A bike ride at Lake Apopka is like a box of chocolates – you never know what you’re going to get!
Last week I started pedaling down Lust Road to find myself stopping quickly to gawk at the beauty overhead. A juvenile Bald Eagle was perched over the power lines. Based on his coloring and eye stripe, my Sibley’s identifies him as a third-year juvenile. He sat quietly, unimpressed by the crazy photography below him. Then something caught his attention and he lifted his wings to fly.
I will confess to some Photoshop trickery in that image. Hoping that he’d fly off, I remembered to zoom out before he raised his wings, so I didn’t clip any of his beautiful wings. But I did remove the power line that cut diagonally through his wing. It just didn’t do justice to such a magnificent, powerful-looking bird!
I got a few flight shots as he left, and thought I was done photographing him for the day.
Then I heard him calling with his mate across the marsh. Intrigued, I looked far in the distance and found both eagles now perched in an old Osprey nest. (Wouldn’t it be cool if they raised their family there!?!?). I clicked a few shots, figuring that I would delete them as soon as I got them on the computer. The birds were just tiny dots in a distant tree. It wasn’t till I post-processed the image that I understood why the birds were fussing…
I continued down the trail, stopping again when I spotted some Northern Flickers on the wires. The soft morning light was gorgeous on this one as he looked down at me.
Then his buddy flew towards me, flashing those gorgeous yellow wings as he flew past. I did a little happy dance when I saw this next one on the computer screen.
My last flight shot of the morning was down by the lake. One of the many Ospreys was perched on a phone pole, watching the canal below for a sign of his breakfast. He suddenly took flight, and I loved the concentration in his eyes as he dived towards the water. Maybe next time I’ll get the splashdown shot!
Yesterday evening we were pleased to welcome a family of Eastern Bluebirds into the backyard. These birds love our birdbath with its water dripper. They were regular visitors in the early spring, and haven’t been around as much through the summer. So it was much to our delight that we saw them again. I’ll recap the conversation to give you a sense of our excitement:
It’s a bluebird!
Wait, there are four! Three in the birdbath and one on the birdcam!
There’s one on the back feeder too!
<squeals, squeals, happy dance>
SIX! There are six of them!!
It was fortuitous that I had cleaned the windows in the morning. I dashed to grab my camera, then focused through the glass as the birds flew around in the backyard.
There was just one problem. A Northern Mockingbird has decided that the nearby American Beautyberry bush belongs exclusively to him. Having these six outsiders so close to his territory annoyed him. So he dove into the middle of the bath party and tried to scare them away.
Lucky for me, they didn’t go far.
I alternated between squealing and pressing the shutter button as the bluebirds flew back and forth between trees, shrub tops, and my bird feeders. The sun had already set and the light was fading quickly, but I got a few shots of individual birds:
The mockingbird thought he won the battle when the birds left, but I think they’ll be back. I hope I can sneak outside and catch them with the Beast in some better light!
With each of my bike rides, I find more and more wintering birds at the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. Like these Blue-winged Teal that are showing up in the canals and overhead. Flight shots of these guys are fun as they reveal the beautiful blue color on their wings.
At the Crazy U, the usual Common Ground Doves were hanging out on the ground (yes, they are aptly named). Then they heard me stop pedaling and spooked into the nearby trees. If you listen closely to the sound of their wings in flight, you’ll learn to identify these little guys by sound alone.
My first-of-fall Savannah Sparrow hopped out behind the dove to greet me. Just like I said a few weeks ago about Palm Warblers, it’s fun to see the first one, and it won’t be long before we’ll be complaining “just another Savannah! I wanted a Grasshopper Sparrow!” (Patience, Grasshopper!)
I concentrated on photographing different birds that hadn’t been featured on the blog recently. So I was quite happy to find the Peregrine Falcon perched on a power line near the lake. He’s back! I’ve seen others report him for several weeks now, but this was the first time he showed himself to me.
I approached him slowly, wanting to get closer for a fun shot. Then he spotted something in the distance and took off, giving me a great flight shot opportunity. Such a fun bird!
I had to save the best for last. As I pedaled back to the entrance, I came across a turtle on the side of the road. Rich’s favorite critter is a great way to end another beautiful visit to Lake Apopka!