Yesterday I went to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive on a flycatcher quest. There have been some great flycatchers reported there recently, most them fairly rare to Central Florida: Ash-throated Flycatcher, Vermilion Flycatcher, Western Kingbird. I intended to park at Lust Road and then walk up to the Crazy U. But I ended up spending my whole morning at the gate, hanging out with good birds and good friends. :)
The Ash-throated Flycatcher is a tease. He likes to hang out at Lust Road, mostly in the trees on the far side of the canal. Periodically he comes in closer, like when he perched on a stick with a piece of tape on it. (Not the most photogenic perch!) Then the silly bird decides that his next meal is more important than my photograph, and he flies off to catch his next bug. He’s a fun challenge to photograph. These were my best shots of him from yesterday…
I think Michael was on a quest for a Grasshopper Sparrow yesterday. The flycatcher settled for a grasshopper instead!
A pair of Hooded Mergansers greeted us early in the morning on the far side of the canal. They proceeded to swim away from us. Silly birds. Always swim toward the photographer, especially when there is no wind and the reflections are beautiful!
The warblers were busy in the trees most of the morning. Michael spotted a couple of Ruby-crowned Kinglets, but they decided to stay buried in the trees. I have very few images of kinglets showing off their ruby crowns. See, there is always a reason to go back, isn’t there? So since the kinglets didn’t cooperate, I took a few consolation photos of a Yellow-rumped Warbler (a.k.a. Butterbutt in Michael vernacular!)
The Eastern Phoebes were jealous. They knew I was on a quest for flycatchers, and phoebes are in the flycatcher family, but as they are a common bird I didn’t take many pictures of them. So I decided to practice some flight shots.
I never get tired of the little Blue-gray Gnatcatchers. They are so cute and such fun to follow as they hop, skip, and jump their way between branches. One day I’m going to nail the shot of a gnatcatcher hovering in mid-air while grabbing a bug. But for today, here’s a perched portrait instead!
The morning was heading towards noon and I started to pack up to leave. On my way out, I spotted two flycatcher-like birds on the power lines on the south side of Lust Road. I hopped out of the car again, grabbed the camera (yep, you always seem to put it away too early!), and headed off to check out the bird. Western Kingbird! We watched it fly off to a tree on the north side of Lust and perch for a while. Not a lifer for me, but this was the first time I’d seen a Western Kingbird at the wildlife drive. A great way to end a fun morning!
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!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!