I headed back to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive on Memorial Day weekend. I wanted to say hello to the bird families that are springing up all over the marsh. It was a very pleasant morning!
My first birds were a family of Purple Martins perched on top of a telephone pole. Mama Martin brought in a dragonfly and fed it to one of her two babies. Here you can see the last remnants of the dragonfly disappearing down the baby’s throat!
Next I came across a family of Purple Gallinules. The parents watched carefully over their little black baby. Then Mom brought in a bug to feed the baby.
I saw full-grown Anhinga juveniles throughout the marsh. Then I found this nest with a pair of tiny Anhinga babies. They were begging Mom to regurgitate some food for their breakfast.
I was surprised to find the same Blue-winged Teal and female Ruddy Duck from my last visit. Do these birds realize that they were supposed to head north in early March? Now that it’s almost June, I wonder if they will stick around for the summer.
The Least Bitterns were very active on this morning. I found one wading in the open water, carefully stalking fish. He grabbed three or four fish while I watched. My favorite shot showed his head silhouetted against the blue water.
Nearby, a family of Common Gallinules was taking care of their small family. The small alien-like baby begged for food. Mom offered a small fish. The baby kept dropping it, and Mom kept picking it up and handing it to the baby until the baby finally got it down.
You hear the grackles before you see them. This was a Boat-tailed Grackle mom who landed near some berries to feed her nagging juvenile. It seemed to me that the juvie was big enough to eat the berries for himself. Instead the mother hopped down repeatedly to grab a berry, then hopped up to give it to the juvie. They repeated this berry after berry after berry…
The birds aren’t the only ones having babies. I spotted this pair of dragonflies mating in mid-air as they flew over the marsh waters.
Again I looked for juvenile Barn Swallows waiting to be fed, and again I ended up going for flight shots of the adults. They are fast little fliers! Photographing them in mid-air is a huge challenge.
It was getting hot, and I headed home to the air conditioning. This Blue Jay called goodbye and told me to return soon!
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!