It’s hot outside! We’re getting to the point in summer where there are fewer birds and fewer photographers. The trick is to get out early and enjoy the early mornings. I headed to Lake Apopka in mid-July and my first bird was an Osprey that had grabbed himself a fish for breakfast. He accidentally grabbed a stick with his fish. I told him he’s too late for this year’s nesting season and a little early for next year’s!
Plenty of Least Bitterns were also fishing that morning. This one hopped to a low stick very close to the road. He was fun to watch as he moved his tail in circles and stalked his prey. That long neck gets longer as he spots his target and waits to pounce!
The Black-necked Stilts are growing up quickly. A family with two adults and three babies was hanging out on the road. They eyed me warily as I got out of the car and down to eye-level. I wonder if the tiny Common Gallinule chicks think the stilts are giants with those long longs!
A handful of Bank Swallows have been consistently reported at the wildlife drive this summer. On my last visit, I thought I had seen one. This time, I was absolutely certain. He hung out on the power line with a bunch of Barn Swallows.
After being on the lookout for Fulvous Whistling-Duck babies for several years, I finally found some! Three families with babies, no less. Tiny babies, juveniles, and almost-fully-grown. All of them were splashing around, diving underwater, and then flapping their wings. It was such fun to watch them.
My last bird of the day is getting ready to migrate. A small flock of about 10 Swallow-tailed Kites flew over the sod fields in the late morning. They ride the thermals and grab bugs in mid-air as they prepare for their long flight back to Brazil for the winter. While their numbers were small compared to 2017, they were still a joy to watch.
The first of fall Belted Kingfishers have already been spotted on the wildlife drive. So have the first warblers. It’s time to brave the heat and get out there!
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!
Wonderful pictures!!! I love them!! Any suggestions on where to find a Fulvous Whistling Duck at Lake Apopka? How far along the drive did you go to locate them?
They can be found all over the drive. Watch the skies for fly-overs. It helps to listen to sound recordings to help you recognize their calls. I often see them along Lust Road towards the lake shore, along Welland Road, and along Laughlin Road (map is here). Also check the left side of Interceptor Road. Good luck finding them on your next visit!