The weather was cloudy and rainy on Saturday morning, so I didn’t want to venture miles from my car with heavy camera equipment. I opted for a trip to Lake Morton, where I knew I could find cute babies. I knew I’d be too early for swan cygnets, which probably won’t hatch till late April or early May. But with all the ducks at the Lake Morton menagerie, there were bound to be at least a few chicks…and there were!
My friend Kim posted some really fun shots of baby ducklings on Lake Morton. She thinks that these cuties were an Easter gift that got dropped off at the lake. Poor birdies – they don’t deserve to be bought because they are cute, then abandoned because they don’t make good pets. But at least they ended up at a place where they might survive. They can join other ducks on the lake, and there’s never a lack of bread and other goodies from lake-walkers! They were nestled in the grass when I walked up, so I didn’t even notice them at first. I think I surprised them, and they took to the water. I quickly backed off, then sat down to enjoy the show as they calmed down and then started splashing. Eventually they made their way back up on land, when they posed together before settling down for a nap. How cute.
Duck, Duck, Goose!
Lake Morton is known as a menagerie among local birders. You can find a variety of ducks, geese, and gulls there, and they all just love the handouts of bread that are frequently tossed out by friendly Lakeland residents. The ducks especially interbreed and the result is a colorful mixture of characters.
Yesterday I was excited to find a couple of Ruddy Ducks close to shore. My first Ruddy Duck was a few years ago at the Circle B Bar Reserve, when my dad and I came across a female on a very foggy morning. Since then I’ve been on a quest for a male, who has a great blue beak. Not only did I get my male at Lake Morton, but I got a wing flap to boot! Nice!
The white ducks at Lake Morton often congregate in groups of three to beg for food. I call them the “Three Stooges.” They follow me around and make me feel so guilty for not bringing bread to share with them. This one has a tuft of feathers on the back of the head, part of the breeding plumage. I told him that he was going on my blog with the caption “Marshmallow Head!” Although I guess he looks more like a cotton ball head…
The Trumpet Trees have just bloomed at Lake Morton, and their yellow flowers were scattered underneath the trees. I loved it when the birds wandered under those trees. Then I found the spot where there were both purple and yellow flowers. A very sweet pair of ducks kept me company as I sat and shot in that spot for about an hour. This was my favorite image.
Last year I made a trip to Lake Morton just to see the newly arrived Black-Necked Swans. It was a gray icky morning and I didn’t get the shots that I wanted. On this particular morning, it was so easy. One of the swans was asleep in the grass. I walked up to him, got down on my knees, and took his picture. Easy!
Some of my favorite babies at Lake Morton are some of the most common. There may be dozens of baby Mallards, but each one is tiny miracle. I love it when Mom takes them out on the lake and they all gather around her. This mom had six little chicks that she was teaching to hunt. They bobbed up and down the shoreline, going into the sand to scrounge for insects. Papa didn’t seem to be nearby. Maybe he had the other half of the brood somewhere else on the lake! They certainly put a smile on my face as I packed up and headed to my car.
Coming tomorrow…there were seven baby Limpkins at Lake Morton too! :-D
Want to learn more about nature photography at Lake Morton?
Check out my Lake Morton 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!