Last week I finally had a chance to take my dad to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. It was one of those cold winter mornings when it was nice to be able to bird from the warmth of the car. Although some of my best shots were taken when we left the car behind and walked the berm roads.
Our best birds of the morning were the “odd couple” – a male Hooded Merganser and a female Bufflehead. I spotted them in the distance on the initial leg of the wildlife drive. They were really far away, but how often do you see a hoodie and a bufflehead? (For that matter, in Central Florida, how often do you see a Bufflehead?) This was my best shot of the odd couple.
This Great Blue Heron had a catfish for breakfast. It doesn’t look too appetizing to me, but he wasn’t picky. He repeatedly picked it up, tossed it around, dropped it a few times, and angled it just so before executing the fatal gulp.
Love is in the air for the Bald Eagles in Florida. I spotted this pair of eagles flying towards us, moving together in a courtship ritual that was fun to watch. I hoped they would do their “lock talons” move but they didn’t. It’s funny how the birds always leave me with an enticement to return…
The Eastern Phoebes were plentiful along the shore of Lake Apopka. This one obliged me by posing in a bush while he looked around for his breakfast. Then he dove away to grab an insect in mid-air.
Although the marshes seem to be covered in Palm Warblers, and I have more photos than I care to remember, I always enjoy photographing them. Their little tail-bobs and their happy calls always remind me how good it is just to get outside and move around. Sometimes photographing the “common” birds is rewarding in surprising ways. For example, I hadn’t seen the ladybug on the bottom of these flowers until I blew this image up on the computer…
Anhingas were sunning themselves all over the wetlands. They weren’t quite into their breeding plumage yet. I bet the warm sun felt good on their cold wet feathers!
We came across several Northern Harriers flying around. This was another species that was easier to photograph when I was out of the car. I haven’t had too many opportunities to photograph harriers so this was a fun morning for me.
As we made our way to the wildlife drive exit, this river otter hopped out of the water and trotted across the road. He went into the water, stayed down there for a second, and then crossed the road again. The second crossing was very nice of him, as it gave me time to stop the car and get out with my camera. I love how happily he seems to bound across the road. He reminded me very much of my cat Whiskey.
Find my birding list from today on eBird.
Want to learn more about nature photography at Lake Apopka?
Check out my Lake Apopka 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!
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