Sunday Drive

Once upon a time, there were two families. They lived almost 300 miles from each other. One family had six children, the other had four. Once a week, on Sunday, their routines were remarkably similar. The day began early with lots of bustling about, having a quick breakfast together, checking skirts, shirts and ties. Church was a big deal. Although a pew was not reserved, each of these families always seemed to occupy the same respective one every week. Trying to keep that many young children attentive during a long sermon must have been a challenge. A “shushhh” from Mother or a loud “Hallelujah!” from the minister was usually enough to keep us all in line. The ultimate silencer, though, would be “The Look” from Dad. None would dare make a peep or continue to fidget after THAT!

Back home, the first priority was to get out of those Sunday clothes! The two Mothers performed their ritual weekly magic and a huge lunch always appeared on the large family dining table. A roast beef and mashed potatoes, a baked ham with apple sauce or mounds of spaghetti. After such a feast, a short nap was in order. Well, our duty as kids was to fight taking naps with a vengeance, so we usually found something to keep us busy while the old folks snoozed. (Funny how now that WE are the old folks, we would love to have a nap!)

About mid-afternoon, both families would pile into the car again for “The Sunday Drive”. There was usually no actual destination for these drives but they usually involved getting “out in the country”. About the time the kids started becoming obnoxious (“She’s TOUCHING me!!”), Dad would say something like “Who wants ice cream?”. Riot control extraordinaire.

Gini and I have often marveled how similar our childhood memories are.

A couple of weeks ago, we went on a Sunday Drive.

We visited Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. Visit the link below for information on exploring Lake Apopka. The 11 mile wildlife drive always seems to offer something wonderful. Today was no exception.

 

It’s fall and migration is in progress. A flock of Fulvous Whistling-Ducks soars over the marsh in search of a protective spot to rest.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Palm Warblers are among the first wood warblers to arrive each season and we saw well over three dozen of the active little birds during the day.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Squawking his displeasure at us interrupting his hunting, a Great Egret flapped to another area where he hopes for more privacy.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

This immature Red-shouldered Hawk paid no attention to us at all as his gaze was fixed on a water snake for breakfast. He grabbed the snake and flew directly into the bright sun, so no photo of him with his prize.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Autumn means the return of one of our favorite raptors, the Northern Harrier. The owl-like face, long tail and checkered wing pattern combined with a low, lilting flight just above the marsh make this hunter a joy to watch.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Rich colors of the Green Heron help it to blend with the surrounding vegetation as it patiently stalks prey such as small fish, frogs, lizards and snakes.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Watching a Great Egret preen, we are reminded how hunters almost decimated the species as they harvested the beautiful long feathers (aigrettes) for ladies’ hats.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Blooms of the water lily decorated a few spaces of open water.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

A pair of Blue-winged Teal are likely migrants as the species typically does not spend the whole year in central Florida.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

This Fulvous Whistling-Duck appears to be peeved that I’m taking his portrait.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

A large lake bordered by a vast expanse of marsh interspersed with canals makes excellent habitat for the American Alligator. We observed many dozens. They, in turn, observed us.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Several species of freshwater turtles call this area home. Here, a Peninsula Turtle lounges on a limb and soaks up a little sunshine.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

When bees are covered in pollen identification (for me) becomes difficult.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Gaining altitude over the wetlands, an immature Bald Eagle almost looks “dirty”. This is probably a third-year bird and this time next year she should be decked out in fresh white and black plumage.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

There are many variations of the Stink Bug and I think this one is a Brown Stink Bug (Euschistus sp.). Most members of this insect family can damage a wide variety of crops.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Don’t tell this Common Gallinule he’s common. I did and he took offense.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

The bill of this small diving bird provides a clue to how it got its name, Pied-billed Grebe. (Gini calls them “fuzzy butts”. Call the ornithological union.)

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Throughout the marsh there are plenty of snags from which hunters such as the Little Blue Heron can perch and scan below for a meal.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

One of the largest and most efficient of hunters, the Great Blue Heron, is not only magnificent to look at but is also amazing to observe as it hunts a huge variety of prey.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Another early migrant, the American Bittern, specializes in camouflage. When it stands motionless in front of reeds and holds its head toward the sky, it can become almost invisible.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Florida residents. Paper wasps are common and if you don’t provide the respect they deserve you will receive a painful reminder to keep your distance!

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

We thoroughly enjoyed our Sunday Drive. Just as I started to get a bit fidgety, Gini said there was ice cream ahead! Turned out to be grilled German sausage and apple pie. Just as good!

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Additional Information:

Lake Apopka North Shore

 

Postscript

On the way home from our Sunday Drive, we received a phone call. Help was needed. We went home, packed and headed north.

On October 10th, Hurricane Michael made landfall as a Category 4 storm very near my brother’s home. As the storm churned northeastward, it passed directly over the homes of two of Gini’s brothers. Thankfully, all three families had evacuated and received no injuries. Property damage was extensive, unfortunately, and it will be awhile before things return to normal.

We helped in our small way by providing some food and cleaning up a seemingly infinite number of downed tree limbs. Other family members pitched in with financial aid and helped as they were able.

Safely back home, we are thankful for all we have and, for awhile, will try not to take what we have for granted.

Life is good. Enjoy it!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “Sunday Drive

  1. Wonderful images– hard to pick a favorite and love them all. The harrier and the bittern got my attention because I saw the first of the season for both only this past weekend when I led a wetlands walk in Pembroke Pines.

  2. As always your photos are beautiful – the water lily is my favorite. BTW – different country and different church but family practices were very similar including the car drive to get us all ‘ out in the country’! Oh yes , the storms can be equally disastrous in different countries. Keep safe and keep posting!

    • Appreciate your visit, Mick. The more we all learn about each other it seems the we discover we are not so different.
      Our temperatures are pleasant this week so we’ll try to get out and about a bit.
      Might even try to post a blog entry!

      All the best.

  3. Hope all your family and friends will be OK. We have some cyclonic episodes here, too.
    In the photo of your “pollinised” bee, did you notice the little spider?

    • It will take awhile to complete repairs but at least no one was hurt. Good eyes to spot the spider! I think it’s a Lynx Spider. Should have given him proper billing but I didn’t get him in focus.

  4. Hi Wally. I have been watching with interest the way your FL weather has been up and down – a little like our own, but without the hurricanes. It’s always good to hear that fellow bloggers and family have made safe.

    As to your drives, that all sounds so familiar but now with our various grandkids and their propensity to treat a drive in the car to or from school as a chance to “wind-up” Nana and Grandad. Happy days. Good to see you back blogging. I do watch. Nothing for weeks and then here you are – bit like a tropical storm.

    • “Happy days” are a good thing! Especially with grandkids.
      Yep, that’s us, a tropical storm blog! Never know when we will show up but guaranteed to be full of air!
      Have a good week!

  5. Richard Pegler

    I guess that Sunday drives don’t get much better than this, Wally. What a wonderful array of wildlife you captured in your lens!

    I’m very sorry to hear of the problems that hurricane Michael caused your families, but relieved to hear that they escaped injury. I hope the damage to their homes can be repaired without too much delay, but I expect that the services of those equiped to fix things are in very high demand after an event like that. My fingers are crossed for them.

    Sorry to be so late in visiting your blog. I too have been rather heavily engaged with family problems, although of a totally different nature to yours over there, but with potentiall consequences just as serious.

    Take good care, and keep well. With my very best wishes – – – Richard

    • Thank you, Richard. Sorry to hear of any problems you’re having and we hope they are short-lived.
      All is good here and we’re having our first cool temperatures of the season. Feels good!

  6. HI Wally well I am sure you thought I was dead and buried and I must apologise for not commenting over the past months. Life got a notch up busier and my older brother has a bad stoke and is still recovery but now has dementia. Anyway, enough of me, this was a wonderful Sunday drive and I loved hearing about your past 2 families. The birds you saw and the photographs you took of them all are spectacular. Love the feathering on the necks of all the Herons. I was very sorry to hear about how the hurricane affected your family but very glad they were all OK. Gina is right, “the fuzzy butt” is a great name or that Grebe. Keep birding with your beloved and keep well.

    • Hello, Margaret! How wonderful to hear from you!
      We are sorry to hear about your brother and you are in our prayers.
      Our lives here also “got a notch up busier” lately and we haven’t been able to create or visit blogs much. Life continues to be good!
      May your upcoming week be filled with peace and love.

  7. Thinking of your family in the panhandle and glad everyone had evacuated. You got so many great shots at Lake Apopka. I never seem to have much luck there.

    • Thank you very much, Dina. We appreciate your thoughts.
      The photos are the result of my very careful application of a technique I learned many years ago: “It’s better to be lucky than good!” 🙂

  8. I’m gonna use fuzzy butt for grebes from now on!

  9. Thank you so much for taking us on your Sunday Drive. Awe and wonder. I love them all, but am particularly blown away by the bee and the polllen.
    Sorry to hear that Hurricane Michael wasn’t kind to your family, and glad that the damage was limited to property.

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