On Memorial Day I headed to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. It had been a while since I’d gone, and I’d heard about a visiting Fork-tailed Flycatcher. Well, the whole morning was fabulous. Amazing. Incredible. At least for me. I’m not sure it was such a great day to be a bug…
When I first pulled onto Lust Road, I noticed some swallows on the power lines. They were actually sitting still, so I figured they were juvies. A closer look revealed Northern Rough-winged Swallows. A Florida bird for me, what a great way to start the day!
Common Gallinule families are all over the drive right now! I saw some “tweens” but most of the babies are still in that adorably ugly “little alien” phase. Even though they are common birds, I can’t help photographing them. Especially when Mom is handing out breakfast!
Another common bird on the drive right now is the Red-winged Blackbird. I know, I must be crazy. Everybody else was rushing to see the Fork-tailed Flycatcher and I was photographing Red-wings. But they were in such good light! with such great orange and red spots on their wings. I can’t help myself.
Look closely at this next one. A cup nest nestled into some vegetation, a tiny feather-less baby, and Mom giving him a dragonfly for breakfast. It’s a good thing the babies were making quite the racket or I would have driven right past this scene!
A little further down the road, I did a double-take. This Glossy Ibis’s beak wasn’t long enough. He wasn’t big enough. Yep, he’s a juvie! You can still see his juvie beak colors as he gets his glossy feathers.
Not a good day to be a bug, you say? Especially if you’re a dragonfly. I spotted some Purple Martins on the power lines and immediately zoomed in on the one waving around her trophy.
Some distance from the road was a tree with several Double-crested Cormorant nests. Gosh they looked hot as they incubated their eggs in the sun! I’m always amazed at the tiny nests that these birds make. If you look really closely you can see the bird’s brilliant blue mouth, part of his breeding plumage.
Next I came across a snag with this Brown Thrasher singing on the top branch and a White-winged Dove perched below. I hadn’t seen a White-winged Dove on the drive before, although they are pretty common and I’ve seen plenty of them since. This thrasher was just singing his heart out.
I spotted a family of Black-necked Stilts with four babies. The stilts were very protective. They chased away any bird that went anywhere near those babies. Another photographer parked further up the drive and walked back to take pictures of the babies. The birds didn’t seem to like having a person out of the car, either.
In previous years I’ve seen Barn Swallows nesting at Lake Apopka, and I was happy to find more this year. Here’s a shot of one of the adults. Where are the babies, you ask? Don’t worry, you’ll see them soon… :)
I had such a good time! So great, in fact, that I called my dad and we went back to together in the afternoon.
What about the Fork-tailed Flycatcher, you ask? Well, that will be another post. ;-)
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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