Thursday, January 01, 2015

2015 New Year's Day Hike, Part 1

Happy New Year! Sometimes I like to find a new place to hike on the first day of the year. Today I hiked part or the Lake Apopka Loop Trail. I wanted to try and see some new birds that were being reported which I figured would take me a few miles. I didn't count on the 13 miles I actually ended up walking.

Loop Sign

The morning was totally overcast the entire trip. The best shot of one of the many Eastern Phoebes was pretty gloomy.

Eastern Phoebe

Not long after the first turn I noticed a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher flitting about the shrubs.

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher

A lot of other birders were down the road searching for the same birds that I was but none were showing right now. Over in the marsh a few Glossy Ibis searched for breakfast.

Glossy Ibis

A couple mile down the trail I reached the Orange County line.

Orange County Sign

A Killdeer called and flew back and forth across the road and finally posed for me by the picnic shelter.

Killdeer

Around the next turn, a Great Egret watched me carefully.

Great Egret

I thought I would be able to see Lake Apopka by now but the trail just kept turning back and forth. I came to a large canal and thought I would just keep going until I did reach the lake shore.

Canal

Down in the canal, a large Alligator was deciding to come up the bank. Big boy!

Alligator

Just when I though the lake was in reach, the trail switched back again. Dang. At least I had a few Savannah Sparrows to keep me company.

Savannah Sparrow

There were many signs of mammals around but I wasn't finding them. Just scat up and down the roadway.

Scat

There were signs along the trail every now and then. I didn't notice until I took the photo that they were milage signs. They marked the distance from the other end of the trail near Magnolia Park but I was not going that far. Just to the lake. I hope.

Sign

A couple Bald Eagles passed overhead as I stubbornly walked down the trail despite by now aching feet.

Bald Eagle

At last! The edge of Lake Apopka. No real number of birds around. Definitely not on the water. I did finally hear a flock of Fulvous Whistling Ducks but they kept back in the marsh so I couldn't get a photo. It was one of the birds I was after, however.

Lake Apopka

I continued to a more open spot on the lake and could see the Pumphouse in the distance. This was as far as I would go before turning back. Going to be a long haul.

Pumphouse

One thing you, hopefully, learn as a birder is to keep an eye on the ground. Anthills are all over and the last thing you want is to be so interested in a bird that you stand on one by mistake. It is a quick lesson.

Anthill

Back near the trail switchback a pair of Anhinga chased one another.

Anhinga

The broke through the clouds for a couple of minutes and gave me a good view of one of the many Little Blue Herons I saw today.

Little Blue Heron

At the canal, the big Alligator had reached to bank and I noticed it brought along a friend. I wanted a better shot but I figured I would not have enough energy for escape if I got too close.

Alligator

In another canal I found another Alligator with a better profile.

Alligator

Finally! A mammal!! This Raccoon was busy checking the vegetation for a morsel until it noticed me about to take its picture.

Raccoon

Nearing the Picnic shelter a spotted a Red-shouldered Hawk having a meal. I could not tell what it was eating.

Red-shouldered Hawk

When I reached the shelter I noticed a mass up ahead next to the road. A little closer and I could tell it was another mammal. A Bobcat. Resting. Until I got a few feet closer.

Bobcat

A juvenile Little Blue Heron kept an eye on me as I trudged past.

Little Blue Heron

A good sign. Back into Lake County which meant I was only a couple of miles from the car. Not going to Clay Island today. I did that hike a few years ago on New Year's Day.

Sign

I was still hoping to add a couple more interesting birds for the day. But those will keep until the next post. Man, my feet hurt...

2 comments:

Nora said...

Lovely series of photos. We had a phoebe here but I never got to see it. Looks like you had a long but great hike.

J. Andrew Boyle said...

Thanks, Nora. About to post Part 2!