Another Early June Bike Ride at Lake Apopka

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I really enjoyed my photography on the week that Rich and I took off after Memorial Day. I went out every single day! On this particular morning, I stuck the bike in my car and headed up to Lake Apopka. I enjoyed the wide-open roads and absence of cars along with the birdlife that also seemed to enjoy the peace and quiet.

My first bird of the morning was a hungry Great Blue Heron. He had just caught a cat fish on the edge of the canal. Apparently his mother didn’t teach him to chew with his mouth closed!

Great Blue Heron with Fish
Great Blue Heron with Fish

Next a Black-necked Stilt flew overhead. I quickly stopped, focused, and got a full-frame image. I love bike birding!

Black-necked Stilt
Black-necked Stilt

From the top of a telephone pole, an Osprey called good morning. He also told me that the was busy eating his breakfast and that I shouldn’t expect him to fly any time soon.

Osprey eating Breakfast
Osprey eating Breakfast

They had just mowed the grass along the sides of the roads. Purple Gallinules were everywhere. Shorter grass makes it easier to see their big feet as they hunt for bugs.

Purple Gallinule
Purple Gallinule

I spotted a Green Heron perched on a snag in the marsh. You can see from his coloring how well he blends in. Just an extension of the tree branch, right? Look at all the dragonflies on the nearby branches!

Green Heron
Green Heron

I headed down to the lake shore, where I found a Red-winged Blackbird nest. I think it was empty though. Nearby a family of Red-winged Blackbirds kept very busy in the deep shadows of a large tree.

Then I looked up as an Osprey flew by. He was carrying a fish straight into the sun…so I got the shot, then tried to play with the contrast in post-processing.

Osprey with Fish
Osprey with Fish

It really was a pretty morning. I wished I’d gotten down to the pump house when the light was still soft. You can see how the bike trail hugs the lake shore.

Pump House
Pump House

A Great Egret flew over the lake. He’s lost the green lores of his breeding colors. Look at the beautiful detail in those long white feathers!

Great Egret
Great Egret

I headed back to my car, enjoying the exercise as I said goodbye to my birds. My last bird of the morning was this Blue Grosbeak, who perched high the trees near the entrance. He sang me a goodbye and made me promise to return soon!

Blue Grosbeak
Blue Grosbeak

Scouting for Black Skimmer Colonies

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After one of my early-summer trips to Fort De Soto, I drove up the coast to check on Black Skimmer colonies. They nest in June and typically begin hatching around Father’s Day. While it was early afternoon and harsh light, and the beaches were crowded with people, I got to see some good birds. Oh yeah, and I’ll be able to bring you photos of cute skimmer babies, if luck and weather cooperate!

I found the Black Skimmers nesting where I expected them. Most were on eggs already. With a long lens, I could get head shots. The Black Skimmer is one of the few birds whose lower mandible (beak) is longer than the top. this allows them to skim along the water to grab fish.

Black Skimmer Head Shot
Black Skimmer Head Shot

It was mid-day, and the birds were roosting on the beach instead of skimming. Also the water was full of people. I did catch a few birds coming in for a landing. I guess when you’ve incubated your eggs for long enough, you have to come to the ocean for a quick bath to cool off!

Black Skimmer
Black Skimmer

I noticed a nearby Brown Pelican and began watching him as he dove for fish. He flew in, sailing on the wind like the boat behind him…

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican

Then he dove face-first into the water to scoop some fish into his bill. His fishing technique is similar to the skimmer’s, except of course the skimmer doesn’t have the giant pouch. The bird dove straight into the ocean before I had a chance to zoom out.

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican

A few seconds later, he was sloshing around in the shore waves and chewing his lunch. Mmm, fish!

Brown Pelican
Brown Pelican

Satisfied that I’d be spending some happy afternoons here in a few weeks, I headed back to my car. On my way, I passed a small flock of terns. Most terns were off in nesting colonies by this point, but a few stragglers were still getting their act together. One lady pointed out that they were showing off for my camera. I like it when birds show off!

Royal Terns Making More Royals
Royal Terns Making More Royals

Lazy Laughing Gulls at North Beach

Posted Leave a commentPosted in Fort De Soto

I headed to Fort De Soto in early June. It’s always magical to walk along that beach in the early morning with the cool breeze in my face and the warm sand between my toes. You can take pictures of the beautiful birds and laugh at their antics, like when this Laughing Gull landed on the Brown Pelican. I guess it’s easier to steal a fish from a pelican than catch it yourself…

Laughing Gull Landed on Pelican's Back
Laughing Gull Landed on Pelican’s Back

I walked around Outback Key. As usual, I ran into “Big Red” the Reddish Egret along the ocean’s edge. He posed for a picture and then flew off. This is actually a composite of two images because the bird was too close and he didn’t fit in my frame!

Reddish Egret
Reddish Egret

You already read about my Snowy Plover family in my last post, but I can’t resist including another image of this beautiful bird. They were all over the beach that morning!

Snowy Plover (Adult Female)
Snowy Plover (Adult Female)

The gulls were also all over the beach. A lunch bag left over from Memorial Day kept a big flock of gulls very happy that morning. They flocked in and gave me plenty of flight shot opportunities…

Laughing Gulls
Laughing Gulls

…then a gull would take off with a bit of food, and all the other gulls chased it. Just like with the pelican, it’s easier to steal your food than to find it yourself! Sometimes one of the birds would drop the food in mid-flight, and another gull was always there to grab it!

Laughing Gulls
Laughing Gulls

After a walk around, I settled down in the sand to photograph the nesting birds. See if you can find the subject that captivated my camera for the rest of the morning! You’ll have to wait for another post to read more. :)

Don't Step on Me!  Least Tern Chick on Beach
Don’t Step on Me! Least Tern Chick on Beach