11 bird folks arrived at 8:00 AM on the morning of January 8th at the entrance to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. A good deal of time was spent at the entrance because of a large number of species there that were unlikely to be found out in the wetland. In addition to many common ones, there was reported to be the Ash Throated Flycatcher, which still winters at that spot, and a recently spotted Least Flycatcher. Unfortunately, we could not find either. The most unusual bird spotted there was a Song Sparrow.
One highlight of the drive was coming across a Great Blue Heron that was struggling to down a large catfish it had caught. If finally did. Barely two minutes later, it resumed hunting and immediately caught a foot long largemouth bass. It wolfed down the bass. An amazing feat, especially considering that it was 10:30AM. Surely, this bird had also eaten a few critters before that.
Toward the end of the outing, Rey Wells was at the end of the caravan and got stopped by the sound of a commotion taking place in the canal below the right side of his car. He got out, peeked out from behind the car and witnessed two male Boat-tailed Grackles fighting in the water. The battle raged in the water for a full minute. It included beak locking, spearing, and kicking. As Rey was clicking away on slow burst, he came to realize that his exposure setting was way too low. So, he ducked back behind the car and quickly jacked up the exposure setting. He then shot the rest of the battle. One of the second set of photos is included here.
It was a shame that Ken Spilios’ camera became inoperative right at the beginning. So, he concentrated solely on leading and spotting. Here are the ducks spotted: Ringed-neck, Black-bellied Whistling, Fulvous Whistling, Blue-winged Teal, Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Mottled, and Ruddy. It was a great day for ducks!
In all, sixty-two bird species were identified. It was a great outing.