Only four of us showed up for this one. The weather forecast likely kept some folks home. Here’s a photo of us. It was taken by a member of Hernando Audubon. They were there, also. We all “worked” together as we traversed the 11 mile Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.
The weather and the birding turned out to be great from the get-go. Right at the entrance, we got a southwestern bird—an Ash-throated Flycatcher—that had been reported there. It’s a close cousin to our Great-crested Flycatcher.
Soon after getting underway, we came upon a Northern Pintail Duck that was hanging out with some Ring-necks. I don’t recall seeing a Pintail there before. There was an American Widgeon, also.
We saw a few Northern Harriers, but the stars of the day were the Ospreys. They were numerous and hunting hard. We had several interesting observations of them. Here are a couple. Not long after leaving those uncommon ducks, we encountered an Osprey on top of a utility pole. It was eating a fish. A Boat-tailed Grackle waited patiently at the bottom of the pole. A good-sized chunk of fish dropped to the ground. It was grabbed immediately by the grackle. Later on, an Osprey hit the water hard but came up empty. As it flew low and toward us, it shook the water off its body even as it continued its wingbeats.
Usually, later in the Drive, we get Fulvous Whistling Ducks. They were not in evidence on this day. But Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were many. Three flocks resting on a grassy dike totaled, maybe, 200 individuals.
Late in the drive, after seeing hundreds of Common Gallinules, we found one lone Purple Gallinule. It was a beauty.