A LAWD Celebrity: The Ash-throated Flycatcher

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I first photographed the Ash-throated Flycatcher at Lust Road in January 2017. The bird returns every year to the same canal at the beginning of the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive (LAWD). Take a look at his range map and you’ll see that, like most of our rarities this winter, this bird is supposed to be out west. Yet one individual (likely the same bird) comes to the same spot in Florida every year. Bird migration is a fun enigma – if only we could ask the birds questions, I think mine would be “Why?”

Well, as his name indicates, this bird is a flycatcher. Birds in the flycatcher family (including our more common winter visitor the Eastern Phoebe) tend to perch on the tops of tree branches, using them as a lookout for spotting bugs. When the flycatcher sees an insect, it darts out, grabs the prey in mid-air, then returns to his perch to eat. On this particular morning in early January, the Ash-throated was doing just that. It made for fun photography as I chased the bird up and down the canal!

Ash-throated Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher when I first spotted him in the trees across the canal
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher – a little lower in the bushes as he waits for a bug
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher: Surprise excursion to the treetop just over my head, where I fought the battle of minimum focusing distance as I begged the bird to move to a better sun angle.
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher: Back on the other side of the canal, perched in yet another tree
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher: Then it was on to a palm, but it didn’t stay long…
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher: This was a nice location, allowing me to clearly see the bird for a few seconds before he darted off again
Ash-throated Flycatcher
Ash-throated Flycatcher playing peek-a-boo behind a bush

So the moral of the story is, if you’re chasing a flycatcher, be prepared to move quickly to keep up with it! Later in the morning, I saw birders trying to spot this rarity. Be patient and watch for an erratic darter – then wait for him to come within range of your camera and enjoy! :)

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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