I decided to drive the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive on Sunday. I missed my bike! But going by car lets you haul a Beast more easily and gain more efficient access to the Ducks Unlimited towards the end of the drive. The winter ducks are definitely back!
This Roseate Spoonbill has appointed himself to the welcoming committee at the entrance of the drive. He attracted quite the gaggle of photographers as he sifted through the waters to find his breakfast. He’s a juvenile, and it’s clear that his mother never quite taught him to clean his beak before posing for a photograph.
“Phoebe! Phoebe!” This happy little bird greeted everyone in the parking lot. She wouldn’t tell me where the Ash-throated Flycatcher is hiding, though. That’s ok – I know where he has hung out for the past several years. Isn’t it cool that he keeps coming back to the same spot?
At the Crazy U, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers were abundant, but it was this Monarch that caught my eye. With their numbers dwindling across the globe, I try to make my backyard a good habitat for them – and I enjoy their beauty while I can.
As I headed towards the lake, I saw hundreds of ducks take flight. An eagle or falcon must have startled them. The numbers were astounding. I aimed my Beast into a small part of the action, but the resulting image doesn’t do justice to the scene.
Several birds posed close to the road in good light as I continued along the drive. The Green Heron above caught his breakfast while the car in front of me watched, then he continued to pose for me.
This Pied-billed Grebe caught my eye with his rich brown feathers in the golden waters. There was a bit of a breeze that morning, but the waters in the canal were fairly still, resulting in a beautiful mirror-like reflection.
I was excited to come across a Belted Kingfisher very close to my car, and of course, he had the sun at his back. I chuckled when I saw the spider’s web in front of him. He reminded me of my cats, who think they are invisible when sitting behind the sheer curtains!
The ducks have definitely settled in around the lake. I use my binocular to scan the large clusters of birds, then pull out my camera when I find an interesting duck. Like the male Redhead above! Redheads are a good find along Lake Apopka.
The morning wasn’t just about the birds. The marshes are bright yellow with the blooming burr marigolds, and I saw good bunches of purple asters also. A telephoto lens does a great job of blurring the background to contrast the beautiful Florida fall colors! :)
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!