Dyeyo and I felt like going to a new birding spot this morning, and we’d heard good things about the Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area in Lake County, so we drove up there to check it out. It made us realize just how spoiled we are by our Circle B Bar Reserve, which is close to home and offers us such close access to all kinds of birds. Emeralda is more wild, and the marsh grasses have already grown up so much that we really couldn’t see many birds. Far off, we could make out a wild rookery, but we would have had to walk for miles to get there. We should go back in the wintertime when more birds are around.
We were greeted by a Carolina Wren and a Great-Crested Flycatcher. We kept hearing the calls of little birds. Finally we saw two Tufted Titmice, who came out to pose for us:
Although we didn’t see many birds, there were tons of butterflies out. Most didn’t sit still long enough for us to photograph, but this one did.
We drove the wildlife drive through the marsh, and as we really started to get into the marshlands, we saw these Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks. We saw some last week at the Circle B Bar Reserve, too. They’re not-so-common migrants. They’re fun to listen to as they call to each other.
Dyeyo and I went out on a little boardwalk in the middle of the marsh. We saw red-winged blackbirds, grackles, cardinals, and common moorhens all over the place, but not close enough for good pictures. Then I turned around and saw this double-crested cormorant, who had just come up from a fishing dive. He surfaced and took off in just a couple of seconds, barely time to focus and shoot.
As we drove through the marsh, we saw plenty of snowy and cattle egrets. The cattle egrets were in their breeding plumage. They were very skittish, compared to our Circle B birds.
On our way out, we saw two huge soft-shelled turtles, both on the side of the road. We’d never seen soft-shelleds so big before! (Rich saw them and said “cool!”)
Want to learn more about nature photography at Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area?
Check out my Emeralda Marsh Conservation Area page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!