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 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.
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:
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.
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