Category Archives: Lake Apopka

Busy Birds

Very busy birds! And in a lot of different places!

Seems like the nesting season is going full blast. I’ve been seeing them everywhere I go. Lake Apopka, Winter Park, Holly Hill, and Ormond Beach. Here are a few photos. The first two are from a Lake Apopka trip a few weeks ago :

Four or five nestsLake Apopka Nesting Tree (near the pump house). I could see four or five nests in this tree: Two Anhinga, a Cormorant and a Great Blue Heron. There’s also a Common Gallinule perched (or nesting?) in the lower left.

Great Blue Heron and chick(?)A close up of the Great Blue Heron nest in that tree. Some feathers sticking up from the bottom might be a small chick.

This next photo is from the Winter Park Osprey nest. I’ve checked on it several times this year and although it seems active, I haven’t been able to spot any eggs or chicks yet.

Winter Park OspreysWinter Park Ospreys: As of the afternoon of 4/19. I couldn’t see any sign of eggs or chicks in this nest. I’m going to try to go by again next week.

My friend Robert Wilson offered to show me one of his local spots: Centennial Park in Holly Hill. We went by last Monday and there was a lot of activity there too.

Osprey gathering nesting materialThis Centennial Park Osprey was gathering nesting material.

Nesting treeAnother nesting tree (Centennial Park). This one has five active nests: One Anhinga and four Great Blue Heron. These chicks are getting quite mature, with some already fledging.

Hungry youngsterHere’s a close up of the Anhiga nest in the tree above. Dad is feeding his very hungry youngster.

A stick for the nestThis nest in a close by tree is still under construction. The male just passed his mate a new stick to add.

And finally, Robert and I stopped by another spot up in Ormond Beach where he knew of a nesting Yellow-crowned Night Heron. It was hard to get a good photo, but it was exciting to see. These birds are a rare sight for me and to spot one in the nest was a treat!

Nesting Yellow-crowned Night HeronA Yellow-crowned Night Heron playing peek-a-boo from its nest in Ormond Beach.

You can click on any of these images to see higher resolution versions on Flickr.

It always amazes me what nature shows us if we go out and look. I wonder if you have some near by places like this where you could see some busy birds. We won’t know if you don’t go!

Thank you for reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, wander a bit out in nature – and make some photos while you’re there!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Kevin M. and I have been going out photographing together since 2008 or 2009. But we hadn’t done so for a while. When he invited me to go with him to Lake Apopka yesterday, I eagerly agreed.

The morning didn’t start well. The weather forecast was poor and the fog on the drive up was discouraging too. But we’d agreed to go “rain or shine” and sometimes things work out.

Kevin is a much better birder than I am, and it was a treat to ride along with him, catch up, and look for birds together. Two heads (and two sets of eyes / ears) are better than one and we ended up sighting 34 species (see the list below). Here are photos of some of the things we saw:

Finding bitterns is fun. They’re usually well hidden, but this one was right out in the open and in good light too!

Least BitternLeast Bittern

I don’t see Perigrines very often. It was way off in the distance but I managed to get an image ‘for the record’.

Perigrine FalconPerigrine Falcon

I first thought this next one was a Northern Harrier. Kevin had seen one just before. But thanks to a comment from Wally and a closer look, I think I was wrong about that.

Northern HarrierRed-shouldered HawkNorthern Harrier

Kevin pointed out this Common Gallinule (Moorhen) balancing on a reed and busily feeding on the seed head. It kept at it while we made some photos and looked like it was enjoying the snack.

Snacking MoorhenSnacking Moorhen

Purple Gallinules seem to like Lake Apopka.

Purple GallinulePurple Gallinule

I’d heard about Gray-headed Swamphens and seen some images on Flickr. But I hadn’t ever encountered one myself. They’re non-native birds that first started appearing in south Florida in the 1990s and are spreading north. They’re very distinctive and this one knew how to pose.

Grey-headed SwamphenGrey-headed Swamphen

Black-crowned Night-Herons were along the trail in a few spots. They were all in shadows back in the vegetation. This was the best photo I managed to make of one.

Black-crowned Night-HeronBlack-crowned Night-Heron

And finally, here’s a landscape photo of the pump house. I think the clouds we’d worried about add a lot of interest.

The PumphouseThe Pumphouse

It was a great trip – catching up with a good friend and letting nature show us her wonders. The weather improved for most of the morning and it didn’t start raining until after lunch. Here are 34 species we took note of:

American Coots, Anhingas, Barn Swallows,
Belted Kingfisher, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Black-crowned Night-Herons,
Black-necked Stilts, Blue-winged Teals, Boat-tailed Grackle,
Cattle Egrets, Common Gallinules, Common Ground-Doves,
Double Crested Cormorants, Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, Glossy Ibis,
Gray-headed Swamphens, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets,
Least Bitterns, Limpkins, Little Blue Heron,
Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinals, Northern Flicker,
Northern Harrier, Ospreys, Painted Bunting,
Peregrine Falcon, Purple Gallinules, Red-shouldered Hawk,
Red-winged Blackbirds, Snowy Egrets, Swamp Sparrow,
Tricolored Heron

And we also saw a lot of Alligators, several Marsh Rabbits, and a turtle.

If you click on these photos, you can view higher resolution versions on Flickr. And I have many more images from Lake Apopka in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157656060310175/with/24168732782/

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my blog! Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, go out photographing – with a friend!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved



Lake Apopka, 9/3/2021

I had a wonderful trip up to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive a week ago. It was a Saturday with a lot of people around, but it was gorgeous and there were more than enough things to see for everyone.

Most folks took Welland Rd. away from the pump house, so I chose to leave there on the Lake Apopka Loop Trail. I’m glad I did – I didn’t see anyone else on that part of the drive. LAWD’s a special place and even more so when you’re out there by yourself.

Along the north shore Along the north shore

I think this spot near the shore looks good in black and white. I like the trees, clouds, reflections, and Cormorants roosting in the branches. Here’s a closer look at one of the birds:

Cormorant Cormorant

Bald Eagles are always awesome. This one seemed to enjoy the view as much as I did.

Bald Eagle Bald Eagle

A little further along, a hawk flew by screaming at me for daring to point my camera in its direction.

Red-shouldered Hawk Red-shouldered Hawk

When I first got there, a large alligator was floating close to the main road and seemed to be staring right at me. Watching it made me feel less like a photographer and more like a gator snack. I’ve never actually seen them show any aggression toward humans, and I was a good distance from it. But I was glad to be in the car.

Predator Predator

Great Blue Herons are supreme predators too. I’ve spotted several recently with huge fish. This one was in nice morning light.

Morning Catch Morning Catch

It was a fine outing. I came home with memories, photos, and a good dose of Central Florida’s beautiful nature elixer. You can click on these photos to see larger versions on Flickr. And I have many more of my Lake Apopka images in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157656060310175

Header image: The View from Lust Road, near the entrance to LAWLD. Full version here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/51424824946/in/dateposted-public/

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A few more Lake Apopka photos

I brought many images back from our drive around Lake Apopka – too many for a single blog post. So here are some others that I like.

Launch! Launch! (Green Heron)

Gazing Gator Gazing Gator

Perching Dragon Perching Dragon (Orange Meadowhawk)

Blackbird on a bulrush Blackbird on a bulrush (Red-winged Blackbird)

Bird on a branch Bird on a branch (Green Heron)

Header image: Looking east over the marsh near the Lake Apopka pump house.


Updates:

  • Tropical Storm Elsa passed by to our west, but I haven’t heard of any significant problems from it in our area. I hope the rest of you were as lucky as we were.
  • Our “Who are you lookin’ at” print arrived last week and it looks as good as I expected it would. I have another image in mind for a print – I hope I’ll get another coupon soon!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can, make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Apopka, 26 June 2021

Kevin M. asked if I wanted to go on a photo excursion yesterday and of course I agreed. Since I hadn’t been to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive since before the pandemic, we ventured out there. It was a really good choice.

Two birds I don’t see very often were quite common: Black-necked Stilts and Least Bitterns. The Stilts were all along the drive. At first, they were way out in the water or flying in the distance. Eventually we found some much closer – and even had to wait for them to get out of the road!

Black-necked Stilt Black-necked Stilt

There were some cute young ones toddling around too.

Black-necked Stilt Babies Black-necked Stilt Babies

The Least Bitterns were taking cover in the reeds and occasionally flying from one hiding spot to another.

In the reeds A Least Bittern in the reeds

There were lots of other birds too. These nesting Anhingas were a treat. I don’t think I’ve seen them nesting since I visited the Everglades.

When is lunch, Mom? Nesting Anhingas: When is lunch, Mom?

Kevin pointed out this next bird for me – one I’d never photographed before.

Great Crested Flycatcher Great Crested Flycatcher

The LAWD Gate doesn’t open until 7am so we usually can’t get any blue hour or sunrise photos. But I always like to make a photo of the pump house. I hadn’t tried this perspective yet and I think it looks good in B&W with those clouds in the background.

Lake Apopka Pumphouse Exterior Lake Apopka Pumphouse

We also saw Turtles, Alligators, a Marsh Rabbit, lots of dragonflies, a Blue Grosbeak (way, way far away!), a Downy Woodpecker, a Black-crowned Night Heron, Bank Swallows, Common Gallinules, Purple Gallinules (and babies), Ospreys, Red-winged Blackbirds, Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, Little Blue Herons, and many lovely flowers too. And I’m sure there were other things I’ve forgotten to mention or overlooked.

Every time I visit LAWD, I’m reminded what a wonderful nature spot it is and how I need to go there more often. I’ll try! You can see more of my photos from there in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157656060310175

Header image: A Black-necked Stilt in flight

Way back in 2009, a group of friends at work were all interested in photography and getting out into nature here in Central Florida. We started a “club” we called the Photography Interest Group. We’d go out together, make photos, and share info on cameras, techniques, locations, etc. Over the years, people drifted away: lost interest, moved, etc. Kevin and I are the last two active members. He’s going to move away soon. We’ll keep in touch of course and may even be able to go out photographing together at times. But it seems like the Photography Interest Group has faded away. It was good while it lasted! I’ll miss you Kevin!

The Photography Interest Group on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/groups/1304505@N22/

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Cherish your family and friends. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you still can, make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive – 13 December 2019

If you’ve been a photographer for any length of time, you might be familiar with “new gear jinx”.  It seems whenever we get new photo equipment, the weather turns bad for a while so we can’t use it.

The day was a little dreary and the light was dimThe day was dreary and the light was dim.  Lots of clouds, some fog and haze, and rain later in the morning.

Kevin M. and I both wanted to try out some new gear and in spite of the poor weather we’ve had lately, decided to defy the jinx and venture out to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive on Friday morning.  I’m very glad we did.  Here’s some of what we saw.

Fulvous Whistling-duckFulvous Whistling-duck.  There were quite a few.  I’d never seen one before, so this was a great addition to my life-list.  Thanks Kevin!

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat.  I posted a photo of one a few weeks ago, but this bird is much more colorful.

American BitternAmerican Bittern – in their classic frozen statue pose.  It eventually realized we could see it anyway and left.  By then, I wasn’t paying attention and missed the flight shot.

Eastern PhoebeEastern Phoebe. This must be a young one – it hasn’t learned to hide from photographers behind twigs and branches yet.

Black-crowned Night-Heron in flightBlack-crowned Night-Heron in flight.  We saw 4 or 5 of these on Friday.  They’ve been on Black Point Wildlife Drive too and  seem more common than usual this year.

There were hundreds (maybe thousands) of birds on the water – I haven’t seen that many in a long while.  Lots of coots, but also Redheads, Northern Shovelers, Blue-wing Teals, and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks too – among others.  We also saw a few alligators, all the other usual wading / water birds along with an occasional Belted Kingfisher, one young Bald Eagle, Red-winged Blackbirds, many Red-shoulder Hawks, and even one fast flying snipe.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive undoubtedly lives up to its name.  If you’re planning to go, it’s usually open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays between sunrise and sunset. That poor light on Friday was a good test of our new gear but I ended up with a lot of photos I like.   I think we broke the jinx!

You can look through my blog posts about this wonderful place at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/lake-apopka/.  And I’ve collected images from there in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157656060310175.  Also please click on the photos in these blog posts to view them in higher resolution on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos -even when the weather’s dreary!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black and White Backlog

I make a lot of photographs – you may not have been able to tell  ;-).  And I have many that I like that never get into the blog.  So this week I’m going to post a handful of B&W images from around Central Florida that I think are worth seeing.  I hope you like them too.  Not many words this morning.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Lake Apopka PumphousePump house, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

St. Augustine Cathedral InteriorCathedral Interior, St. Augustine

Cypress standCypress stand, Orlando Wetlands

Quiet morningQuiet morning, Merritt Island NWR

Along Bobcat TrailSunrise Along Bobcat Trail, Orlando Wetlands

Tranquil mornTranquil morn, Orlando Wetlands

As always, click to view larger on Flickr, and you can see many more of my monochrome photos in this folder.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Apopka Postcard

Hello faithful readers!  This is my first post in a new category I’ve created on the blog that I’m calling “Postcards”.  I’m going to occasionally post photos here that are typical Central Florida scenes – like a postcard.

You’re welcome to download them at full resolution for your personal use.  I’m going to use the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license for these instead of “All rights reserved”.  Please visit this page to see details and restrictions that apply:  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.

In the future, they should be easy to find using the “Places / Categories” pulldown menu over on the right side of the blog and selecting “Postcards”.  If you’re viewing the site on a phone, you might not see that menu – if so, just type “postcards” into the search box.

Anyway, the first photo in the new series is this one:

Bird on a bush – Great Blue Heron at Lake Apopka

To download, just click on the image to go to the source and then right-click to download it.  I hope you like it!

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license

 

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

Lake Apopka Restoration Area

If you take a look at my blog archives, you’d see only a few mentions of Lake Apopka and the wildlife drive that goes through the restoration area out there.  If you look for Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge posts, you’d find almost 70!  Judging solely by these numbers, you might assume that MINWR is a better place to visit.  At least some of the time, you’d be wrong!

I met my friend Robert Wilson one morning a couple of weeks ago at the entrance to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.  I hadn’t seen him (or Lake Apopka!) in a while.

Country RoadCountry Road – Near the Lust Road entrance to the drive

There’s been lots of activity there this summer.  Robert and others described feeding frenzies in the ponds by the pump house. Alligators and birds have gorged on fish, creating some great photo opportunities.

And people have seen many interesting birds too including Swallowtail and Mississippi kites, Brown Thrashers, Fulvous Whistling Ducks, an Ash-throated Flycatcher, Purple Martins, and others.

_EM128449_DxO.jpgSwallow-tailed Kite

Red Shouldered Hawk with Field MouseRed Shouldered Hawk with Field Mouse (in right claw). It had just caught the mouse on the road and carried it to this tree.

You can get a good idea of the birds at a place using eBbird.  Here’s their chart of bird observations by species and month for Lake Apopka.  And here is the same thing for MINWR.

On our trip, we also saw several kinds of dragon flies:

Holloween Pennant DragonflyHalloween Pennant Dragonfly

And many water lilies blooming, some of them in very pretty light:

Water LilyWater Lily

MINWR can be quiet through the hot part of the year and the times I checked on it this summer, I saw few birds / wildlife. Conditions were poor with little rainfall for long periods followed by some huge fires along Black Point Wildlife Drive.

On the other hand, Lake Apopka’s been a wonderful place to visit this summer.  It’s a shame I didn’t go over there more often.  Not too long ago, the lake was polluted with farm runoff.  Restoration efforts and the opening of the wildlife drive about two years ago have made it a premier nature and wildlife destination in Central Florida.

It’s about the same distance from me as MINWR.  I’m going to make a point of visiting more often.  If you haven’t been recently – go.

You can see more Lake Apopka images in this folder on Flickr.  And MINWR photos in this folder.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved