Flight Shots around Lake Apopka

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Lake Apopka

On the morning that I photographed the purple pole vaulters, I also enjoyed lots of flight shot opportunities with birds from the south side of Lake Apopka. It was one of those mornings that an intermediate telephoto lens was just perfect. You never know when a pair of Black-bellied Whistling-ducks will fly by!

Black-bellied Whistling-ducks
Black-bellied Whistling-ducks

The Rock Pigeons that showed up in Whiskey’s backyard must be friends with the pigeons near the lake. Or maybe the pigeons are big fans of the lady that brings them bread every morning. As soon as she showed up, birds started flocking in.

Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon

This Osprey wasn’t interested in the free food. He spent a good part of the morning in the Snail Kite’s tree. Then his buddy showed up and they fought over who got to perch in the tallest part of the cypress tree. There was much screeching involved.

Osprey
Osprey

Sometimes it’s about being in the right place at the right time. I’d been out on the dock looking for the snail kite. I headed back towards my car, turned around, and whoosh! this Red-shouldered Hawk flew by.

Red-shouldered Hawk
Red-shouldered Hawk

The alligator flags were pull of Purple Gallinules and juvenile grackles. Everybody was calling and the marshes echoed with the bird sounds. The loudest birds were the juvies, who didn’t seem to realize how scruffy they look in their summer molt!

Grackle
Grackle – who’s the scruffy one?

I wandered back out on the dock. At the end, a pair of Tricolored Herons were playing Musical Railings. It was an adult and a juvie heron. The adult swooped in to scare off the juvie, who flew in a big circle and perched on the opposite end of the dock. Then the adult chased him off again. And again. Finally both of them took off.

Tricolored Heron
Tricolored Heron with his landing gear ready

Finally I caught a glimpse of the Snail Kite. She flew in close, at one point flying straight towards my camera lens. She didn’t have an apple snail with her, but she showed off her sharp beak that’s specially curved to help her extract snails from their shells.

Snail Kite
Snail Kite

The Snail Kite headed out to the lake and I headed back to my air-conditioned car. You know you’ve had a good morning when you’re already thinking about going back! :)

Purple Pole Vaulters!

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I love watching the Purple Gallinules at this time of year. The alligator flags are tall and full of purple blooms and purple birds! The colorful adults are gorgeous and the juveniles are starting to show their beautiful colors.

Purple Gallinule
Purple Gallinule

They walk carefully out to the edge of a reed to nibble at the flowers. Sometimes the weight of the bird is too much and the reed falls over. It always makes me think of pole vaulting. :)

Purple Gallinule
Purple Gallinule

This adult reached very carefully to grab a purple flower. The birds chatter to each other and the whole marsh comes alive with their calls. “No, I haven’t fall in the water yet!”

Purple Gallinule
Purple Gallinule

This bird paused his breakfast for a few minutes to stare at me. I love the pale colors of the juveniles, a promise of the bright colors that they will be sporting next year.

Purple Gallinule
Purple Gallinule

This juvenile was fearless. He wandered very close to me and let me take some head shots. I love the light and the look of curiosity on his face.

Purple Gallinule
Purple Gallinule

If you have a pond with alligator flags growing near your house, check it out. You may get a chance to chuckle at these fun birds!

Backyard Birding

Posted 1 CommentPosted in Birds

The cats and I spent some time in our backyard in mid-August. They watched lizards and I watched birds. Everybody had fun!

The cardinals have had a productive summer. This is our third clutch of baby cardinals. We have at least two nesting pairs who bring their babies into the backyard for the safety of our hedges and the birdseed in our feeders. I caught a glimpse of Papa Cardinal feeding Baby C deep inside our beautyberry bush…

Northern Cardinal - Papa and Baby
Northern Cardinal – Papa and Baby

The cardinals aren’t the only ones raising a family in our backyard. Blue Jays, Brown Thrashers, even Eastern Bluebirds periodically stop by the birdbath. So do the Mourning Doves, whose juveniles have already learned to call “look out below” as they come in for food!

Mourning Dove
Mourning Dove

A small motion at the edge of the hedge caught my eye, and I grinned as a bunny hopped out. He too grew up in our backyard this summer. These guys always remind me of my mom’s stories of her pet rabbits.

Backyard Bunny
Backyard Bunny

The last bird sent the boys scurrying to update their life list. A Rock Pigeon may not be the most glamorous bird ever, but it does make the 62nd species that we’ve observed in our backyard. Squirt especially liked watching them – the bigger birds are easier to see as he chatters out a friendly hello!

Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon