After the golden light faded from my last post, I spent a fun morning in Lakeland enjoying the ducks around Lake Morton. I love visiting that area. You can always find fun light conditions, and the springtime bird plumage is the best!
My first bird of the morning was this White Ibis coming into breeding plumage. The clouds were soft and pink and purple behind him. Look at his bright blue eye. He’s all ready to find a mate!
This is a juvenile male Wood Duck. If you look closely at his face, he’s beginning to acquire the brilliant colors of the adult male. The sun was still doing the golden-light reflection magic, and he looks like he’s swimming in a lake of fire.
The best bird of the morning was this female Redhead duck. Redheads are a good find in Central Florida in winter. She tormented me by swimming in the shadows, then took pity on me and gave me a sun-lit wing-flap!
The Redhead wasn’t the only duck showing off for the camera. Many Mallard/Mottled/muddled mixes chased each other mercilessly in the middle of the lake. (Yep, try saying that five times fast!). I think the birds know that spring is right around the corner!
Often I find Ruddy Ducks here, but they often hang out in the middle of the lake. This one obligingly came close to the shore to say hello to me. Give it another month or two and his beak will be bright blue. I can’t wait!
The light played with me all morning, alternating between cloudy and sunny. I rather liked the soft light on this Muscovy Duck.
On the shore of the lake, this Great Blue Heron stood quietly. You can see a hint of his blue mandible for his breeding plumage. Often there’s a nest or two up in the cypress trees. You normally hear the babies long before you see them!
Ring-billed Gulls hung out on the lake shore as well. I loved the soft light and the muted blue tones of the lake behind him. Look at that red-lined eye! Yes, everybody is getting spiffy and ready for spring!
Ring-billed Ducks were everywhere! Males and females lazed in the water near the shore. As the sun rose, there was plenty of preening and lots of bathing. A good wing-flap almost always follows the bath!
Several pairs of Wood Ducks swam by. It’s clear that they have paired up for nesting season. I can’t wait to go back and watch their little fuzzy chicks learn to swim! (well, actually, ducklings are born knowing how to swim…but they are adorable to watch as they swim in a row behind Mom.)
Overall it was a gorgeous morning to be outside, even if the cold winds did keep me shivering! I’ll leave you with this image of an American White Pelican eating a lily pad. I’m always amused to see the inside of their giant pouches. Didn’t his mother tell him not to chew with his mouth open? :)
Want to learn more about nature photography at Lake Morton?
Check out my Lake Morton 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!
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You had a really nice morning downtown!
All of the photographs are excellent quality of course, but for sheer fun it’s hard to beat a pelican with a pouch full of salad!