I’m dismayed by the recent development in our area. Where pine trees once covered the land, yet another development is going in. Where Sandhill Cranes once flew over John’s Lake, signs now stand advertising multi-million dollar lakefront homes. Scenic drives are cluttered by cookie-cutter stucco houses. The Orlando area is expanding, and as it expands it is eating native Florida. As the habitat disappears, so do our birds. I’ve been so excited to occasionally find Eastern Bluebirds on the backroads, but where will they live once the pine trees are all gone? I hadn’t truly appreciated all the undeveloped areas near our house, until they started to be cleared. So I’ve been driving around after work, trying to find “birdy” spots close to home, and I’ve been happy to discover that I can still find native Florida, if I know where to look!
Last night I found my first Common Nighthawk, or at least I think that’s his ID. He was sitting on the top of a sprinkler riser. I had to stack my 1x and 2x teleconverters to get this image. Look at his big eye and tiny beak (yes, that’s a beak on the right side of his face. It’s tiny!) He sat posing for me for a few minutes, then I was surprised to see his long wings unfold as he took to flight. It’s not every day that I get a lifer – and I certainly wasn’t expecting one yesterday!
I love the open grassy areas. Last night the clouds were thick and I didn’t think we’d have a sunset at all, but then they started to clear just as the “golden hour” light started. A few clouds in the background certainly make for attractive landscape shots!
You never know what you’ll find when you’re out exploring. I came across a couple of Burrowing Owls, standing guard on old rusty fenceposts. I love watching these guys. For the longest time they will sit motionless, watching and waiting for only they know what. Then they get distracted and start bobbing their whole bodies up and down. They are so animated! Their changing expressions are hilarious.
As the sun set, the rays illuminated the owl and bathed him in “golden light”. What a great end to the evening!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Lake County Backroads?
Check out my Lake County Backroads 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!