Category Archives: Lake Apopka

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

Lake Apopka wildlife Drive

My friend Tom M. wanted to go out shooting last week and hadn’t ever been to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. The drive itself is only open to cars from Friday through Sunday, so we met on Friday morning and went over.  It was raining when I got up and still cloudy on the way over, which made for interesting skies in my infrared photos.

Lake Apopka Pump HouseLake Apopka Pump House – 2 frame panorama, infrared, black and white.

We did have a bit of good light while we were there.  We saw this bird struggling to swallow a fish and stopped to watch for a few minutes.  It was on the side of a canal with the clouds reflecting in the water behind it and flowers blooming in front.  I stayed in the car so I wouldn’t bother it and shot a series of single frames while we watched.  This one was the best one of the series.

Nice catch! Nice catch! – an Anhiga tosses a fish it caught along a canal on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.

On this trip, I brought my micro four thirds cameras.  I’ve used the system for about four years and they’ve worked very well.  The dynamic range and noise performance are not as good as larger sensor cameras, but it’s “good enough”.  And the noise is not an issue for me.  DxO Optics Pro does an outstanding job processing the RAW files.  The focusing capabilities have been fast for static subjects – but I’ve never been able to do very well with continuous focus.  Well, I recently traded up to a used Olympus E-M1, which has phase detect sensors built into the image sensor and it’s been doing a great job with continuous focus. So much so that even for birds in flight it’s working “good enough” too.  Here’s an example from Friday:

Checking me outChecking me out – A hawk in flight looking at the camera

You can view other photos I’ve made with the micro four thirds system in this album on Flickr.

Lake Apopka is an awesome place, I’ll definitely go back.  I’m collecting photos from there in this folder on Flickr, and you can also read an earlier article I wrote about it here on the blog.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lake Apopka Two-fer

Kevin K., Kevin M., and I went round the Wildlife Drive on the Lake Apopka North Shore yesterday.  This 11 mile long section of dirt roads opened to the public earlier this year and provides access to a large part of the restoration area near the lake.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive EntranceLake Apopka Wildlife Drive Entrance.

This was mostly a scouting trip as Kevin K. and I had never been, and since it’s the middle of the summer we didn’t expect to see a lot of wildlife.  But similar to Viera Wetlands, there was lot going on.  We saw many of the usual Florida birds and even some unusual ones like Least Bitterns.  About half way through, we stopped behind another car observing a tree full of birds that turned out to be swallows.

My experience with swallows is that they’re very erratic flyers and seldom sit still – which makes them hard to photograph or even identify.  But these were happily perched in the tree and later on power lines.  This allowed us to get some good photos and recognize several species.  Two (Bank Swallow and Barn Swallow) were lifers for me.  I even got both of them in the same frame – how cool is that?!!

Bank Swallow and Barn SwallowBank Swallow and Barn Swallow

There was a reported sighting of a Northern Rough-winged Swallow at this same place shortly before we got there, but we didn’t see it.  We did see a Purple Martin, which was also cool, although not a life bird.

Lake Apopka was polluted for many years but it seems like the restoration efforts are paying off.  This osprey for example, looks like it’s living large.

Osprey with catfishOsprey and catfish

The wildlife drive doesn’t open until sunrise, so we got there too late for a morning landscape, but we did stop by Lake Monroe in Sanford on the way.  Here’s one image I made there.

Marina at dawnMarina at dawn

Judging by this trip, I’ll be returning often, especially after it cools off and migration starts.  For more info on this place, visit Scott Simmons’ post on his blog.  You can see Kevin Ms photos in this album on Flickr, and Kevin K’s in this album.  I only have a couple in my album so far, but I’ll be adding more.

Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration Area:  another great Central Florida Photo Op!  Go!  See!  Enjoy!

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.