Beyond the BackyardLake Apopka

Two Cuckoos on a Quest at Lake Apopka

Last weekend two cuckoos loaded up into the Birdmobile and went on a quest to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.  My target was the Yellow-billed Cuckoo.  My dad’s target was the Pied-bied Grebe babies and another visit with Forky.  We both found our birds – and our lifer Mississippi Kite, too!

After photographing the Pied-billed Grebe family at their nest on the day before, I was hoping to find them in the same spot.  Unfortunately for my dad, they had moved out further into the water.  But at least we got to see them.  Such cute little orange spots on those baby faces!

Pied-billed Grebe with Baby
Pied-billed Grebe with Baby

Not far from the grebes we spotted a Common Gallinule nest.  It’s the first I’ve seen built up like this on open water.  Nest-watching is such fun.

Common Gallinule Nest
Common Gallinule Nest

I lost count of the Least Bitterns we saw that morning.  This ended up being my favorite Least Bittern shot because it shows the bird hard at work doing what he does best – surviving!  He’s stealthily stalking his food, moving nothing but his tail as he watches and waits…and them pounces! with a stretch of that long neck.

Least Bittern Stalk
Least Bittern Stalk

We found the Yellow-billed Cuckoo perched nicely on the top of a tree branch on Laughlin Road.  He had a small worm or something in his mouth.  Usually I see Yellow-billed Cuckoos during migration.  But they actually breed in Florida during the summer.  Maybe the worm was for his babies…maybe we’ll get to see the babies in the upcoming weeks…you can never have enough cuckoos! ;-)

Yellow-billed Cuckoo
Yellow-billed Cuckoo

The pond at the east end of Interceptor Road, which has so recently hosted rare birds such as the White-faced Ibis, American White Pelicans, and Red-breasted Merganser, was virtually empty.  I saw a few cormorants on it, and that was about it.  But one of the cormorants decided to take flight, and I caught the take-off action, which I edited together in Photoshop.  It takes a lot of work for that bird to get out of the water!

Double-crested Cormorant Take-off
Double-crested Cormorant Take-off

The Barn Swallows were in their usual places along Interceptor Road.  It’s such fun to get to photograph them sitting still.  When they are not taking care of juveniles, the swallows spend most of their time on the wing.

Barn Swallow
Barn Swallow

We got out to the sod fields and began looking for the rare Fork-tailed Flycatcher that was still hanging around.  Then a few Swallow-tailed Kites flew overhead.  My dad spotted the one that didn’t look like the others – our lifer Mississippi Kite!  He flew pretty high but I got a few quick identification shots.  I can’t wait to get a better look at him.  That’s the best thing about the LAWD – it always leaves you wanting to go back!

Mississippi Kite
Mississippi Kite

My dad’s patience and persistence paid off…the Fork-tailed Flycatcher decided to come closer to pose for my dad’s camera!  It’s funny how I waited to share my Forked-tailed Flycatcher post, hoping for better shots.  Finally I published it, and then on the next visit, I got better shots.  So here’s a teaser for the next post…Forky was a real show-off for us and we had a blast with him! :)

Fork-tailed Flycatcher
Fork-tailed Flycatcher

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2 thoughts on “Two Cuckoos on a Quest at Lake Apopka

  1. So now that Forky is not my nemesis bird the Mississippi kite takes his place. Of course I’d love another chance a a cuckoo. My previous shots have too many sticks in the way. Oh! Great images! 😉

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