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Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day to my Dyeyo D!  I’m so lucky to get to share lots of feather-brained adventures with you.  Here’s to many more!

My Dad and Me :)

My Dad and Me :)

My dad introduced me to my first Sandhill Crane family at the Circle B Bar Reserve. Now I’m a full-fledged craniac!

 

In the early 2010s, my dad and I hiked at Circle B Bar Reserve nearly every weekend.  American White Pelicans galore!

 

Visiting Nesting Ospreys at Lake Blue Cypress. We had so many laughs watching this bird trying to maneuver with a very long stick!

 

After a year of searching for Dyeyo’s nemesis bird at Circle B, we finally found Red-headed Woodpeckers at Chinsegut.

 

Hanging out with the Burrowing Owls in Lake County. Grasshopper for breakfast, anyone?

 

 

Visiting a Swallow-tailed Kite Roost. My dad agreed to toss me over the side of the boat as gator bait!

 

Perhaps our best adventure yet: a crazy chase up to Jacksonville to see a Snowy Owl — on the beach!

 

Coming up soon…what happened when these two cuckoos went out to Lake Apopka searching for a cuckoo bird! ;-)

The Fun Continues at Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive has been such fun this month!  Highlights of this visit include baby Killdeer, a Yellow-Crowned Night Heron, a Roseate Spoonbill, and the ever-present baby aliens (Common Gallinules).

The first birds that I stopped to photograph were a family of Common Gallinules.  I love to watch the babies.  They look like little aliens.  The Common Gallinules are one of the few bird families where the older juveniles from the early summer clutches stick around to take care of the later clutch babies.  I think it’s sweet how they stick together.  Rarely do I see the tiny babies playing together, but on this particular morning, these two were swimming and splashing together.  A closer look revealed that they were squabbling over the same bite of breakfast!

Common Gallinule Babies Fighting Over Breakfast

Common Gallinule Babies Fighting Over Breakfast.  Photographed on Welland Road.

Next up was another gallinule – this time, Purple!  This bird was very close to the road, and he watched me dubiously as I pulled up.  It’s not often that I have a chance to do a head shot of this beautiful bird.  I hope he has a nest nearby because I’d love to get close-ups of his chicks!

Purple Gallinule

Purple Gallinule.  Photographed on Welland Road.

As I turned onto the next road, I noticed a bird that I’ve only seen once before at Lake Apopka – the Yellow-Crowned Night Heron.  He used to be a regular at Fort De Soto, and a rarity at the Circle B Bar Reserve, but it’s been a while since I’ve seen one.  He was stalking his breakfast.  I was glad that he was on the opposite berm, because I had a nice angle with a clean background.  Until he headed down the berm!  Silly bird.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron. Photographed on Roach Road.

Yellow-crowned Night Heron. Photographed on Roach Road.

Next up is one of my favorite birds – the Roseate Spoonbill.  There were two of them feeding in a pond off Laughlin Road.  This was a Beastly shot with my 2x teleconverter.  The birds were actively feeding.  With all the motion, I was surprised to get such a good reflection in this shot.

Roseate Spoonbill. Photographed on Laughlin Road.

Roseate Spoonbill. Photographed on Laughlin Road.

Wait, is that a….yep!  The Roseate Spoonbill was feeing in the same pond as a Fulvous Whistling-Duck.  It struck me that they were kind of the Odd Couple, especially as the spoonie spooned right past the duck, and the duck just stared at him!

Fulvous Whistling-Duck. Photographed on Laughlin Road.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck. Photographed on Laughlin Road.

As I turned onto Interceptor, I hoped to see the White-faced Ibis again, but all the ibises were glossies.  This pair of Black-necked Stilts were feeding in the water close to me.  They are such fun-looking birds with those long red legs!  These birds were clearly a pair, but they wouldn’t tell me if they had babies nearby… ;-)

Black-necked Stilt Pair. Photographed on Interceptor Road.

Black-necked Stilt Pair. Photographed on Interceptor Road.

Nearby was another family of Common Gallinules.  Several “alien” babies were making a big fuss as they swam around.  Then Mom swam up with a morsel and this baby went into begging overdrive!  I love watching them stick those little stubby wing-lets in the air to get Mom’s attention.

Common Gallinule Feeding Baby. Photographed on Interceptor Road.

Common Gallinule Feeding Baby. Photographed on Interceptor Road.

A Green Heron flew in and gave me a rare head shot opportunity as he went stalking his breakfast.  I had just been thinking that the Greenies at Lake Apopka always fly before I get a chance to photograph them.  I guess this one took pity on me.

Green Heron. Photographed at Interceptor Road.

Green Heron. Photographed at Interceptor Road.

I spotted a Killdeer on a mudflat and stopped briefly to photograph him.  When I noticed that it was actually a pair of Killdeer with four tiny babies, I settled in for a longer visit!  The babies were so cute.  Most shorebird babies remind me of cotton balls with toothpick legs.  These were no exception.  They wandered fearlessly around the mudflat, apparently not as concerned as Mom was when the Common Gallinule wandered into the area.  I got to photograph these guys twice, then I haven’t seen them again.

Killdeer. Photographed at Laughlin Road.

Killdeer. Photographed along Interceptor Road.

Killdeer Baby. Photographed along Interceptor Road.

Killdeer Baby

Killdeer Baby

Killdeer Baby

As I approached the sod fields and started watching out for the Fork-Tailed Flycatcher, a pair of Red-winged Blackbirds caught my eye.  They were fledglings, and they were making a big fuss.  I had just focused on one when Mom flew in to feed him.  Such a great end to a fun morning!

Red-winged Blackbird Feeding Fledgling

Red-winged Blackbird Feeding Fledgling.  Photographed along Interceptor Road.

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Rare Fork-tailed Flycatcher at Lake Apopka

There’s a new celebrity in town.  He traveled a great distance to be here, and he has birders flocking to come see him, but most people don’t even know he’s there.  In fact, you can walk right by him and never even notice him.  Meet the Fork-tailed Flycatcher, the latest rare bird to show up at Lake Apopka.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

What’s so big a deal about a black and white bird?  Well, he’s rare for Florida.  Actually, he’s rare for the US, although vagrants are reported pretty regularly.  Most Fork-tailed Flycatchers live in South America, with their breeding range extending from Argentina to Mexico.  This one probably got a little lost on his migratory journey.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

This bird is likely a juvenile bird, or an adult who’s having serious tail issues.  See the the fork in his tail?  It’s supposed to be longer.  Imagine two long ribbons streaming from it – that’s what an adult bird’s tail looks like.  Wikipedia lists this bird as having the largest tail-to-body ratio of all birds on the planet.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

I’m aware of at least three Fork-tailed Flycatcher sightings in Florida this spring, probably due to the storms and heavy winds during migration season.  This bird lucked out when he found Lake Apopka.  It’s loaded with bugs right now, perfect for his fly-catching ways.  See how he finds a tall perch and sits?  He watches and waits and then whoosh! takes off to grab an insect in mid-air.

Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Flight - Watch Out, Bugs!

Fork-tailed Flycatcher in Flight – Watch Out, Bugs!

I’m not sure how long this bird will stick around, but he’s certainly welcome to stay as long as he likes.  He’s visible from the sod fields at the end of the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.  Look for the cars on the side of the road and the scopes pointed out into the field.  He usually stays pretty far out.  My close-up shots were from one morning, but ever other time I went, he was far away.  Good luck to those chasing him!

Fork-tailed Flycatcher

Fork-tailed Flycatcher