Beyond the BackyardLake Apopka

A Morning of Possibilities at Lake Apopka

I got to make an unexpected trip to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive (LAWD) last Friday morning.  When the sunrise looks like this, you know it’s going to be a special day…

Sunrise at LAWD
Sunrise at LAWD.   HDR processing applied.  Photographed on Lust Road.

It was so nice to see the sun after so many days of rain!  The clouds were beautiful in the sky as the sun peeked through.  I loved seeing the reflections of the clouds in the canals that are becoming so familiar to me on the drive.

Sunrise at LAWD
Sunrise at LAWD.  HDR processing applied.  Photographed on Lust Road.

I thought I caught a glimpse of a Yellow-billed Cuckoo in flight as I made my way down Lust Road.  I didn’t get the photo, but the possible-cuckoo was flying with food in its mouth, and it was being chased by a bunch of juvenile grackles.

Then I spotted a Northern Flicker on the power line above my head.  Northern Flickers do breed in Florida, but I don’t seem to see them much in summer.  Of course as I pointed my camera at him, he flew.  I followed him to a distant pole, where his mate was waiting.  Maybe we’ll have baby flickers to photograph soon!

Northern Flicker
Northern Flicker (on left).  Photographed on Lust Road.

A Wood Stork was quietly patrolling the canal area.  He stopped and pulled out a giant fish, which he proceeded to display to all his friends.  All his friends got jealous.  They wanted the fish.  Sometimes it doesn’t pay to show off!

Wood Stork with Fish
Wood Stork with Fish.  Photographed on Lust Road.

I got out at the “Crazy U” to see if I could get closer to the flicker.  Of course he didn’t like that idea.  I spotted an Eastern Towhee in his usual spot, singing at the top of “his” tree.  Listening to his song made me thirsty.  “Drink!  Drink!  Drink your tea!”

Eastern Towhee
Eastern Towhee. Photographed at the “Crazy U” on Lust Road.

A Red-bellied Woodpecker discovered a feast.  A nice clump of ripe berries was his for the taking.  The only catch?  The berries were hanging from a tree branch that didn’t offer easy access.  No problem.  The woodpecker caught ahold of the branch, dangled upside down, and gorged himself on the berries.  Yum!

Red-bellied Woodpecker Eating Berries
Red-bellied Woodpecker Eating Berries. Photographed at the “Crazy U” on Lust Road.

Welland Road is a great spot to look for Least Bitterns.  They like to hang out on the branches sticking out of the water.  An added bonus is the great morning light.  I found a beautiful male who came out and posed for my camera…

Least Bittern.  Photographed on Welland Road.
Least Bittern. Photographed on Welland Road.

Next I spotted a female Red-winged Blackbird making a nest.  She had bits of grass that she was tucking in to make it extra comfortable for her babies.  I would have liked to stay and watch her longer.  She was such an industrious little worker.

Red-winged Blackbird at Nest
Red-winged Blackbird at Nest. Photographed along Welland Road.

Along Interceptor Road were the usual Barn Swallows.  I just love these guys!  On this visit there weren’t really any baby feedings going on.  Some of the birds were just hanging out on a bush.  They were still a joy to photograph.

Barn Swallow.  Photographed along Laughlin Road.
Barn Swallow. Photographed along Laughlin Road by Interceptor.

Another Least Bittern poked his head out to say good morning.  I like the coloring in this image.  It shows how well the bittern can blend into his surroundings.  He’s just another stick when he wants to be!

Least Bittern.  Photographed along Roach Road.
Least Bittern. Photographed along Roach Road.

But the real highlight of the morning was the time I spent with the Pied-billed Grebe family.  Want to see more?  Come back to read my next post! :)

Pied-billed Grebe Mother and Baby
Pied-billed Grebe Mother and Baby

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