Beyond the BackyardLake Apopka

Eyes to the Skies at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

It was one of those mornings when my eyes kept going to the skies.  There were so many birds flying around at the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.  You know when your day starts off with an Osprey carrying a giant catfish, it’s going to be a good day…

Osprey with Catfish
Osprey with Catfish

As I turned into the Crazy U, I spotted a juvenile Northern Flicker on the power line.  A few weeks ago, I saw the parents in the same place.  It was my first juvie flicker.  He’s cute!

Juvenile Northern Flicker
Juvenile Northern Flicker

I walked a bit in the Crazy U.  It wasn’t so crazy that morning.  The Eastern Towhee was singing in his usual tree, and Red-winged Blackbirds were feeding their young.  These juveniles were just itching for a bug.  Often Mom shoos the babies away as soon as she sees me, but this family was a little more trusting. Or I was further away. ;-)

Juvenile Red-winged Blackbirds
Juvenile Red-winged Blackbirds

I stopped by the Grackle Nursery to check on the fledglings.  There were so many juvenile Boat-tailed Grackles sitting out on the treetops!  All of them were begging for Mom and Dad to bring in breakfast.  Something tells me that those parents are about ready to tell the juvies to go and find their own food!  (As a matter of fact, the Grackle Nursery has been empty on my subsequent visits.  I guess the juvies got the message.)

Juvenile Boat-tailed Grackle
Juvenile Boat-tailed Grackle

I don’t normally photograph the Osprey right above my head, but when he puffs up and shakes his feathers, well, he’s pretty.  He did me a favor and didn’t poop on me.

Osprey Head Shot
Osprey Head Shot

Fulvous Whistling Ducks kept flying overhead.  Often they stay far away, so it was fun to get some closer shots.  They don’t have the same happy laugh as their black-bellied cousins, but I still like photographing them.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck in Flight
Fulvous Whistling-Duck in Flight

I checked on the Pied-billed Grebe babies. Except they are not really babies anymore!  The juvenile birds are almost as big as Mom and Dad.  One juvie was off to himself.  The other was nagging Mom for breakfast.  They were still doing their baby chirping call that you can hear from a long distance away.

Juvenile Pied-billed Grebe
Juvenile Pied-billed Grebe Begging Mom for Food

Don’t laugh at me.  I probably took 500 pictures of the next bird.  How often does a Green Heron pose right next to your car?  They usually fly away any time I get near.  So I took advantage of his posing…

Green Heron
Green Heron

…and got a few (hundred) head shots!

Green Heron Head Shot
Green Heron Head Shot

It’s interesting to review these types of images on a computer.  As you move from frame to frame, you notice the minuscule motions in the bird’s beak, eyes, and head.  They are such good hunters, always on the lookout for food.

Someone else is always on the lookout – the Black-necked Stilts are watching for people who might be coming near their nests!  I happened across a stilt sitting in the middle of the road.  He was ok, just resting.  I got out a good distance away to take a few photos.  Then he noticed me and decided to bolt.

Black-necked Stilt in Flight
Black-necked Stilt in Flight

I saw lots of flying birds that morning, but one of my favorites hasn’t learned to fly yet.  Or at least, he’s not practicing much.  Meet one of the many juvenile Least Bitterns at the wildlife drive.  It seems like it’s a bit harder to find bitterns these days, but if you peer into enough clumps of reeds, they are definitely still there.  The juvies often have patches of white downy feathers.  So cute!

Juvenile Least Bittern
Juvenile Least Bittern

So that was the end of another visit to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.  I love how close it is and how often I get to go visit.  It’s fun following the wildlife stories from week to week.  You always get a surprise when you’re there!

Seriously, you didn't think you'd seen the last of the Green Heron, did you? Here is a fixed gaze staring straight at you! Have a good day, everybody!
Seriously, you didn’t think you’d seen the last of the Green Heron, did you? Here is a fixed gaze staring straight at you! Have a good day, everybody!

 

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