A quiet walk at dawn is wonderful, especially when it’s been ages since you’ve been out. Fall migration is underway, and I headed to Orlando Wetlands to re-acquaint myself with my camera and see what I could see.
After a gorgeous sunrise (more on that in another post), I couldn’t resist photographing a few bird silhouettes. A Little Blue Heron and a Boat-tailed Grackle both posed on trees right in front of me, with the glow of sunrise behind them. I felt like I was saying hello to old friends. All around me were the typical wading birds, and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks sang as they flew in the early morning light.
I heard this group of four sandpipers before I saw them. They flew in as a group and landed fairly far off the trail. I snapped a photo and then dug for my teleconverter. A Great Blue Heron fly-over startled them and they scattered before I got a closer look. I’m pretty sure they were migrating Semipalmated Sandpipers.
This little Common Yellowthroat (also known as Zorro in my family!) hopped around in the reeds and gave me some much-needed refresher training in finding and focusing with the Beast. This is a juvenile bird, just molting into his adult plumage. He was foraging for breakfast. He jumped from branch to branch in search of ants and spiders.
You know you haven’t been out in a while when you photograph everything. Like this frog hanging out in the yellowthroat’s bush…
…and these pretty grasses in the marsh…
Every bit of the marsh was just teeming with life, and I smiled to myself thinking of someone who recently remarked, “it’s too hot to go out, and there’s nothing to shoot!” I focused on a flower and was amazed to find three bees and one tiny worm sitting on the flower’s tiny petals.
It’s pretty easy to find Purple Gallinules at Orlando Wetlands, and at this time of year, you can find juvenile birds who are starting to get their adult plumage. This one was playing leapfrog across the marsh plants.
Then I came across a small flock of Barn Swallows. They were flying around like crazy, and the light was too low to try to get any flight shots. Photographing swallows in flight requires a lot of patience! I’ve heard some people ask incredulously, “do they ever land?” Well, on this morning, they sure did! They descended upon some reeds to preen. My camera went click-click-click as I took advantage of the unusual opportunity.
The swallows may have landed, but they seemed incapable of sitting still. They preened, flapped their wings, flew from reed to reed, and when they weren’t doing any of the above, they were looking all around. The image below was snapped as another bird flew under this bird while he was stretching his wing…
The Belted Kingfishers are back in Florida! They are some of the first migrants that I notice each year. At least three of them were playing Musical Treetops. One would land, then another would chase him away, over and over and over again. The Black-bellied Whistling Ducks looked on in amusement…
It’s always fun trying to capture the kingfishers in flight. They were making quite the racket as they chased each other!
This Red-winged Blackbird posed on top of the cattails. He made me laugh as he sat there with his mouth wide open. Usually I have to time the shots just right to capture their mouths open while they sing. This guy made it too easy for me!
All too soon, the sun was baking and the heat made me head back to my car. It was so great to be back out there! I’m definitely looking forward to cooler weather and our winter birds. The warblers will be back in my yard in just a few weeks! :)
Want to learn more about nature photography at Orlando Wetlands Park?
Check out my Orlando Wetlands Park 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!