Friday, July 03, 2015

Lake Apopka North Shore Drive, Pt. 1

I have been waiting to get out to the new Lake Apopka North Shore Drive. Folks have been reporting fun birds but the drive is only open Friday-Sunday and my weekends have been a bit too crazy. Today I finally got my chance to head out.

I wanted to get there as soon as it opened and was greeted by a nice bright Moon before dawn in downtown Orlando on the way to the drive.


The beginning of the drive is at the end of Lust Road where many birders have gone for years but as far as you could go was the gate which is now open and has a new sign welcoming visitors.


Many carloads of birders were already on the Drive ahead of me. At the first little job was a very boisterous Black-necked Stilt family. Every time the chick would wander a bit too far, Mom would start calling loudly for all to stay away.

Black-necked Stilt

Eventually, the Black-necked Stilt chick would return to a parent's side to feed closer. I tried to get some shots of the parents attempting to shoo off a Glossy Ibis to no avail. The Ibis didn't seem to care too much about the fuss.

Black-necked Stilt

The best thing about the Lake Apopka North Shore Drive is that it heads due West for most of the time so the lighting is perfect in the early morning.

Lake Apopka North Shore Drive

Dragonflies were all over at daybreak. Occasionally one would light atop a swaying grassy stalk.


Green Herons were flying across the drive all morning but never settled in for a photo. Tricolored Herons were a bit more cooperative.

Tricolored Heron

Common Gallinules were also abundant but you don't often see one sitting up on an exposed branch!

Common Gallinule

Looking over the edge of the road I spotted an Anhinga making a catch and had to strain over the passenger seat to get a snap.


I was actually surprised I didn't see too many American Alligators out today. I have seen more hiking the North Shore in the past. Some BIG ones in some of the canals.

American Alligator

Great Blue Herons prowled the edges of the water but I didn't see any score a breakfast on my rounds.

Great Blue Heron

Red-winged Blackbirds were beyond counting. They were all over with most males calling and defending territories.

Red-winged Blackbird

Not a lot of vultures around this morning but I did have a nice close fly-by of an adult Turkey Vulture.

Turkey Vulture

This early in the morning the Ospreys were feeding and feasting all up and down the Drive. I will devote another post exclusively about Ospreys soon.


Most of the vegetation is weedy shrubs, grasses, and Cattails but every now and then a splash of color would appear like the white Moon Glory blossoms.

Moon Glory

Down by the Pump House turn a female Anhinga rested on a structure across the water.


I decided to take the righthand turn past the Pump House not knowing there was another stretch closer to the lake. I would take that portion of the drive next time around. This lane was fairly bird free and the only big bird I spotted first was a Limpkin. Too bad I could only get a shot through the wind shield.


On the opposite side, a wet male Anhinga tried to stay out of view.


At the end of this northerly drive I started to see Barn Swallows swooping over the canal at the bend. As I turned to head toward a flock sitting on wires ahead I noticed a Great Blue Heron sunning in the roadway. It is always fun to see this behavior.

Great Blue Heron

Just past the heron, a pair of Roseate Spoonbills were crossing to reach the canal and fields to the North.

Roseate Spoonbill

The Barn Swallows here were copious with only a few resting on the wires. Many more were feeding and returning to nests under a small bridge over the canal. I ended up with a lot of swallow photos (with a rather interesting discovery) that warrant them their own post in the future, as well.

Barn Swallow

The final bird shot on this pass was a female Red-winged Blackbird that was searching through the grasses for a snack.

Red-winged Blackbird

I thought of just heading home then but, as mentioned earlier, I found that there was another spur of the Drive so I swung back around to take one more pass and hoped for some interesting shot. Glad I did. Stay tuned...

No comments: