Driving around a lake in central Florida

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The Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is an 11 mile drive along a lake north of Orlando.  The weekend Brett and I stayed in Orlando, we got up early and drove through the area before heading back to Tampa. The 11 miles zig zags back and forth with channels running on either side.

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The first things we say were birds of prey.  A northern harrier, a young red shoulder hawk and a kestrel right when we drove in.

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A great egret fighting with a snake.

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Fulvous whistling ducks were far out in the lake.

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Alligators of all sizes were along the drive including that big one in the last picture. His head was huge. I wish his entire body was out of the water. He has got to be the biggest one I’ve seen out in the wild.

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Pretty plants along the way.

SkyWatch Friday

If birds could talk

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“I need to get an agent” said the limpkin who sat there while tons of people were taking his picture.

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“I’m going back to sleep” said the grumpy red shoulder hawk.

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“I’m not going to do anything interesting. Take my picture just like this lady” said the great blue heron.

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‘Yes, we are a dime a dozen” said all of the phoebes.

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“Look ma, no hands” said the anhinga climbing up the branch.

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“What are you looking at?” said the snowy egret.

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“No I’m not going to look at you just so you can take my picture” said the gnatcatcher.

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“We’re trying to blend in but I don’t think it’s working” said the great egret to the cattle egret.

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“Everyone look up at me” said the rare Harrier Hawk.

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“She’d better be bringing home bacon cause I’m tired of bringing all the sticks” said the bald eagle as he headed for the nest.

Lots of birds but not a lot of activity in mid-November. They were all just sitting there, except for the eagles. They were both bringing sticks back to the nest. You could see them flying back and forth over the trail heading to the nest but you can’t see the nest. It’s hidden high up in the trees, facing the lake. In the mornings before 11am, people are lined up on the trail to see the eagles flying back and forth.

The Northern Harrier hawk was a surprise. It was a first time ever seeing one. I had heard there was one flying around earlier but didn’t think I would see it and right before leaving he flew right over my head.

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Looking high up – Skywatch Friday

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The great blue heron couple are already on the nest. She must be on eggs since there is now always one of them sitting on the nest. This was early December so we should be able to see any babies by mid-January. Last year they had two babies but only one survived.

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After a while, she stood up to stretch.

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She’s either turning over the eggs or fixing that stick that was poking her.

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I found an eagle preening himself high up in the tree.

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Through the moss, he stayed there for a while and then flew off.

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While I was watching the great blue heron nest, the eagle flew back with something in his talons.

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He was heading for a nest with some padding.

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Later I saw this bird flying high up. It’s not a red shoulder hawk or a cooper’s hawk. It looks like a northern harrier from my Stokes Birding guide. If so, it’s a first for me. Or he could be a merlin. Please correct me if I’m wrong.

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Another angle. He took off and this was the last shot I got.

Another beautiful morning at Circle B Bar Reserve.

Check out more sky pictures at Skywatch Friday