It’s been a while since I drove through the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, and the winter birds are starting to leave as the residents start to nest. I decided to brave the traffic and venture out in late February. The traffic was pretty crazy but I had a great time anyway. Where else can you see so many kinds of birds?
The morning started out quietly at the Lust Road entrance. A greenie Painted Bunting was posing nicely at the tops of the grasses, and I chatted with another photographer who was enchanted with her fearlessness.
Another photographer said, “excuse me, but I think that’s a bobcat over there!” She was right! I didn’t get focused fast enough for a photo, but she was thrilled to have finally seen one. You know the day will be good when it starts out like that!
A Swamp Sparrow hopped out to say hello. It can be hard to get focused on them before they dive back down into the grasses!
Across the canal, an Osprey flew in with a fish for breakfast. Then just as quickly, he lifted off and flew away. Something tells me that he was invading someone else’s nesting territory! It made for a good flight shot…
The trees at the Crazy U are already filling in with leaves, which will make spotting migrants more challenging. Today the trees were overrun with Palm Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers.
A Great Blue Heron was tending her nest. You could hear the little nah-nah-nah calls of a small baby inside. When I peeked carefully through the side of the nest, I could see the baby moving. Mom regurgitated some food for breakfast for the young ones.
Next I spotted a bird I’ve haven’t seen in a while – a Northern Flicker. They nested a few years back near the Crazy U. This bird was pretty far out in the marsh, and he showed off the yellow colors under his wings as he pecked a tree for sap. He posed at the top of a branch before flying off. Nice bird!
Each time I spotted a Double-crested Cormorant, I peeked closely inside his mouth to see if it was blue yet. A bright blue eye and bright blue mouth are part of his breeding plumage. I finally found one showing off his electric blue hues!
A Northern Harrier flew across the fields in the distance. This was where my new Canon r5’s autofocus really shone. Once it locked focus on the bird, it tracked the bird amazingly well.
A pair of Boat-tailed Grackles landed right outside my window and started making the calls of springtime. Their feathers sparkled with blue and purple hues as they fluffed up their feathers and announced to the world that they are ready to find a mate!
The Black-necked Stilts are back! A few of them have wintered at Lake Apopka, but I’m guessing that the flock of 16 that I saw this morning are new arrivals on their breeding ground. Soon we’ll watch their delicate bills and long legs in beautiful courtship routines…and then we’ll have cute little fuzzballs to photograph!
A pair of Sandhill Cranes flew silently overhead. They are a bird that I don’t get to photograph often in flight at LAWD. It was fun to see them!
The Barn Swallows are back, too! Six of them hung out on the power lines near their bridge roost. Pretty soon it’ll be time for them to be feeding their adorable nagging babies!
I’m so excited that it’s springtime!! :)
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!