Chasing Rarities: Common Goldeneye and Surprise Buffleheads

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When an eBird report turned up a rare Common Goldeneye bird just north of the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, I asked Rich if he had any errands to run in Apopka. Turns out he did. So we stopped by the pond and found…not much. A few Hooded Mergansers. Some Lesser Scaup. To add insult to photographic injury, the birds were all backlit. I took a few quick snaps and then we stopped at the Magnolia Park boat ramp for sunset.

Lesser Scaups and Hooded Mergansers
Lesser Scaups and Hooded Mergansers
Sunset over Lake Apopka
Sunset over Lake Apopka

If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again! After my next trip to the wildlife drive, I returned to the small park. This time both light and luck were on my side. I found the Common Goldeneye mixed in with a small flock of Hooded Mergansers. The hoodies showed off for my camera while the Common Goldeneye showed me her golden eye.

Common Goldeneye
Common Goldeneye
Hooded Mergansers
Hooded Mergansers

The surprise bonus to the visit was the small flock of Buffleheads swimming on the far side of the pond. Buffleheads are regular visitors to Florida in the wintertime, although they aren’t as easy to find as other wintering ducks. This flock included a couple of male birds, who I’ve only seen once before. They are skittish birds and didn’t let me get close looks, but I certainly left with a big smile on my face!

Buffleheads
Buffleheads

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!

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