Saturday, April 9, 2011

Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland , my favorite park.

I've visited quite a few of the state and local parks in Florida over the past 5 years.  My favorite used to be Myakka River State Park in Sarasota, Fl.  Great park with great amenities and still one of my top 5 parks in the state.  Recently though, I have been spending a lot of time at Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Fl.  While the amenities might not be up to the standard of a Myakka River State Park, it'll blow you away with its abundance of wildlife and that's why it's now my favorite park in the state. 

This entry is about my adventure today at Circle B Bar Reserve.  It started out like any other day at the park, I parked my car in the main lot by the Nature Center and headed out on Shady Oak trail.  My goal today was finally find where the Owls are at this park.  I've searched and searched but to no avail, I have yet to see an Owl out there but I do they know they exist there, I just haven't been fortunate enough to stumble across them yet. 

The walk through Shady Oaks Trail was pretty uneventful until I looked up in the sky and saw a juvenile Bald Eagle soaring overhead. I found this to be pretty exciting since it was the first one I had ever seen in the wild.  This was going to be a great trip to Circle B, I could just feel it.



On my previous trip, I had found a very large bee hive about 30ft up.  Yes, I was looking for owls but stumbled upon this huge hive so I took some photos.  (see below).


This was a really cool find and I was very happy to have seen it when I did.  See, last week we had some terrible storms come through the area and there was a decent amount of damage at the park.  When I made it out to the tree this hive was in, it was gone. 

As I walked around the tree completely oblivious to anything else around me, I heard a grunt, a fairly loud grunt.  I froze.  As I took note of my surroundings I saw a Sal, she was about 10ft in front of me, which is way too close for my comfort.


She glanced at me a few times but never really cared much about my being there.  I was starting to get comfortable again with my surroundings when I caught a glimpse of something to my left, which put me between the hog and the new comer, again, not exactly the best spot to be in.


I hesitated for a moment before taking a few photographs, all I could think about is "I hope this Betterbeamer I'm using doesn't piss it off".  This is my first encounter with a wild Bobcat and at the time I thought I was between it and its prey, although I wasn't sure how a Bobcat was going to take out a grown Hog.   After a few moments the Bobcat moved off , occassionaly looking back in my direction to see what I was doing.


At this point, my heart was racing, I wasn't completely sure what was going on and I had to keep an eye on the Bobcat and the Hog.  Again, I started to feel a little better about the situation as the Bobcat moved further and further away.  I still thought it was strange though that it was stalking a full grown Hog.  Maybe there were other Bobcats in the area?  That didn't seem right either as I was somewhat sure they didn't hunt in packs.

A few moments passed and I started watching the Hog.  Some other photographers walked past and I pointed the Sow out to them.  They came over and started looking around the tree the Hog was by and a few moments later the Bobcat experience started making a lot more sense.  The Sow had piglets.


I guess the Sow never saw the Bobcat, she didn't seem very nervous and really didn't pay me any mind other than the occassional glance and snort.  I'm not sure what I would have done had the Bobcat charged in to try to pick off a piglet, heck at the time the Bobcat was there, I didn't even realize there were sleeping piglets close by and the Sow didn't seem to view me or the other photographers as a threat.  

About 20 minutes later, the Sow gave up on foraging and moved her family off towards the lake.


 

What an eventful first half hour or so at the park.  I can't wait for my next visit, maybe I'll break out the bird blind and sit under one of the shady oaks and wait for the action to come to me.

As always, thank you for taking the time out to read my blog and if you would like to purchase any of my photography work, you can find it at www.rorymadstudios.com (redesigned site as well, I might add ). 
~ Michael

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My name is Michael White and I'm a Fine Art Photographer based out of the Tampa Bay area.   I enjoy photographing various landscapes and wild life that can be found in the US.  I am also the creator of a new process called High Key HDR. 
 
You can find my website at www.carsinhdr.com and I can also be followed on Twitter at @rorymadstudios .