My addiction to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive continues! On this particular visit, I scored a first-summer Orchard Oriole and my lifer Cave Swallow (thanks Michael!). Come along and I’ll tell you more…
My first bird of the morning was an Osprey with a big fish. Now, I don’t usually photograph Ospreys on telephone poles. But this seemed like such a big fish! When I got out of my car, the Osprey glanced down at me as if to say, “Nope, I’m not sharing!” One of these days I’m going to take my camera and tripod and set up down by the lake. I know I can get some amazing Osprey flight photos if I have the patience.
Next up was a gorgeous Red-winged Blackbird singing his heart out. You’d think I’d be tired of photographed Red-wings by now, but I’m not. Especially when they are this cooperative!
There’s a little rookery along one of the roads. You can hear the nah-nah-nah nagging calls of baby egrets and herons as you drive past. Well, on this morning, I heard the quiet calls of baby White Ibises. I haven’t heard those calls since Herman took my dad and me out to see the ibis nests. I looked around and spotted the juvenile ibises hanging out on a distant tree. They were branching and trying out those wings. They still have the striped beaks that they are born with. Soon they will be all white and joining my yard crew!
I checked on the Pied-billed Grebe babies. They seemed so much bigger than the previous week! They were more active, too. Mom seemed to be teaching the older baby how to hunt for food. Mom would disappear under the water, then Baby would follow. The second baby seemed content to stay above the surface and be fed tidbits from Mom. Already they look less like babies and more like grebes. I wonder how long the will keep those adorable orange spots and stripes.
The Common Gallinule babies are getting bigger, too. There are still plenty of “alien” babies around, but far more “tweens” and juveniles. This little tween was happy to get a bite from Mom, even though he’s getting big enough to find his food for himself.
Off in the distance I spotted a Double-crested Cormorant on her nest taking care of two fussy, fussy babies. They were both bobbing those long necks as hard as possible, trying to get her to regurgitate some food for them. It never ceases to amaze me how small the Double-crested Cormorant nests are. I hope the babies don’t push each other out as they grow up!
As I was driving along Laughlin, I had my next surprise – an Orchard Oriole hopped out onto a branch and started to sing! Orchard Orioles are typically found in Central Florida only during migration. So this was not an average bird — and it was the first time I had heard an oriole sing! It was really pretty. You can tell from the dark throat that this is a first summer male bird. I asked him to stick around.
Some juvenile Barn Swallows were hanging out on a branch. I caught up with Michael and we hung out with them. This one posed beautifully on this lichen-covered branch.
At first it seemed like Mom wasn’t feeding the juvies anymore, but then there was a rush of feathers and desperate dancing as each juvenile vied to be the recipient of a tasty morsel. I don’t think I will ever get tired of photographing these guys feeding. It’s such fun!
My last stop was at the Interceptor bridge where all the swallows gather. Michael pointed out the Cave Swallow for me. I’ve looked for him before, and only ever seen Barn Swallows. But on this morning, there they all were lined up nicely on the power line…which of these is not like the others?
So it turned out to be a lifer day, which is always a good day. Thanks Michael! I will ask Forky to cooperate for you on your next visit.
Find my birding list from today on eBird.