Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive – Jan. 7 2023

My good friend Kevin M. was in town a week ago and wanted to visit LAWLD. We also invited Lutfi and the three of us met and drove up together.

It’s about the same distance for me as Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and has a wide variety of birds to see (especially at this time of year). It’s one of my favorite places but I struggle to make landscape photos there. I think this is mostly because I like the light before sunrise and the gate doesn’t open until 7am. Anyway, I did make this one shortly after we arrived. It’s two RAW iPhone frames, stitched together and processed in Lightroom / Photoshop. I like the color contrast of the winter Cypress trees against the blue sky and water.

Winter CypressWinter Cypress

Small birds were plentiful near the entrance. Here are a couple I was able to make reasonable photos of:

On the rocksSwamp Sparrow on the rocks

Blue-gray GnatcatcherBlue-gray Gnatcatcher – more orange / blue contrast

And here are two more that we spotted near the Pump House:

Eastern PhoebeEastern Phoebe

Palm WarblerPalm Warbler

The marshy area across from the Pump House parking is a very good spot to watch birds nesting. Last year, we saw Anhingas, Cormorants, and Great Blue Herons nesting in April. It must be early for all but the herons – I spent several minutes Saturday enjoying this couple’s home renovations:

Great Blue Herons nestingGreat Blue Herons nesting – incoming branch

Raising offspring is hard for most every species. Seeing these birds cooperate to bring new life into the world is spellbinding and makes for a great photo op. I think my favorite photo of the trip is this gentle, back-lit handoff:

Great Blue Herons nestingGreat Blue Herons nesting – handoff

There’s almost always other action on LAWLD too. The Anhingas are adept anglers and with a little luck you can freeze action like this:

Anhinga AnglerAnhinga Angler

LAWLD is the only place I’ve ever seen Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, so I was happy to spot them this time too.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck TrioFulvous Whistling-Duck Trio

We also saw: Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, a Painted Bunting, a Common Yellow-throat, Black-crowned Night Herons, Northern Harriers, a Red-shoulder Hawk, Tree Swallows, and many of our more common birds.

The header image title is “A very wild smile”. It’s a 3 frame panorama and looks impressively close. But I made it with my long lens from across a canal. You can see a larger version here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/52612944732/in/dateposted-public/

Winter’s such a fabulous time to visit! If you’ve been thinking about it go! It’s open to cars between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays. You can find much more info at this link: https://www.sjrwmd.com/lands/recreation/lake-apopka/. And you can view many more of my Lake Apopka photos at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157656060310175. Finally, this eBird page lists bird species that’ve been observed there.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  I hope all of you are doing well and that you have a wonderful 2023! Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make a few photos!

©2023, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

9 thoughts on “Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive – Jan. 7 2023

  1. This is such a great place to visit!

    Outstanding photographs, Ed. I really like your heron handoff. Nothing says “I love you” like a stick! Also, the light on the Fulvous Whistling-Ducks is very nice.

    If you have time after some future visit to LAWR, if you haven’t already discovered it, not too far from the wildlife drive exit is Yalaha Bakery. German breads and pastries as well as a deli which serves German things for lunch.

    Thank you for the “bird fix” this cold morning!

    1. Thank you Wally. I really like Lake Apopka and need to make an effort to go more often.

      I think you mentioned that bakery before, but I’ve forgotten to go by. I’ll use my age as an excuse and try hard to remember next time!

      Ed

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