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Lake Morton

Lake Morton, located in downtown Lakeland, Florida, is home to about 60 Mute Swans and a myriad of other ducks and geese. Walkers and joggers frequently feed the birds, making them very tame for photography. Even the Wood Ducks are pretty tame. My favorite time to visit is the spring (March through June), when the birds are nesting and raising their young.

Photography advice: I use both my long lens and my intermediate telephoto.

Common Gallinule Nest at Lake Morton

Common Gallinule Nest at Lake Morton - July 2017

Photos of a Common Gallinule family tending their nest and three young chicks. Mom and Dad brought in food while a juvenile sibling baby-satRead More

June Morning at Lake Morton

June Morning at Lake Morton - July 2017

A June morning of photography at Lake Morton yielded juvenile cygnets, Wood Ducks, Wood Storks, and a Common Gallinule nestRead More

Early April at Lake Morton

Early April at Lake Morton - May 2016

A quiet morning of bird photography at Lake Morton - Ruddy Ducks, Muscovy ducklings, American White Pelicans, and wise Wood StorksRead More

Springtime at Lakes Morton and Mirror

Springtime at Lakes Morton and Mirror - May 2015

Springtime is the best time at Lakes Morton and Mirror, where it's easy to photograph tame birds in breeding plumage, and cute babies!Read More

In Search of Swooning Swans at Lake Morton

In Search of Swooning Swans at Lake Morton - February 2015

The swans didn't do much swooning for me at Lake Morton, but the new pair of Coscoroba Swans posed for my dad and me.Read More

Ducks are Back at Lake Morton

Ducks are Back at Lake Morton - November 2014

Ducks are back at Lake Morton! They gave me some good wing-flaps last weekend when the sun finally came out.Read More

Small Things to Make You Smile (Lake Morton)

Small Things to Make You Smile (Lake Morton) - August 2014

A summer morning at Lake Morton led me to tiny turtles, young swans, and a protective Father Goose with teenage Muscovy Ducks.Read More

Around Lake Morton

Around Lake Morton - May 2014

A spring morning is a great time to walk around Lake Morton. While I didn't see babies, the lingering winter migrants kept me entertained.Read More

Say Hello to Mrs. Cottonball Head

Say Hello to Mrs. Cottonball Head - May 2014

Sometimes it's fun to photograph rare or strange birds. Other times the most common birds make me smile, like Mrs. Cottonball Head!Read More

Springtime Walk at Lake Morton

Springtime Walk at Lake Morton - March 2014

Last weekend I visited Lake Morton in hopes of photographing swan courtship.  My friend Kim recently posted an amazing image of two "love birds" whose necks came together to form a heart on the lake.  It's a touching reminder that it's my favorite time of the year: baby bird season!  I can't wait for the cygnets to grace the shores of the lake with their sweetness and their antics.  Alas, …Read More

Cloudy Morning Walk at Lake Morton

Cloudy Morning Walk at Lake Morton - January 2014

Three days after Christmas, the weather forecasters promised us some sun.  It was a welcome forecast, as it had been cloudy for days.  So I got up early and headed to Lake Morton for sunrise.  I hadn't been there to visit my swans in quite a while.  But it was another dull gray day.  You couldn't tell when the sun rose because the clouds were so thick.  Yuck! When I …Read More

Wow!  Honorable Mention in NWF Photo Contest!

Wow! Honorable Mention in NWF Photo Contest! - December 2013

Oh my gosh!  Yesterday I received this e-mail: Your photo of a Mute Swan Cygnet has won an Honorable Mention in our 2013 National Wildlife Photo Contest.  It will appear in a slide show on the National Wildlife Federation’s website in the magazine’s PhotoZone pages in January. It will also be considered for our Photo of the Week and Caption Contest during 2014. Congratulations on being a finalist in our competition! My Honorable …Read More

Show-Offs at Lake Morton

Show-Offs at Lake Morton - October 2013

This summer at Lake Morton, I amused myself while on swan nest-watch by taking pictures of all the ducks and geese as they bathed in the lake.  Early mornings seem to be best for bathtime.  The birds are such fun to watch as they splash around, flapping their wings back and forth.  Besides, it's fun to try to capture bath-time moments.  You never know how your shots will turn out …Read More

More from Lake Morton

More from Lake Morton - September 2013

There were lots of fun birds to photograph on my last visit to Lake Morton.  Besides the juvenile swans, there was a family of baby Limpkins, as well as the regular "menagerie" of ducks and geese.  Early mornings are always good for bath shots!  So here's some more from Lake Morton… A pair of Black-necked Swans was added to the lake last year.  They are very pretty, and I really …Read More

Mute Swan Cygnets Returned to Lake Morton

Mute Swan Cygnets Returned to Lake Morton - September 2013

Seven of our Mute Swan Cygnets returned to Lake Morton last week.  Regular readers of my blog may recall my springtime posts about the cute little cygnets, so adorable as they sat in their nests with Mom on the day that they hatched.   I finally got to see a cygnet ride on Mom's back this spring, and it was such fun to watch! Sadly, these creatures were snatched away from …Read More

Mute Swan Cygnets – Just Another Ordinary Miracle!

Mute Swan Cygnets – Just Another Ordinary Miracle! - June 2013

On Sunday I visited Lake Morton to photograph what is probably the last Mute Swan cygnet of the season. We've had a great spring this year, with lots of great nests and adorable cygnets. Unfortunately the babies are taken away by the City of Lakeland almost as soon as they hatch. So we haven't had many opportunities to see the babies bonding with Mom and Dad out on the lake.  One thing I …Read More

Another Tale of Father Goose

Another Tale of Father Goose - May 2013

Regular readers of my blog may remember Father Goose.  He (she?) is a goose at Lake Morton who befriends the Muscovy Ducks each spring when their babies hatch.  I'm not sure where the Muscovy dads are, but they don't seem to be much involved in raising the brood of youngsters.  Enter "Father" Goose, the lonely goose who arrived at Lake Morton several years ago and never quite fit in with the …Read More

Sunset with my Swans

Sunset with my Swans - May 2013

After our less-than-spectacular sunrise at Blue Cypress Lake a few weeks ago, I headed to Lakeland to see my swans.  You see, the City of Lakeland takes the cygnets away from their nests almost immediately — sometimes on the same day that they hatch.  The City believes that it's better to raise the babies in a private facility, away from the hustle and bustle of the lake.  I find it …Read More

Cygnets for Mother’s Day

Cygnets for Mother’s Day - May 2013

Dedicated to my mom, who is my best friend and confidante.  Happy Mother's Day!! As regular readers of my blog know, I've been stopping by Lake Morton periodically to monitor the nesting of the resident Mute Swans.  My friend Kim at the lake knows how much I love to photograph the cygnets (baby swans), so she promised to let me know when they started to hatch.  One morning I decided …Read More

Cygnet Watch at Lake Morton

Cygnet Watch at Lake Morton - May 2013

On my way back from Fort De Soto last Saturday, I stopped at Lake Morton to see if there were any cygnets (baby swans).  I've been keeping an eye on the nests there for the past few weeks, as it is getting to be that time of year when tiny gray fuzzballs appear under the mother swans.  It was mid-day when I got there, and the light was really harsh, …Read More

Seven Baby Limpkins at Lake Morton!

Seven Baby Limpkins at Lake Morton! - April 2013

I had read about baby Limpkins at Lake Morton, and when I was walking around the lake on Saturday morning, I kept my eyes and ears open.  Often I hear babies before I see them.  Then I ran into my friend Jane, and she told me exactly where to find them.  Woo hoo!  They were clustered in a clump of bushes, taking refuge from the chaos of a bread-fest that …Read More

Cute Babies at Lake Morton

Cute Babies at Lake Morton - April 2013

The weather was cloudy and rainy on Saturday morning, so I didn't want to venture miles from my car with heavy camera equipment.  I opted for a trip to Lake Morton, where I knew I could find cute babies.  I knew I'd be too early for swan cygnets, which probably won't hatch till late April or early May.  But with all the ducks at the Lake Morton menagerie, there were …Read More

Swans Nesting at Lake Morton

Swans Nesting at Lake Morton - April 2013

As I wrote yesterday, my friend Carla came with me on a photography expedition last weekend.  We first visited the Circle B Bar Reserve, and then we headed to Lake Morton.  Carla saw her first swan's nest! The beautiful Mute Swans are nesting all around the lake right now.  We counted at least eight nests.  The City of Lakeland has roped them off this year and posted a sign by …Read More

Perfect Moment

Perfect Moment - September 2012

I was going back through my images from the year to prepare my annual Christmas calendars. I came across this one and thought of my friend Kim from the lake, who will soon become a grandmother. This was such a special day, when I met Kim and got to photograph this day-old cygnet on the nest with Mom. :) I can't wait for next spring!

Ring-Necked Duck in July!?

Ring-Necked Duck in July!? - September 2012

The last couple of times that I've been to Lake Morton, I've noticed this lone Ring-Necked Duck out in the water. With all the ducks, swans, and geese at the "menagerie," you might not think that was so strange…except for the fact that all his friends flew north several months ago! I wonder what made him decide to stay in Lakeland for the summer. Maybe he really likes 100-degree weather …Read More

Save the Best for Last

Save the Best for Last - August 2012

As I prepared to leave Lake Morton on Sunday, I stopped to photograph a Limpkin standing tall by the lakeside. I approached cautiously, tucking myself behind a tree so as not to surprise him. When I emerged on my knees to photograph him at eye-level, I was the one who got the surprise. He had five little Limpkin chicks with him! They were a little older than the chicks that …Read More

Late Bloomer

Late Bloomer - August 2012

I was a little surprised to find a tiny Mallard chick at Lake Morton on Sunday. He toppled into the water to follow Mom when I accidentally spooked her. He had a whole family of Mallards who seemed to be watching out for him. It's unusual to see just one of this size - the clutches are usually pretty large, which is good given the low survival rate of the …Read More

The Three Stooges

The Three Stooges - August 2012

When I got out of the car at Lake Morton on Sunday, these "Three Stooges" nearly knocked me over as they begged for food. They are so used to people feeding them that they expect everybody to be a food dispenser! No matter where you go around the lake, you find these guys, often in groups of three. They are so funny to watch as they chase the other ducks! …Read More

Father Goose’s Teenagers

Father Goose’s Teenagers - August 2012

Regular readers of my blog may remember Father Goose from about a month ago. He's the goose at Lake Morton that befriends Muscovy ducklings and helps protect them as they grow up. A month ago, this is how he looked with his adopted family… Well, these days he's looking after teenagers. While I was there on Sunday, I didn't see Mama Duck anywhere, but Father Goose was still sticking close …Read More

Gray Icky Morning at Lake Morton

Gray Icky Morning at Lake Morton - August 2012

I stopped by Lake Morton this morning on my way to help my dad in his computer lab. It was very gray and nasty outside as Tropical Storm Isaac approached. But I haven't had much opportunity to photograph lately, so even gray days are fun. Plus I always enjoy my time with the birds at Lake Morton. You can't go to Lake Morton without seeing swans. I read recently that …Read More

Picture Perfect

Picture Perfect - July 2012

A few weekends ago when I was photographing at Swan Lake (a.k.a. Lake Morton), I looked up from the cute babies to see this Mallard sitting posed in great light with a perfect reflection. I loved the contrast of his feathers against the blue lake background. I kinda wished the cute babies would have stood as still as he did, too! :)

Swan Lake

Swan Lake - July 2012

My hubby isn't the most, um, obsessed about birding. So I had to laugh when he asked me, "are you going back to the Goosey Pond this weekend?" He was referring to Lake Morton and Father Goose…but I had to disagree on his name for the place. I much prefer "Swan Lake!" :)

Duck, Duck, Goose!

Duck, Duck, Goose! - July 2012

All the birds at Lake Morton are playing "Duck, Duck, Goose!" as they watch Father Goose take care of his little ones. Mrs. Muscovy posed with her bright white face against a nice green background. She tried to be dignified, but it's hard when you have a feather on your beak. This is one of Mrs. Muscovy's little ones. At first I thought I liked the little yellow and black …Read More

Father Goose

Father Goose - July 2012

Many human children grow up hearing the tales of Mother Goose. On Lake Morton, the young chicks grow up with Father Goose. This unique goose takes it upon himself to play nanny with young Muscovy duck families. I spent a sweet couple of hours with this little family on Saturday morning at Lake Morton. A friend who lives on the lake hypothesizes that this goose lost his mate several years …Read More

Baby Ducks at Lake Morton

Baby Ducks at Lake Morton - May 2012

While checking on the swan nests at Lake Morton recently, I've gotten to see some other fun babies too.  In early April, I came across a flock of recently-hatched Mallard chicks, probably between 12 and 18 of them.  In later visits, the babies were bigger, although in fewer numbers.  They are certainly well-fed at that lake, so they do grow quickly! But my best surprise was finding this pair of …Read More

The Story of a Swan

The Story of a Swan - May 2012

As I teased on last Friday, I stopped by Lake Morton on my way home from Fort De Soto and found a newborn cygnet.  I went back on Sunday morning to observe the nest and spend some time with the baby.  This little guy has a band of followers (hi Kim! hi Pam!) who spent the weekend watching over the nest.  One of the men dubbed him "Baby Friday," and …Read More

Black and White Wonderings

Black and White Wonderings - April 2012

As frequent readers of my blog know, we adopted a black and white kitten last year.  He's been helping me review my recent images from Lake Morton, and he's a little confused.  You see, here's the picture I  took of a Black Swan cygnet in early April: …and here's the picture I took of a Mute Swan cygnet last week: Now Whiskey wonders: why do both black and white swans …Read More

Preview of Coming Attractions…

Preview of Coming Attractions… - April 2012

I had the most incredible day today!  I went to Fort De Soto to check out the migrants, and I finally got my first Scarlet Tanager male, along with a ton of orioles, grosbeaks, buntings, and a few warblers.  Birders kept telling me that today was a "slow" day in comparison to last weekend's fallout…but to me, it was awesome!  I stopped at Lake Morton to check on the swan …Read More

A Walk Around Lake Morton

A Walk Around Lake Morton - April 2012

Last week Rich and I were in Lakeland to judge the Florida State Science and Engineering Fair.  We had a great time talking to the students about their projects.  Afterward, I twisted Rich’s arm into taking a nice walk around nearby Lake Morton.  I wanted to see if the Mute Swans were nesting yet – and yes, they are!  Two hours and a gorgeous sunset later, I had a cardful …Read More

Happy Easter!

Happy Easter! - April 2012

I hope this picture of a Mallard duckling doing the splits will bring a smile to everyone on Easter.  More from Lake Morton in the next post!

My First Visit to Lake Morton

My First Visit to Lake Morton - January 2012

After a quiet morning at the Circle B Bar Reserve on Friday, Dyeyo and I decided to head to Lake Morton. Herman has been telling me about it for ages, and he always knows the good birding places! There were lots of Ring-necked and Ruddy Ducks sleeping on the lake. It was my first opportunity to see a male Ruddy. They are pretty. The Ruddys stayed out in the middle …Read More