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 :
Lake 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.
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 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.
This Centennial Park Osprey was gathering nesting material.
Another 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.
Here’s a close up of the Anhiga nest in the tree above. Dad is feeding his very hungry youngster.
This 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!
A 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!
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!
I don’t see Perigrines very often. It was way off in the distance but I managed to get an image ‘for the record’.
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.
Red-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.
Purple Gallinules seem to like Lake Apopka.
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.
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.
And finally, here’s a landscape photo of the pump house. I think the clouds we’d worried about add a lot of interest.
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.
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!
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
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:
Bald Eagles are always awesome. This one seemed to enjoy the view as much as I did.
A little further along, a hawk flew by screaming at me for daring to point my camera in its direction.
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.
Great Blue Herons are supreme predators too. I’ve spotted several recently with huge fish. This one was in nice morning light.
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!
There were some cute young ones toddling around too.
Black-necked Stilt Babies
The Least Bitterns were taking cover in the reeds and occasionally flying from one hiding spot to another.
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.
Nesting Anhingas: When is lunch, Mom?
Kevin pointed out this next bird for me – one I’d never photographed before.
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
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.
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!
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 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-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 Yellowthroat. I posted a photo of one a few weeks ago, but this bird is much more colorful.
American 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 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 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!
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.
Pump house, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
Cathedral Interior, St. Augustine
Cypress stand, Orlando Wetlands
Quiet morning, Merritt Island NWR
Sunrise Along Bobcat Trail, Orlando Wetlands
Tranquil 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!
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:
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!
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.
Black-crowned Night Heron
A little later we spotted another that’d just caught a catfish.
Black-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 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!
Country 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.
Red Shouldered Hawk with Field Mouse (in right claw). It had just caught the mouse on the road and carried it to this tree.
On our trip, we also saw several kinds of dragon flies:
Halloween Pennant Dragonfly
And many water lilies blooming, some of them in very pretty light:
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.