Last Saturday was a beautiful spring morning. I headed out to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive for some nature therapy. Of course my Beast came with me, but it was so great to be outside that I found myself listening and watching more than photographing. Spring migration is largely over, although I saw some Bobolinks and Michael found a few American Redstarts at the Crazy U. The wildlife drive is now full of nesting birds. Come with me and explore…
I saw these Bobolinks as I drove in through the Lust Gate. Bobolinks migrate through Florida each spring and fall. You often see them in large flocks. Or in my case, I heard them before I saw them. They were fairly far out in the field, but I didn’t recognize their calls, so I knew there were migrants around. They let me get a few quick snapshots before they flew farther away.
The Black-necked Stilts came back to Florida several weeks ago, and already they are settling down to nest. I spotted this nest off in the marsh. The bird’s mate stood on guard nearby. It’ll be fun to watch this nest and see the babies grow up!
Speaking of babies, the Common Gallinule chicks are already all over the wildlife drive. They look like adorably ugly little aliens. This one didn’t mind as my car stopped nearby. He stood tall and proud on a bit of branch sticking out of the water, showing me just how much of a big boy he really is. :)
Here’s another Common Gallinule, this one on a nest. The nests are made on the ground out in the middle of the marsh. There isn’t a whole lot to protect the eggs from predators. Maybe that’s why the gallinules lay several clutches of eggs every summer, and every clutch is pretty big.
I was surprised to see a couple of Fulvous Whistling-ducks up close. They are very common at the drive, and I’ve seen groups of several hundreds of ducks fly in the air, but the marsh is big and the birds often hang out far away from the cars. (Smart birds.) I certainly didn’t mind a chance for a close-up.
Another bird that is nesting right now is the Red-winged Blackbird. They make a small cup-shaped nest in a bush, often over water. Sometimes you see the nest being constructed…
…and sometimes you have to look closely to see that the nest is already occupied!
I was happy to find the Interceptor Road part of the drive open again after repairs from Hurricane Irma. Interceptor is where you find the adorable Barn Swallows and their cute begging babies. I had such fun photographing them last year, and I’m looking forward to more fun this summer. In the meantime, here’s a nice adult who posed for me and promised me cute babies soon…
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!