Tag Archives: Great Horned Owl

Circle B Bar Reserve – February 20, 2016

Surprisingly, it’s been 2 1/2 years since I’ve been to the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida.  Surprising because although it is a longer drive for me, it’s such a wonderful place.  Every time I go, I realize again that it’s well worth the time.

Anyway, four of us from the Photography Interest Group woke up very early (me at 4:25 am!) and headed over.  Sunrise wasn’t as colorful as some mornings are, but the calm winds made for nice reflections.

Calm morningCalm morning – Looking west before sunrise

When we had enough light, we all shifted to birding mode and explored.  The temperature was just right for walking around.  We saw many warblers in the trees and bushes –  I think most were Yellow-rumped, but I’m not so good with IDs on smaller birds.

U lookin' at me?U lookin’ at me? Yellow-rumped Warbler

And the canals were full of wading birds looking for breakfast.

Green HeronGreen Heron

In spots the surface of the water was completely covered with duckweed, but incredibly the birds still managed to grab small minnows.

Snowy Egret and minnowSnowy Egret and minnow

I saw another egret pounce and come up with a stick, but as I watched it dropped the stick and kept and swallowed the minnow that was also in its beak – amazing skills!

We also saw a good variety of other birds including some less common ones:  hawks, Osprey, a Barred Owl, Cardinals, Belted Kingfishers, Sandhill Cranes,  Caspian Terns, a Black Crowned Night Heron, an American Bittern, a Carolina Wren, a Sora, a Swamp Sparrow, American Robins, an Eastern Phoebe, and others.

On the way out we parked for a few minutes to meet some famous new arrivals.

Great Horned Owl nest and chicksGreat Horned Owl nest and chicks

It wasn’t hard to find this nest – the tree was roped off, and a volunteer was doing a good job protecting the site and keeping all the photographers in order and back away from the birds!  It was nice to see these two little ones, and it was nice that all the people were polite and respected the bird’s space.

You can find more info and photos at these links:

The Circle B Bar Reserve is an extraordinary place – one of the many blessings we count here in Florida.  If you haven’t been there, go.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – 1/7/2015

My friend Tom M. wanted to go out photographing last week.  And I was ready – I hadn’t clicked the shutter since last year! When he mentioned that he wasn’t very familiar with the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, I jumped at the chance to show him around.

Our first stop was along the causeway to watch the gulls and Black Skimmers that often gather there.

Black SkimmerBlack Skimmer – Along the causeway headed into the Refuge

Then we drove through Gator Creek Road and Blackpoint Wildlife Drive.

Roseate SpoonbillRoseate Spoonbill (BPWD)- This bird was foraging near the shore and ignored me as I crouched down and framed my shot. When it heard the shutter clicking, it stopped and stared right at me for a few seconds and then continued feeding.

River Otter
River Otter (BPWD) – I stopped the car when I spotted two Otters in the water next to the road. They swam by and kept going as we got out to try to make a photo. We followed for a bit – but they were going quicker than our fast walk. One of them surprised me when it crossed the road and of course I was too slow to get a good photo of that. This is the best image I managed.

We also stopped by the Bairs Cove Boat ramp at Haulover Canal to visit the manatees there and then drove by the Great Horned Owl nest (near 402 and SR 3).  Our last stop was the visitor center to see if the painted buntings were around ( no, but they had been).

Great Horned Owl on nestGreat Horned Owl on nest – The platform and nest have been there for a long time. My first sighting was 3 years ago.

Whether you’re familiar with the area or not, this would be a very good half day route to see the highlights at MINWR.  And this is a wonderful time to go – there’s a lot of birds and other wildlife around, and the weather’s great.  Maybe I’ll see you over there!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Very good, but a bit sad – revisiting The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey

I hadn’t been by the  Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida in a long time.  So when Tom M. mentioned he wanted to go, I was happy to meet him and Keith H. there one morning last week.

Irked Eagle
Irked Eagle – This is Frederick, one of the permanent residents. A staff member brought him out for us.  In this photo, he’s yelling at a different staff member that walked by. Maybe he was expecting a handout?

Birds of Prey is a wonderful place but leaves me with mixed emotions.  On the good side, there are many more Raptors now than there used to be. The estimated population of Bald Eagles in Florida has grown from 88 active nests in 1973 to  1,457 nests now.  But on the sad side, there are also many more people and automobiles.  This leads to increased encounters between people, their cars, and birds – and sadly, means that many more birds are getting injured today.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Wonderful places like Birds of Prey take in injured raptors, treat them, and (if they’re well enough) release them back into the wild.  They’re able to release just over 40% of their raptor patients.  But it’s sad that some birds are too injured to be released.

Great Horned Owl
This Great Horned Owl looks a bit sleepy.  It must be a night owl.

The injured birds are well cared for. Some are placed in zoos or other facilities that are knowledgable and able to provide for them.  Others stay at Birds of Prey.  They make exceptional  ambassadors and help teach people about these awesome creatures.  All three raptors pictured in this post are permanent residents at the center.  It’s great that they’re such good photo subjects.  But it’s sad that they’ll never make it back into the wild.

There’s another place like this in Apopka, Florida – The Avian Reconditioning Center.  I haven’t been there yet, but I’m sure they’re just as dedicated to helping injured birds.  And I’m sure there are places like this all over.  You’ll be sad if you never visit one.  In addition to the photo-op, your entrance fees help pay for care for the injured birds.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go visit a bird rehab facility.  And make some photos too!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island – January 2012

Four of us from the Photography Interest Group visited the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge yesterday for the first time this year.  It was a beautiful Florida morning and this place is rockin’!!

As usual, we looked for a sunrise photo first.  We found this old house behind the Brevard Community College and the sky cooperated.

Old house and sunrise
Old house and sunrise

It was really hard to decide on the highlight of this trip.  Before I left yesterday morning, I Googled MINWR, and saw a report of “a Great Horned Owl on a nest on the left near 402 and SR 3”.  Sure enough, we drove right up to it and it was there waiting there for us!  The internet is really handy, isn’t it?

Great Horned Owl on nest
Great Horned Owl on nest

The second contender for highlight of the day was a Clapper Rail.  I’d seen reports of these too, but I’d never seen one before and didn’t know what to look for.  We parked at the first parking area on Black Point Wildlife Drive and were exploring when we met a tourist from Brazil.  He pointed out the bird for us, but it was back in the shadows and with the glare from the sun it took me a while to see it even with him pointing right at it!  Fortunately, it moved a bit and I was able to get a photo.  We eventually saw three in this area and one more at the second parking area.

These Clapper Rails are  hard to see...
These Clapper Rails are hard to see…

There were more people / cars on BPWLD yesterday than I’ve ever seen before.  A couple of times there were real traffic jams!  There were also more birds than I’ve seen there in a long time – maybe ever.  We saw Ospreys, Clapper Rails, Pintail Ducks, Coots, Moorhens, White Pelicans, Mottled Ducks, Green Wing Teals, Belted Kingfishers, Anhingas, Cormorants, Green Herons, Great Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Reddish Egrets, Little Blue Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Savannah Sparrows, Tree Sparrows, Tricolored Herons, Woodstorks, Roseate Spoonbills, a Great Horned Owl, Painted Buntings, various gulls, Red-winged Blackbirds, and others.

After BPWLD, we drove by the owl again and it was still there.  Then we went by the visitor center to check on the Painted Buntings.  There were at least two of them at the feeder.  After that we had to return home – a couple of us had things to do in the normal world. 🙁

If you’ve meant to visit MINWR and haven’t made it yet – get out there now.  I’ve never seen it better!  You can click on the photos above to go to Flickr, where you can see a larger version as well as any comments and discussion about them.  Click here to visit my Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge set, and click here to visit my Black Point Wildlife Drive set on Flickr.

By the way, I started an “Ed’s Life List” page to record the bird species I’ve seen in the wild.  I’ll keep my list there along with a link to a gallery of images for each species. I’ll try to keep this page up to date as I go.  Please visit if you get a chance.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.