Beyond the Backyard

Signs of Spring at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

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It’s my favorite time of year – spring! All over, the birds are putting on their spiffiest feathers, pairing up, and raising cute little babies. It’s such fun to capture all those interactions. It’s been a while since I went to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, so yesterday I headed out to see what I could find…

This Anhinga posed right next to my car in gorgeous morning light and showed off his beautiful blue eye. He seemed to know I was taking his picture and even gave me a good head angle!

Anhinga Head Shot
Anhinga Head Shot

I was a little surprised to find this pair of Great Blue Herons building a nest. The herons at Viera have been nesting for several months, and already some of the nests have hatched. This pair was just starting out. One is a juvenile bird so I wonder if this is a “practice” nest. Or maybe we’ll get to hear the persistent “neh-neh-neh” of baby herons at this location in a month or two!

Nesting Great Blue Herons
Nesting Great Blue Herons

All the Pied-billed Grebes have the beautiful bright black markings on their faces and beaks. I didn’t spot any nests, but I’m hoping that they build some close to the road again this year. Watching the babies is such fun!

Pied-Billed Grebe in Breeding Plumage
Pied-Billed Grebe in Breeding Plumage

I still haven’t found the White-faced Ibis that I see reported on eBird, but there were plenty of Glossy Ibis along the drive. They too have beautiful blue faces at this time of year. I enjoyed watching this one stalk his breakfast in the tall grasses.

Glossy Ibis in Breeding Colors
Glossy Ibis in Breeding Colors

All over the place, Red-winged Blackbirds were giving the calls of springtime. They perch high in their nesting location to proclaim their territory. I love watching them fluff up their feathers as they call. I’m looking forward to photographing more baby blackbirds this year.

Red-winged Blackbird
Red-winged Blackbird

A small flock of Caspian Terns was hanging out on Interceptor Road. Each time a car would go by, they’d take flight. I grabbed my intermediate telephoto and enjoyed each opportunity!

Caspian Terns
Caspian Terns

This little Green Heron also gave me some flight opportunities. I took his picture as I photographed the subject of my next post. You know it was a good morning when you get multiple blog posts out of it! Stay tuned… ;-)

Green Heron in Flight
Green Heron in Flight
Beyond the Backyard

An Unexpected Encounter

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Last Saturday I was photographing at the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive when I had an interesting and unexpected encounter. I noticed a pair of Blue-winged Teal and thought how pretty they looked in the bright morning light. I knelt down, hand-holding the Beast, and followed them as they swam across the water. The male is especially pretty, so I was happy when he swam off on his own…

Blue-winged Teal Male

Then suddenly, he perked up and swam straight at me.

Teal with an Attitude!

Next thing I know, he had swum up to the female and climbed on her back. It didn’t look comfortable as he reached down and bit her neck with his beak.

Blue-winged Teal Courtship

“But it’s only January!!” I thought as the birds ensured the continuation of their species. It only lasted a couple of seconds, but the poor female was trapped under the water with the male biting at her the whole time.

Then as quickly as it started, the male swam off, and that was that!

I guess springtime is just around the corner! :)