Apopka Wildlife Drive

It’s hard to believe it has been 5+ months since I last worked up the time and energy to create a new blog post. For those that look forward to my posts, I apologize for being away for so long. Life has a way of interfering with the things I like to do. Actually I can attribute a lot of this to just plain laziness. I could have squeezed out some time here and there, but I found myself in a bit of a creative slump. Not only was I not writing, but I wasn’t doing a lot of photography either. Being 12 months behind in processing images can be overwhelming and I think that contributed to a lack of enthusiasm to make the pile even bigger.

I have been out shooting recently, although not as frequently as in years past. Today I’m determined to catch up on my blog a bit and get a few posts ready. After all, I spent time in September to redesign my blog and give it different look and feel, so now I need to put in some content!

My plans for this past Saturday fell through late Friday, so I decided I would take a drive out to the Apopka Wildlife Drive. The 11 mile drive zigs and zags from the east shore to the north shore of Lake Apopka. I had been there a few times before, and although I find abundant wildlife to view, I haven’t had any outstanding photography opportunities on my previous trips. That changed on Saturday and having my plans fall through on Friday really worked out in my favor.

I arrived just before sunrise and for the first 3-4 miles, I didn’t see anything worth pointing the camera at. Yes, there was a lot of wildlife out and about, thousands of tree swallows and yellow-rumped warblers, but nothing out of the ordinary. I did think that this juvenile little blue heron was on a nice perch. The juveniles are pure white with green legs and molt into their all blue plumage in their second year. Click the images to view larger.

Apopka Wildlife Drive
Little Blue Heron

A bit further into the drive I came across a song sparrow. I have seen and photographed song sparrows in other states, but this was my first one for Florida.

Apopka Wildlife Drive
Song Sparrow

It’s always a treat when you find an American bittern out in the open. I knew Donna had something good when I pulled up behind her and found her kneeling in an ant bed using the car door as a blind. Anything to get the shot!

Apopka Wildlife Drive
American Bittern

A little ways beyond the bittern I spied an Anhinga with its breakfast. By the time I got there, breakfast had already been speared and coated with some dirt to make it even more appetizing. I’m pretty sure this is an armoured catfish which is an invasive species. They inhabit our lakes and ponds after being dumped from an aquarium by someone who no longer wants them. Regardless of the species, the Anhinga gobbled it right down.

Apopka Wildlife Drive
Anhinga

Donna couldn’t see the Anhinga from where she was and thought I was frantically shooting a sleeping gator. I usually ignore gators, but I didn’t want to disappoint the gator and I know how much Faith loves gators (not!), so I took an obligatory shot of him. He’s just a baby.

Apopka Wildlife Drive
American Alligator

By far the best opportunity of the day was when I ran into “bob”. I saw “bob” on a berm across a canal and as I stopped the car, we both just stared at each other. After about 20-30 seconds, “bob” slunked down below the berm to play a little hide and seek. He kept popping his head up as he worked his way towards me and eventually to a cutover where he could cross the canal without swimming. Donna had come up behind me while “bob” and I were playing hide and seek, so she backed up about 50 yards to the cutover to wait him out. He cross the canal a mere 20 feet from her car and she got the full body shot. Even though I would have liked the same shot, I’m very happy with my hide and seek shot.

Apopka Wildlife Drive
Bobcat

It was good to be back out with the camera and I’ll make a return visit to the Apopka Wildlife Drive soon.

7 Comments

  • Donna Faylo

    February 21, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Great photos, great blog, and I feel so privileged to be mentioned so frequently. LOL!

  • Debbie Tubridy

    February 24, 2016 at 1:09 pm

    Hi Michael! It’s so good to see you posting on your blog again. You were so helpful to me when I first wanted to start mine. These are some awesome shots. Love your bobcat image. Funny because I was searching for the YNP bobcat when I first saw your shot. I also saw a “Bob”cat, which turned out to be Bob, the cat. LOL. Hope to get out shooting with you guys one day soon … just let me know what and when would be good. Luckily, I have more free time now. 🙂

    • Michael

      February 25, 2016 at 1:23 pm

      Craniac season starts any day now, Debbie. You need to be thinking of a road trip to Central Florida! We should probably get you and Tom out on a “monkey cruise” too.

  • Don Weesner

    February 25, 2016 at 10:37 am

    Morning Michael:
    I really don’t know how you do it but DONT STOP.
    Great photos again, spotting a Bob cat is nearly impossible here in AZ. The elk, Havalia (sp) , Coyotes, Foxes, I do catch on my game camera in the lot next door to my home but nothing like your accomplishment’s.
    Uncle Don

    • Michael

      February 25, 2016 at 1:22 pm

      Thanks, Don!

  • Sandy Weesner

    February 25, 2016 at 10:48 am

    Mike,

    Your photos are just amazing.

    • Michael

      February 25, 2016 at 1:21 pm

      Thank you, Sandy!