Beyond the BackyardLake Apopka

Odd Couple at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

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.

Hooded Merganser with Bufflehead
Hooded Merganser with Bufflehead

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.

Great Blue Heron with Catfish
Great Blue Heron with Catfish

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…

Bald Eagle Courtship
Bald Eagle Courtship

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.

Eastern Phoebe
Eastern Phoebe

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…

Palm Warbler
Palm Warbler

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!

Anhinga
Anhinga

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.

Northern Harrier
Northern Harrier

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.

Otter
Otter

eBirdFind my birding list from today on eBird.

2 thoughts on “Odd Couple at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

  1. I love the Apopka Wildlife Drive! I went there a couple of times with my kids last year. We saw a heron eating a snake and lots of ospreys with huge fishes perched on almost every single pole, hahaha. Oh and tons of gators. But my pictures aren’t nearly as good as yours as I only use a small point and shoot camera.

    I really enjoyed this post. I emailed it to my daughter because we’ve been wanting to see otters but haven’t been lucky enough to spot one in the wild. I was just thinking yesterday that I wanted to go back there… I’m going to make sure that I do in the next couple of months.

    Thanks for sharing the photos!

Comments are closed.