Category Archives: Circle B Bar Reserve

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.

Circle B Bar Reserve – October 5th, 2013

Three of us from the Photography Interest Group visited the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida last weekend.  The Circle B is about 1 hour and 20 minutes from where I live, but it’s well worth the drive.  I haven’t been over since last October – so I was eager to see what’s going on.  We managed to get there before sunrise and were greeted with this scene:

Before Sunrise
Before Sunrise

We saw a lot of the regular resident wildlife including:  Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Ospreys, Red Shouldered Hawks, Black Bellied Whistling Ducks, Blue-Grey Gnatcatchers, Red Winged Blackbirds, Ibis, a few Alligators, lots of Apple Snails and eggs, lots of Dragon Flies, lots of Spiders, and a horde of hungry mosquitos!  OK, I didn’t actually see the mosquitos – but I sure knew they were there!  There were also a great many Limpkins, probably due to the abundance of Apple Snails.

Strolling Limpkin
Strolling Limpkin – I loved the light on this bird and the background.  If she’d only turned her head just a bit more toward the camera. I guess some models are still learning “the moves”.

I was surprised to see baby Limpkins too.  I didn’t realize that they breed year round.  It was a treat to watch Mom feeding her chicks and see the chicks moving around trying to find snails for themselves.

Limpkin Chick
Limpkin Chick – This little one climbed up on the reed and then had a hard time getting back down. The other three chicks stuck close to Mom. I think this one will be trouble.

In the not so usual category of wildlife, we saw a pair of Bald Eagles, a Fox (darn, too dark for a photo!), White Pelicans (they apparently stayed through the  summer), and many small hard to ID Warblers (passing through on migration?).

It was a good visit.  Much better than the foggy one last year when I hurt my foot.  Now that cooler weather is starting to come through Florida we’ll have to go back more often.

You can read other posts I’ve written about the Circle B here.  And you can see more photos from the Circle B Bar in this set on Flickr,

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Dealing with poor weather – Circle B Bar Reserve, 10-6-12

The Photography Interest Group decided to organize an expedition to the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida yesterday.  It’s about an hour and twenty-minute drive for us and since we wanted to try a new place a bit further out for sunrise, Frank, Kevin M., Lutfi, and I met at 5:30 to carpool over.  Talk about getting out of bed at “O-dark thirty”!  But I was excited, since I haven’t been to the Circle B Bar since last November – way too long to stay away from such a beautiful place.

It was getting foggy as we approached the parking area, but I wasn’t too worried – sometimes fog can add to a scene.  We arrived in plenty of time, and walked out to Wading Bird Way (see this link for a .pdf map of the Circle B Bar trails).  The closer we got, the foggier it became – and it looked like this right at dawn.

Frank, Lutfi, and Kevin M. at the Circle B Bar Reserve
Frank, Lutfi, and Kevin M. in the fog at the Circle B Bar Reserve

To make a long story short – the fog was dense and dawn brought no color at all to the sky.  There was no sunrise.  We didn’t even see the sun until about an hour and a half later.  Regular readers will know that I really like landscape photography and around dawn and dusk are the best times to photograph.  With yesterday’s conditions, it just wasn’t meant to be.  So what should you do in a situation like this?

First, enjoy the walk.  Being out in nature is a wonderful experience and doesn’t have to include photography.

From a photographic perspective, what else can you do?  For landscapes, try infrared – it can help cut though the fog, especially if you can include some foreground elements.

Foggy lake
Foggy lake

If you can get close, fog and mist can be a great background to isolate your subject.

Posing Limpkin
Posing Limpkin

And focus on details.  Find some smaller things that you can zoom in on.  Look for subjects enhanced by the mist.

Spider and web
Spider and misty web

Yes, not every photo expedition goes as planned.  Yesterday’s sunrise was disappointing (non-existent?).  But we saw and photographed many things:  birds (Sand Hill Cranes, Egrets, Herons, Ibis, Osprey, Whistling Ducks, Hawks, Coots, Moorhens, a Purple Gallinule, Woodpeckers, and others), alligators, dragonflies, spiders, butterflies, and flowers while we were there.  All in all, a great day.  You can see more photos from the Circle B Bar in this set on Flickr, and check out Frank‘s, Kevin M.‘s, and Lutfi‘s too.

What do you do in situations like this?  I’d love to hear your suggestions.  Send me an email or add a comment to the blog.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Fotobug Podcast Interviews Ed

Jim Caldwell and Fred Rodgers posted episode 40 of their Fotobug podcast today.  It’s located here:, and you can also subscribe via iTunes.

One of the things they talk about this time is the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida and they interview me for the show.  I got to tell them about my Bobcat encounter from a couple of weeks ago.

It’s a good show – you should add them to your regular listen list.

Landscapes and Bobcat at the Circle B Bar Reserve

Last weekend, I went over to the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida with Kevin M., Lutfi E., and Frank B. I almost didn’t go – we checked Flickr for new photos from the area and didn’t see much being posted. But I remembered seeing yellow flowers blooming there at this time last year and wanted to see them again.

Early morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve
Early morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve – The yellow flowers are Burr Marigolds. These are all over the Circle B Bar in mid to late November.

Sunrise sure does happen early since the time changed. We met at 5:15am to drive over and arrived just as it started to get light. I find it very hard to predict how sunrise will look. Weather and clouds can shift over the time / distance of the drive. But this morning turned out nice and I managed to make a good image or two.

Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve
Sunrise at the Circle B Bar Reserve

The bird population was a bit disappointing. We saw the usual suspects, including Anhingas, Cormorants, Woodstorks, Ospreys, Herons, Egrets, Coots, Moorhens, and Whistling Ducks. I attempted a few bird photos, but none came out blog worthy. Here’s a landscape that includes a few birds:

Tree and Woodstorks
Tree and Woodstorks

So – I didn’t see any new birds or make any great bird photos, but I did make some landscapes I like. Enough to count the trip as a success. And then…

A jogger came by us and told us about “a Bobcat up in tree about 300 yards away on the right past a palm tree”. That got my photo adrenalin going! I’ve seen Bobcats in the wild three times or so. In one case at dusk I was able to get a single underexposed, blurry photo before it moved off a trail at Orlando Wetlands. In my experience they take a look at you and then they’re gone. You only have a few seconds to make the photo. So this situation sounded exciting.

We took off down the trail – and Frank and I walked right by it! Lucky for us, Kevin was trailing us, saw it and called us back. It was very well camouflaged and it sure helped to have multiple sets of eyes searching. There was no one around at first. The Bobcat looked healthy, and appeared to be resting and watching from about 35 – 40 feet up. I was really happy that I had my long lens and flash with me. It was backlit against the sky and a real tough exposure without flash. We made some photos and moved on down the trail. When we returned, there was a crowd gathered and it was pretty famous on Flickr the next day! Judging from the photos in the Circle B Bar Flickr pool, it’s a good place to see Bobcats.

Bobcat in Tree, Circle B Bar Reserve

Bobcat in Tree, Circle B Bar – I’ve seen Bobcats in the wild before, but I’ve never been able to take a good photo of one. We saw this one resting up on a branch and it posed for a while. In this image, I think it was trying to figure out how to get through the crowd of humans at the base of the tree.

So the moral of this story is: You won’t make any good photos if you don’t get up and get out there. You’ll never know what you could have seen if you don’t make the effort to go out and see it. You may be surprised and if you are, I hope you’re ready!

You can view other photos I’ve made at the Circle B Bar in this set on Flickr.

Oh, and have a Happy Thanksgiving. Even with all the problems we have in the economy, country, world, and our personal lives – we can each find many things to be grateful for.

I’m thankful that you stop by and read my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

An HDR photo and some tips

Here’s another photo from our trip last week to the Circle B Bar Reserve:

Sunrise marsh
Sunrise marsh: Early morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve near Lakeland, Florida

The dynamic range of the light in a scene like this is extreme – a perfect opportunity to try your hand at High Dynamic Range (HDR) photography.  I won’t get into the details on how to do HDR.  You can find an excellent tutorial on Trey Ratcliff’s site.  But I wanted to offer a some hints.

  • For sunrise / sunset images such as this, I usually bracket 9 frames at 1 EV apart.  This allows me to capture the very bright sun, details in the sky, and even details in the shadows.  You may want to consider biasing your overall exposure to underexpose slightly since it’s usually the sun’s brightness that is hard to capture.
  • When you process your images, select only the ones you need.  I look at the image and histogram in Lightroom and use that to pick which ones to use.  In this example, I didn’t process the brightest exposures.  The reason for this is that as you use more and more exposures, you increase the chances of introducing noise and ghosting into your final output.
  • If you can afford it, try different software to process your image.  Photoshop, Photomatix, and HDR Efx Pro (and others) all have their strengths and weaknesses and one may work better on any given image than the others.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Circle B Bar Reserve – Summer Sizzle

It’s hot and muggy here in the land of sunshine and the later in the day you go somewhere, the hotter it gets.  This is real motivation to get out early – so Frank and I were on the road at 5:30 am yesterday to drive over to the Circle B Bar Reserve near Lakeland, Florida in time to catch the sunrise.  I’m not sure what these flowers are, but I really like how they almost match the color of the horizon:

Misty Sunrise Flower
Misty Sunrise Flower; 9 bracket capture processed with Nik HDR Efex Pro

We saw a lot of the usual wildlife:  Limpkins (one with a very large, fist sized snail!), Great Blue Herons, Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Moorhens, Grebes, many Woodstorks (especially in trees) – including some juveniles, a Bald Eagle, quite a few Ospreys, several Hawks,  and of course a few Alligators (mostly in Lake Hancock).  This Great Blue was posing in front of some Spanish Moss.  I wanted to do something a little different, so I converted it to Black and White.  It makes it much more of an abstract composition:

Great Blue Heron on one leg with Spanish Moss
Great Blue Heron on one leg with Spanish Moss; B&W conversion with Nik Silver Efex Pro

All in all another good visit, but by the time we left it was very warm.  I’d like to share some tips with you for this kind of weather.  When you travel somewhere in your air-conditioned car and take your cool camera gear out into an environment like this, your lens and eyepiece are very likely to fog up.  Try these things to minimize the issue:

  • Keep your gear packed up while inside the car to insulate it from the cold.  It will be much worse if your camera is sitting on the seat by you right in the A/C blast zone as you drive
  • Consider running the A/C at a higher temp on your way over so the gear doesn’t get so cold
  • Try to arrive a few minutes early to give your gear time to warm up
  • Take a lens cloth with you
  • If you have a filter on the front of your lens, you can remove it when it fogs and get the next shot before the front element fogs up
  • The smaller your gear, the quicker it will warm up and stop fogging.  If your big DSLR glass fogs, pull your point and shoot out of your pocket and keep going.

You can read what else I’ve written about the Circle B Bar here.  And you can view photos I’ve posted from this great place in this set on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved