Beyond the Backyard

Ash-throated Flycatcher Up Close at Lust Road

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Last weekend I visited the Lust Road entrance of the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. I had intended to do the drive, but I ended up spending the morning just walking around photographing the little birds at the gate. The Ash-throated Flycatcher is back this year, and he posed nice and close…

Ash-throated Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher

All morning I heard the happy calls of American Goldfinches. There was a small flock of them gathered in the grass. They haven’t turned their pretty bright yellow yet, so they blend in easily to the vegetation.

American Goldfinch
American Goldfinch

As I was stalking goldfinches, I spotted this photogenic little Palm Warbler. He seemed to know that he was beautiful in the golden morning light.

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

The Lust Road gate is a great place to look for sparrows. My first bird of the morning was a Swamp Sparrow…

Swamp Sparrow
Swamp Sparrow

I spotted a Grasshopper Sparrow, but he stayed deep in the bushes. Unlike this Savannah Sparrow…

Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow

I heard the Painted Buntings before I saw them. I then spotted a couple of greenies and a male. The male didn’t want to pose for the camera but the greenie’s feathers sure did glisten in the morning light. :)

Painted Bunting "Greenie"
Painted Bunting “Greenie”

The wind started to pick up and I began packing up my camera. A cute little Blue-gray Gnatcatcher popped out to say goodbye . I’ll never get tired of photographing these tiny clowns. This guys is starting to show the dark line on his face that’s part of his breeding plumage. That’s a sign that spring is on its way!!

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher
Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

Beyond the Backyard

Birdy Morning at the Orlando Mudflats

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It was my last morning of my Christmas vacation. The first sunny day in a week. I went to the Orlando Wetlands hoping for Roseate Spoonbills and a sunrise like this…

Orlando Wetlands at Dawn – Taken in 2012

But sadly, I encountered a very different sight – a mud flat! I didn’t realize that they are de-mucking one of the best cells in the wetlands as part of a wetlands renovation project. It’s valuable work that isn’t particularly photogenic…

Sunrise at the Orlando Mudflats!

There was a bright side, though. It was very easy to see the Wilson’s Snipe that were hanging out in the mudflats. Usually these timid birds are harder to find and photograph out in the open.

Wilson's Snipe
Wilson’s Snipe on Mud Flat

This Glossy Ibis certainly showed off his colors in the bright morning sun.

Glossy Ibis
Glossy Ibis on Mud Flat

My target bird of the morning was Roseate Spoonbill in flight. But most of the good birdy activity was on the side of the path looking straight into the sun. So I ended up walking some paths that I’ve never explored and enjoying the little birds who surprised me, like this Savannah Sparrow who perched so nicely out in the open.

Savannah Sparrow
Savannah Sparrow

I found a Great-crested Flycatcher who lurked in the depths of a distant tree and refused to be photographed. Then this Gray Catbird hopped out and said “meow!”

Gray Catbird
Gray Catbird

When I least expected it, a pair of Roseate Spoonbills flew in and landed in a tree. They are so pretty at this time of year in their bright pink and orange breeding colors. I stood watching them for a long time, hoping they would fly closer. They didn’t. But at least I got to see them!

Roseate Spoonbill
Roseate Spoonbill

I think I took the most pictures after I got back to my car to leave. There was a flock of American Goldfinches feeding in the tree above my car. I love their cheerful happy calls that sound like “Potato chip! Potato chip!” I love watching them hang upside down at my bird feeder, and it was fun to watch the same behaviors out in the wild.

American Goldfinch
Upside-down American Goldfinch

Beyond the Backyard

Winter Sunset over Lake Apopka

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It’s been ages since I’ve photographed a good sunset. So last week when I saw some good clouds in the western sky, I headed up to Magnolia Park to photograph the sunset over Lake Apopka. Rich came with me (smart guy, he prefers sunset photography to sunrise photography!) and we enjoyed watching the colors fade in the sky.

Sunset over Lake Apopka
Sunset over Lake Apopka

These images use High Dynamic Range (HDR) in post-processing to extend the tonal range of the image. The first image is a 3-image composite. The bottom photograph is a 7-image composite.

Sunset at Magnolia Park
Sunset at Magnolia Park

Given the cloud conditions, I was fairly happy with this last image. We left about ten minutes after sunset. But it pays to stay later, as we found out as we drove west on the way home, and found ourselves driving into a bright pink after color. It was gorgeous.

That’s the good thing about photography – there’s always something to motivate you to get out and try it again! :)