Last Sunday I went to Lakeland to see if the winter ducks were back at Lake Morton. Yep! The lake had some Ring-necked Ducks, some Ruddy Ducks, and even a few Lesser Scaup. Add in a few American White Pelicans and a fun new camera, and I had a great morning! :)
I arrived at Lake Morton about twenty minutes before sunrise, hoping for dramatic colors and pretty reflections in the pre-dawn moments. But the weather didn’t cooperate. (That seems to be a growing trend!) It was cloudy and foggy and gross. I barely took 10 shots for the next hour and a half. So I was surprised when I got home and saw that I did capture some sunrise behind a pelican. The pelicans spent the rest of the morning preening on a brick wall.
As the sun finally peeked out, I found one of the few Lesser Scaups. He was out in the middle of the lake, in the middle of some Ruddy Ducks. While I was focused on him, he obliged me with a nice take-off. I stitched his take-off together in Photoshop.
The Wood Ducks are at Lake Morton year-round. They are used to people, so they are not as timid as normal Wood Ducks. This one hugged the vegetation for a good part of the morning, then finally swam out into the open water for a few seconds. Nice bird.
The stars of the morning were the Ring-necked Ducks. They were out in fairly good numbers, and they the most cooperative in swimming near the shore. I lay down on the stinky grass to photograph them at eye level. When a group of them swam by bathing, I knew I was in for some good luck. Bathing ducks almost always finish their baths with a nice wing-flap. The female Ring-necked Duck wing-flap is above, and the male is below.
The Ring-necked Duck male is one of the prettiest ducks I photograph. You can really see his ring around his neck as he flaps his wings in the glistening sunlight. This was by far my favorite shot of the morning. It’ll be fun to return to Lake Morton to see if the Buffleheads return this year. I’ve yet to see a male Bufflehead!
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!