First of Fall Painted Bunting at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

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As I got on my bike last week, I heard the familiar call notes of Painted Buntings in the parking lot at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. I looked around until I finally spotted one of the birds doing the calling – a female/juvenile in the top of a tree. Welcome back, little guys! We’ve missed you! (and I am watching for you ever day in my backyard – there’s plenty of millet for hungry travelers!!)

Painted Bunting
Painted Bunting

As I pedaled down Lust Road, a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron was searching for his breakfast. I paused, and he trained that bright red eye on me. I think he prefers to be left alone on days when the cars aren’t around!

Black-crowned Night Heron
Black-crowned Night Heron

A group of Common Gallinules started to swim suspiciously towards each other. They lower their necks to swim very close to the water, then start circling each other when they are about to start a fight. I got ready for the action shot and then laughed as they kicked at each other.

Common Gallinule Ruckus
Common Gallinule Ruckus

At the Crazy U, the usual little birds were hanging around. Yellow Warblers seemed to be everywhere. I must have see at least 10 Yellow Warblers as I looped towards the lake and back. First this one posed near some pink flowers…

Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warbler

…and then a couple of Yellow Warblers posed beautifully on the tops of some grasses. I think they were bathing in the dew droplets under the leaves. It’s convenient when you can take a bath and grab bugs for your breakfast at the same time!

Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warbler

The reddish streaks on the Yellow Warbler’s stomach distinguish him as an adult Northern variety of Yellow Warbler. In contrast, I found a darker warbler down the trail that didn’t have the red streaks. According to Cornell, he’s an immature Northern bird. Now I want to see the Mangrove and Golden varieties!

Yellow Warbler
Yellow Warbler

This Prairie Warbler was getting jealous of all the Yellow Warblers. He told me that he’s also yellow and just as pretty!

Prairie Warbler
Prairie Warbler

My last bird of the morning was a fun surprise. A Pine Warbler! They are year-round residents in Central Florida, but I think he was my first Pine at LAWD. He was in a mixed flock with Yellow, Prairie, and Palm Warblers down by the lake. He reminded me that during migration, good finds can turn up in any tree – so you just have to get out and look for them!

Pine Warbler
Pine Warbler

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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