The morning I drove through Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive in late June the lake was full of wading birds. Great egrets, snowy egrets, great blue herons, little blue herons and lots of alligators. But only at the start of the long drive.
While most of the birds were far out on the lake, there wasn’t a lot of them close to the trails.
There were lots of gators close to the trails including the bottom one that I spotted when I got out of my car to take some pictures. At a place like this, I always look around first before snapping. He wasn’t really as close as this seems, I cropped it up. But it still felt close.
The clouds started moving in. There wasn’t a lot of wildlife in this wildlife park on this particular morning.
Above is a pano of one of the side drives that I took just to get away from the traffic. The only thing I saw was the alligator above with his head poking out of the weeds. Even though I was there early on a Friday morning, the main drive was backed up with cars. There are places to pull over every so often but people tend to block the drive instead of pulling off and getting out to walk around. Patience is an extreme virtue at this park especially when it’s a quiet morning and there’s not a lot of wildlife to take pictures of. I spent half the morning answering emails on my phone. I would just park and walk the entire drive but it’s 11 miles one way and you come out at the other side of the lake. So needless to say, this isn’t one of my favorite places although people who live close by and go frequently get a lot of great pictures. It’s more than an hour from my house so I only go once or twice a year.
I just happened to be walking down the trail when I saw 2 sandhill cranes walking around. I didn’t think anything of it until one of the cranes started spreading her wings. I thought “Oh well, they’re going to fly away.” but no, they had something else in mind. By now there are hopefully crane babies out there somewhere.
All the other birds were busy eating fish and bugs along the trails.
Great blue heron cruising by.
Busy morning for the birds in mid March at Circle B Bar Reserve.
I watched this great blue heron play with this fish for a while. He kept flipping it over, dropping it and then picking it up several times on to flip it again. I was hoping to catch him swallowing it but after I while I gave up.
Even the black bellied whistling ducks that were close by stopped to watch him.
I broke a cardinal rule when out on the trails. Not paying attention to what’s around you. I saw the heron above with his fish and was moving around trying to get a good shot in between the trees before he swallowed it. After snapping a few pictures, I saw the above out of the corner of my eye. He was inches from my head. He probably wouldn’t have done much damage other than to my mental well-being but I should have looked around first. Their bite on humans is mostly like a bad mosquito bite. The trees along the trails at Circle B Bar Reserve are full of these silk orb weavers. “Look up for spiders and snakes and down for alligators before taking shots.”
The very common palm warbler. They were falling from the sky. I’ll try not to take too many pictures of them this winter, even though they are the most accommodating birds.
Even though you can’t see his legs in this shot, this is a yellowlegs. He’s a shorebird that should be at the beach. He was all alone in a small marsh.
Another missed baby black bellied whistling duck opportunity. They were far out in the marsh and getting ready for a nap. They were probably going to stay in that spot for hours.
I counted six but I think there were more hiding in the reeds.
Phoebes where everywhere and you could hear that distinct call all over the reserve.
This common yellowthroat sat still for 20 seconds. Long enough for me to get the above. Then he took off.
A barred owl was sleeping close to the trail and everyone was stopping to watch him. He would not wake up and he was hidden behind a lot of branches. We kept going down trail and an hour later when we came back, he was still sleeping.
“This is how I eat my dinner. Bang the fish on the branch so he won’t wiggle when he goes down my throat.”
Yes, I have a ton of blue-gray gnatcatcher shots. But they are so cute and there were so many of them.
The great blue heron doesn’t bang his fish before swallowing. He flips it over a few times and swallows it wiggling.
More of the usual stuff from Circle B Bar Reserve. The first weekend in November was perfect. Although we were a little cold starting out. 50 degrees at 8am. I didn’t even take my jacket off until we got in the car at noon.