Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive, 7/18/2015

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The Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration Area arguably boasts the best inland birding in the State of Florida. But until recently most of the area has been closed to the general public most of the year. During the annual Christmas Bird Count, birders are granted access to the restoration area, but most of the area has been off limits for most of the year.

However, earlier this year God smiled up on the lowly birders of Central Florida and opened up a Wildlife Drive that takes you through the heart of the restoration area. This has opened up a huge area for birders and wildlife enthusiasts to visit during the weekends (and national holidays).

The drive is 11 miles long, and I normally take about 4 hours to get through from one end to the other.

Northern Rough-winged Swallow

So this morning my father and I arrived around 6:15 am and took our time making our way through the drive until we left around 10:30 am. We saw a Great Horned Owl on a tall post near the eastern end of Lust Rd. The biggest highlight was seeing a Gray Kingbird. One was seen here in early June, but it has been really hard to find after June 20th. I tried several times in June to see it, but it successfully hid from me until today. Unfortunately it was a little too early in the morning for photos.

The second best highlight of the drive was all the swallows. We saw dozens of Barn Swallows, which are expected, but we also saw another dozen Bank Swallows, a juvi Northern Rough-winged Swallow, and several Purple Martins.

Green Heron

Herons and Egrets also abound. I’m amazed at how many Green Herons and Least Bitterns we see when we’re there. At least 20 Green Herons flew by the road, and several Least Bitterns were calling. This one posed very briefly before flying out of sight.

Least Bittern

Throughout June and July we’ve had the opportunity to see Shiny Cowbirds (both a male and a female) in a sod field along the drive. Earlier in July I sorted through about thousand of these:

Red-winged BlackbirdJuly 3, 2015

To find one of these:

Shiny CowbirdJuly 3, 2015

Today we searched through these same fields looking for shorebirds. We had about 100 Killdeer and at least one and one . Here’s my eBird checkist for the morning.

 

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Scott Simmons

Scott Simmons, based in Florida, is a lover of nature, landscape, and wildlife photography. Scott became interested in photography in 2001 when he was given his first SLR camera. When he acquired a telephoto lens, he became progressively more interested in birds and other wildlife. Scott enjoys learning about bird habitats and behavior, striving always to take images that are both beautiful and interpretive. Scott believes photography is a great vehicle to help others to appreciate the wonder for the stuff of earth.

Scott Simmons

Scott Simmons, based in Florida, is a lover of nature, landscape, and wildlife photography. Scott became interested in photography in 2001 when he was given his first SLR camera. When he acquired a telephoto lens, he became progressively more interested in birds and other wildlife. Scott enjoys learning about bird habitats and behavior, striving always to take images that are both beautiful and interpretive. Scott believes photography is a great vehicle to help others to appreciate the wonder for the stuff of earth.

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Tommie Rogers

Lake Apopka area is priceless for birds and habitat. Thank you for sharing your experience.

Nikki Sawasdee

Lovely.