the new family at the same place several times in a row.  So I had to go and see if I could get some of my own pictures.  Lucky for me, they were there, and I got to …Read More


Little Birds Galore at Circle B Bar Reserve

Little Birds Galore at Circle B Bar Reserve - March 2010

The trees at the Circle B Bar Reserve were full of little birds today. The warblers are so cute.  This yellow rumped warbler wasn't sure about the crazy photographer underneath him. There were tons of warblers today (palm, pine, yellow-rumped, and common yellowthroats), but we didn't see or hear a single blue-gray gnatcatcher.  That was a big change.  The gnatcatchers have been very numerous in the preserve this winter. We …Read More


Limpkins feasting on apple snails

Limpkins feasting on apple snails - February 2010

The recent freezing weather in Central FL had some devastating effects at the Circle B Bar Reserve.  Many of the fish died from the cold, leaving the entire place stinky and littered with dead animals.  Then the birds started to leave, probably because their food source was so greatly diminished.  So by today the smell was better, and we braved the chill to go visit the birds. All the herons, …Read More


Cold Birdwatching at Circle B Bar Reserve

Cold Birdwatching at Circle B Bar Reserve - January 2010

Dyeyo, Rich, and I were very cold birdwatchers at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning.  My wool hat from Pittsburgh came in handy! I saw my first limpkins on Wading Bird Way today.  Look at that long spear of a beak! The limpkins were fishing for their breakfasts as we watched.  This guy had his head down for a while, and he came up with his prey wrapped around …Read More


American White Pelicans Roosting at Circle B Bar Reserve

American White Pelicans Roosting at Circle B Bar Reserve - December 2009

The air was full of American White Pelicans at the Circle B Bar Reserve this morning. A huge flock of the pelicans is roosting on the lake at Wading Bird Way.  I took the camera and pointed straight at the sky as they flew overhead: It was cool to hear the "whoosh!" of all their wings as they flew right over our heads. The sun was out today and the …Read More


Bird-watching at Circle B Bar Reserve

Bird-watching at Circle B Bar Reserve - December 2009

Now that Dyeyo, Rich, and I have discovered the Circle B Bar Reserve, we go there often.  Each time we go we see new birds and learn more about them.  It's such fun. The first bird we saw this time was one that I usually don't like to photograph, a black vulture.  There are tons of vultures just down the road from the Circle B entrance, near this little fishing …Read More


Where are all the birds?

Where are all the birds? - November 2009

We're starting to see a few more birds in the yard, but not as many as usual, and no goldfinches yet. There have been a couple of new house finches (I think the darker red ones are migratory…I never see such bright red guys in the summertime), some brown-headed cowbirds and red-winged blackbirds, the yellow-throated warbler Bow Tie still visits pretty regularly, and then our regular doves and cardinals. I've …Read More


Cloudy day at Circle B Bar Reserve

Cloudy day at Circle B Bar Reserve -

Dyeyo, Rich, and I were so excited about our last visit to the Circle B Bar Reserve, we carefully watched the weather to go back on the next sunny day.  But the weathermen deceived us, telling us that today would be sunny, and it was cloudy and foggy instead! Along the Shady Oak path, we came across this pileated woodpecker.  Dyeyo has seen a pileated in his backyard a couple …Read More


Our first visit to the Circle B Bar Reserve

Our first visit to the Circle B Bar Reserve - November 2009

After hearing about the Circle B Bar Reserve from people in the Sierra Club, Dyeyo, Rich, and I decided that we needed to check it out.  Boy were we surprised!  People were not kidding when they said it is a wonderful place for birds.  It's a protected reserve in Polk County, and there are paths through the marshes.  The birds are used to people and the activity on the hiking …Read More