When your first bird of the year is a beautiful male Painted Bunting, you know it’s a good sign. When you turn around and snap a quick Merlin in flight, that’s another good sign. 2021 has got to be better than 2020!
I made it out to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive the second weekend in January. I spent some time wandering around the Lust Road entrance, where I found the bunting and the merlin. Then I proceeded through the drive. There are so many people on it these days!
The stars of the day were definitely the Fulvous Whisling-ducks. They filled the skies again and again, the air resonating with their happy calls. Fulvous are hard to find in Florida, and we’re lucky to have a hotspot so close by.
There always has to be one that doesn’t cooperate, though…these five posed for the camera, and four of them looked to the right. The other one just had to look left!
I didn’t linger at the Crazy U on this visit, but this Blue-gray Gnatcatcher did beg me to stop and take his photo. He was busy looking for bugs for breakfast!
As I rounded the bend at what I’ll always think of as Grebe Corner, this Green Heron stood silently in the reeds. He was super-intent on something and hardly noticed when I stopped to watch him.
The ducks are in town, and I wished I could linger. My favorite duck image of the day was this Ring-necked Duck. A lot of new birders call this the Ring-beaked Duck because of the markings on the beak. Look closer, and you’ll see the brown streak around his neck. That’s why he’s called a Ring-necked Duck! It’s easiest to see in direct sun.
The Fulvous waved goodbye and told me to come back soon. I plan on it! :)
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!