Posts Tagged With: white ibis

Patching Things Up

“The greater effort you expend the more rewarding will be your results.” I’m sure they didn’t use those words, but our parents made certain we understood the concept. Their parents drilled it into them that hard work would provide what they need to survive. Thanks to my genius in marrying well, Gini was successful in raising our two children with those same values. We are infinitely proud to see those traits being passed along to grandchildren.

Birders exhibit similar behavior. If we drive for hours, hack through the bush with our machete, tip-toe across the swamp on the snouts of alligators, fight off hordes of malaria-carrying mosquitoes and arrive in a clearing just as the sun is about to peek above the horizon – well, naturally we will be amply compensated for all that effort by having the best day ever of birding, replete with a diverse number of rarities never before observed by mortal bird-watchers!

You get the idea.

In all our fervor to explore distant venues and chase those elusive “lifers”, it’s easy to forget about what’s close to home. Our “Patch”. Sure, it may not produce some exotic sighting or allow one to tick off a hundred species in half an hour, but it’s just ten minutes away. No machete needed.

I arrived at Lake Parker Park just as the sun was about to peek above the horizon (that sounds familiar) and the moon was sinking in the western sky. I’ve developed a loosely defined pattern over the years in which I check the reeds near the boat ramp first for Least Bitterns, hike north along the shoreline, follow a canal westward, check the big oak trees in the open park area, peek into the shallow pond by the soccer fields, scan the soccer fields for ground-feeders, check the tall light supports for raptors, probe a row of mulberry trees and then back to the parking lot. A couple of miles, a couple of hours.

Sometimes, as with birding anywhere, there are surprises. Always, there is satisfaction.

 

I was glad a hand-held shot with the 600mm lens produced a passable image of a not-quite-full moon as it neared the horizon.

Lake Parker Park

 

As fall migration ramps up, the Blue-gray Gnatcatcher forms into groups, sometimes with other species, and it is common to see several in one trip. (Today’s total was 28.)

Lake Parker Park

 

Like an old friend returning home, the tail-pumping Palm Warbler began arriving in small numbers last week. Soon, they will be everywhere and birders will be exclaiming: “Uhh, just another Palm!” Although easily dismissed due to their profusion and relatively plain appearance, they are among my favorite birds.

Lake Parker Park

 

An Anhinga dries its wings before another plunge into the lake for more breakfast.

Lake Parker Park

 

Similar to the Palm Warbler, the Eastern Phoebe (also a tail-pumper) is returning to the area and is a welcome sight. Many of these small flycatchers will remain here all winter while most of their relatives will continue on to South America.

Lake Parker Park

 

A year-round resident, the Red-shouldered Hawk is our most abundant raptor. This one was very upset that I passed under HER tree. She circled me three times yelling the whole time before returning to the same branch once I had moved along.

Lake Parker Park

 

Like soldiers on a mission, a group of White Ibis marched across the park lawn constantly probing the soft ground.

Lake Parker Park

 

Male American Redstarts are hard to miss with their inky black feathers highlighted with bright orange. The female is more subdued in her gray cloak with tasteful yellow markings.

Lake Parker Park

Lake Parker Park

 

Whoa! Something different! This was only the third time I’ve seen a Black-throated Blue Warbler. A handsome male who finally remained still long enough for a snapshot.

Lake Parker Park

 

In past years, it has been uncommon to see very many Magnolia Warblers. This season, quite a few have been reported around the county. I was happy to catch a glimpse of this colorful migrant.

Lake Parker Park

 

Although not uncommon, it is always a treat to see the colorful male Northern Parula. As winter progresses, they will disappear until spring.

Lake Parker Park

 

A nice walk, a beautiful morning, lots of bird activity, fresh migrants, old friends. All only ten minutes from the front door. As you plan your next birding adventure up the peak of Mt. Fuji, don’t forget your local patch!

 

We hope  you enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , | 15 Comments

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive (2/4)

(Welland Road, Roach Road)

About this time two years ago, Florida was raked with winds and rain thanks to a rude lady named Irma. The hurricane downed trees and utility lines, dumping up to two feet of water in some areas as she stomped up the peninsula. The north shore of Lake Apopka experienced a breach in one of the levees built to protect 20,000 acres of wetland from being inundated by water from the main lake. After Irma, it’s estimated 75% of that area was under a couple of feet of water.

One of the results of that storm for the Wildlife Drive was a change in topography. Many trees were uprooted by the storm’s winds and some water flows were altered. Biologists report that, overall, wildlife in the area suffered no long-term ill effects. Hopefully, they are correct. For observers, there is now more open water area to scan and may result in more winter waterfowl being seen.

It is not winter now. Florida in summer can be oppressive, even for us natives. Temperatures in the high 90 F range with humidity percentages the same. Drink plenty of water, wear a hat, enjoy your vehicle’s air-conditioning. Watch out for sudden storms. In all that wonderful open space, lightning seeks the highest point to strike. Thankfully, we are not tall people.

Gini makes even fruit and simple sandwiches into something special. Enjoying our meal while watching birds fly around us, frogs grunting in the duckweed, alligators cruising the canal – what heat?

A short way along Welland Road, Gini’s sharp ears heard the grunt/chuckle of a King Rail. Two of the secretive birds struck up a conversation and I waited in vain for one to make an appearance. While I was waiting, a small colorful movement caught my eye. Laying in the grass allowed me to capture a few images of Rambur’s Forktail, in three of its color stages.

More movement. Dragonflies, butterflies, moths. Overhead, Ibises, Ospreys, a flock of ducks. The rails clucked behind me. A curious alligator poked his snout from under a lily pad. Delirious from the heat? Nah, just enjoying our small slice of Nature’s paradise.

We ambled along as slowly as possible, stopping often, pulling over to gawk at more of the same. Making the turn onto Laughlin Road we wondered what else could we possibly hope to see?

Stay tuned.

(Click on the link below for information on the drive and then click on the map to see the road references.)

 

A combination of gold and black fluttering low above the ground is eye-catching. A Halloween Pennant (Celithemis eponina) finally took mercy and posed on a grass top for a quick photo op.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Ungainly-looking on the ground as they probe the mud with long bills, the White Ibis is beautiful and graceful in flight.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Very small damselflies are easy to overlook as they hide in the weeds and try to keep a low profile to avoid predators. One of the more unusual of these fascinating insects is Rambur’s Forktail (Ischnura ramburii). The male has a green and black thorax, a black and gold abdomen and blue tail. The female can look similar to the male but with a blue and black thorax or she can sport a couple of totally different appearances. To make it even more fun, all of the combinations can look different in different geographical regions. Whew!

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Male

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Andromorph Female

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Immature Heteromorph Female

 

Even in mid-summer, the wetlands are full of flowering plants. One that is especially prominent is the American White Waterlily (Nymphaea odorata) .

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Easy to mistake for a wasp, the tiny Eastern Amberwing (Perithemis tenera) catches the light of the sun and reflects pure gold wherever it flies. The wings of the male are fairly plain while those of the female have dark spots. (Surprise! There can be significant variation is these patterns.)

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Male

 

Fresh catfish is on this Osprey’s brunch menu. I was very fortunate to go fishing with my Dad a lot when I was growing up. He would look up from the boat, point out an Osprey and say: “Wish we were as good as that Fish Hawk at catching ’em!” Me, too.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

 

Laughlin Road lay stretched out before us like a straight white arrow. Wetlands on each side extended nearly to opposing horizons.

What would we find?

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

 

Additional Information

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel, Wildlife | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 17 Comments

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