Two weekends ago I enjoyed a nice quiet walk around Lake Morton. I was hoping for swan babies, but I’m not likely to see those this year, as the city of Lakeland is removing the babies from the nest as soon as they hatch. It’s very sad. But there are lots of other fun birds at Lake Morton to make it worth a trip. Springtime is definitely the best time of the year there!
When I arrived at sunrise, the golden light of the sun was just beginning to shine on the creatures of the lake. A lone American White Pelican was lounging on the brick wall near where I parked. He sat there the entire time that I was there! He didn’t seem to mind me, and he let me take some nice head shots. Then a pair of Wood Ducks flew in and started preening. What an odd trio! The pelican didn’t seem to know what to think of his new neighbors. The ducks didn’t care what the pelican thought.
When I made my second pass around the lake, the pelican did the funniest thing. It was a combination yawn/jaw stretch. Look at the inside of his pouch, all stretched over his chest! Then he turned and gave me the best shot of the inside of his pouch. Fish for breakfast, anyone?
The hundreds of ducks that wintered at Lake Morton have all flown north to their summer homes. Except for a few stragglers. This Ring-necked Duck is likely the same one that has summered at Lake Morton for the past two years. He stays behind even though all his friends and family fly north. Sometimes I’d love to be able to talk to these birds to understand them. Maybe he just likes the weather down here!
A few female Ruddy Ducks were also lingering at the lake. It won’t be long before they leave too. The Ruddy Ducks are smaller than most ducks, and they tend to hang out further away than the other ducks. So they are pretty easy to spot. This one was sunning herself on the shore, and when she noticed me she decided it was time for a swim.
This little Muscovy Duck was just as sweet as could be. I like to think that she’s one of Father Goose’s adopted kids. She came up to me all curious about my camera, and she stuck around, probably hoping that I’d feed her. I loved her pure white feathers and innocent little face. She kept herself in the shade, and I really wanted to photograph the sun’s gleam on her feathers. So I’d lead her out into the sunny spot a few feet away. Then I’d quickly back up to compose my shot. She just didn’t understand the concept of staying! Like a friendly dog (or Whiskey Loopy!), she’d come running back to me. “You’re spoiling my shot!”, I’d say to her with a smile. She probably thought I was spoiling her breakfast! :)
Turtles were sunning themselves all along the lakeshore. Usually they dive into the water as soon as a person approaches. But this one didn’t care about me. So Rich got his turtle fix for the day. :)
Of course it’s impossible to visit Lake Morton without seeing all the Mallard mixes in the Morton Menagerie. On this particular morning, there was a lot of bathing action going on. Flapping is fun to photograph. I really liked this shot, how the duck almost appears to be waving at the camera. “So long, see you next time!”
Maybe next time there will be babies. :)
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!