Back to Lake Apopka!

After taking the previous week off from birding, I went back out to Lake Apopka with Camille, but instead of starting at the Wildlife Drive, we first attempted to drive up to the small ponds and marshes to the west of the lake. Last time here, we drove to the Apopka-Beauclair Canal Lock and Dam and saw there might be access along the canal to the ponds, but we did not stop there. This time we attempted to go in, but were stopped by a facility employee who told us the area was actually off limits. I found this to be odd, as the location is listed as an eBird hotspot. Before leaving we did see a few dozen Barn Swallows, along with some other birds.

Apopka-Beauclair Canal Lock species:
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24315914

  • Great Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Common Gallinule
  • Northern Flicker
  • Barn Swallow
  • Eastern Bluebird

Since access to the ponds proved to be fruitless that way, we parked at the Loop Trail entrance and walked part of the trail, eventually getting out near the canal, south of the locks. As we approached a bridge over the canals, a bright yellow bird caught my eye in some brushy vegetation. At first I thought it might be a Yellow-breasted Chat, but on closer inspection I saw that it was a tanager! In fact there were three tanagers – all female Summer Tanagers, to be specific. Their appearance caught me off guard, and at first there was some confusion as to what they were. But after checking the field guides and some online photographs, I was satisfied that these were Summer Tanagers. This species was a life bird for the both of us, so that was something to cheer about.

North Shore Trail species:
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24315919

  • Anhinga
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Tricolored Heron
  • Cattle Egret
  • Green Heron
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Osprey
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Common Gallinule
  • Common Ground Dove
  • Red-bellied Woodpecker
  • Downy Woodpecker
  • Great Crested Flycatcher
  • Carolina Wren
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Summer Tanager (life!)
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Indigo Bunting
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Common Grackle
  • Boat-tailed Grackle

Instead of crossing the bridge to continue on the trail, I realized the only way back to the parking area was to walk up the east side of the canal. This meant not being right adjacent to the ponds, but there were good views of it nonetheless. Apart from more of the usual suspects (egrets, herons, blackbirds, Osprey), nothing much was happening. Eventually getting back to the car, we decided go to the Wildlife Drive.

There had been reports of a Bank Swallow hanging out with the Barn Swallows (much like the lone Tree Swallow from a few weeks ago). As we approached the area the swallows seem to favor, I scanned the wires. To my delight, there was the Bank Swallow!

Otherwise, as we drove the most notable species were the Anhingas (dozens), Cattle Egrets (several dozen) and Common Gallinules. Many of the gallinules had immatures with them – only a few had very small chicks, as the summer is wearing on.

At the area we saw the Swallow-tailed and Mississippi Kites last time, there were several Swallow-tailed Kites very high up and this Brown-headed Cowbird, but that was all.

There were a few Red-shouldered Hawks, including one young bird that posed on a utility pole for a while. Further along the drive as we approached the exit, a Cooper’s Hawk and an adult Red-shouldered Hawk had a disagreement over airspace, with the Cooper’s actually driving the Red-shouldered Hawk away.

Wildlife Drive species:
http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S24315925

  • Anhinga
  • Least Bittern
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Great Egret
  • Snowy Egret
  • Little Blue Heron
  • Tricolored Heron
  • Cattle Egret
  • Green Heron
  • White Ibis
  • Glossy Ibis
  • Black Vulture
  • Turkey Vulture
  • Osprey
  • Swallow-tailed Kite
  • Cooper’s Hawk
  • Red-shouldered Hawk
  • Common Gallinule
  • American Coot
  • Common Ground-dove
  • Belted Kingfisher
  • Bank Swallow (FOY / long time)
  • Barn Swallow
  • Carolina Wren
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • European Starling
  • Eastern Towhee
  • Northern Cardinal
  • Red-winged Blackbird
  • Common Grackle
  • Boat-tailed Grackle
  • Brown-headed Cowbird

Another satisfying trip to Lake Apopka. It’s going to be really great birding there in the fall when the shorebirds and waterfowl come in, and again in the spring. During the normally quiet summer this has been one of the few productive birding spots in Central Florida.

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