Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

I joined Kevin M. and Kevin K. on a trip around Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive last Friday. We got a late start and didn’t make sunrise, so you’ll have to be satisfied with a monochrome landscape this week.

Lake Apopka ShoreLake Apopka Shore.  Monochrome, IR

Black Point Wildlife Drive seemed quiet when I was there a week ago, but Lake Apopka is active.  We saw lots of people and lots of birds.  I don’t catch Black-crowned Night Herons that often, but we spotted several including this young one fishing in a canal.

Lake Apopka ShoreBlack-crowned Night Heron

A little later we spotted another that’d just caught a catfish.

Black-crowned Night Heron and CatfishBlack-crowned Night Heron and Catfish

This looks like a Sailfin Catfish.  I hadn’t heard about these, but Kevin M. filled me in.  They’re a type of suckermouth (or armored) catfish and a non-native, invasive species in Florida.  Originally from Venezuela and Colombia, they’re popular in aquariums.  Most  likely they escaped from tropical fish farms and / or were released here by people.

Now they’re abundant and widespread throughout Florida and bad for our ecosystem.  They dig burrows that cause erosion.  Because of their tough, armored skin and sharp spines, they can choke birds that eat them.  There were a lot of them in the canals next to the roads.  The St. John’s River Water Management District has an undesirable fish harvest each year that gets some of them out of the water.

In addition to the Night Heron, we also saw a Great Blue Heron and a Great Egret with one.  I hope they didn’t choke.

I don’t see many Purple Gallinules either, and I didn’t realize this was a young one until Kevin M. ID’d it for us.  Thanks, Kevin!

Purple Gallinule juvenilePurple Gallinule juvenile

We saw several other types of birds, dragonflies, butterflies, flowers, and the usual alligators too.  Lake Apopka is well worth a visit, even in the hot summer.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

4 thoughts on “Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

  1. Always something going on around the wildlife drive, it seems! I read an article on Great Blue Herons recently that said they try to kill or knock out a catfish before attempting to swallow it as that will relax the muscles controlling those dangerous fins.

    Great series of photographs!

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