A short turn off of Jones Ave in Apopka, a road more known for its pungent fertilizer fields than birds, there’s a small swampy oasis for ducks and herons. I hadn’t been there since this summer, when it was mostly Black-bellied Whistling Ducks and their chicks, but I stopped by last night and wasn’t disappointed.
When I arrived just before sundown, the aforementioned ducks were flocking noisely overhead, wheeling in large circles before finally landing for the night. Blue Herons, a Great Egret, Anhingas, a pair of Belted Kingfisher, and a Red-bellied Woodpecker watched the water from bare snags by the road. A juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron watched me with a red eye, and an adult surprised me just across the lake.
A small flock of White and Glossy Ibis perched just around the first turn, and I surprised a few Wilson’s Snipe and Least Sandpiper from the brush. A couple of Palm Warblers chipped from the flowering trees, while Snowy Egrets hid with Little Blue Herons in the reedy swamp. There were some Red-winged Blackbirds here earlier in the year, but I didn’t find any last night.
There were three Wood Storks hunting in the muck with another Great Blue Heron in the back-most pond, while a Florida staple – a juvenile Red-shouldered Hawk – watched from the old telephone pole near the access road. As I was walking back to the car, I spotted a Long-billed Dowicher, and an Eastern Phoebe twittering from the telephone line.
Back at the car, an Osprey had taken over the snag from the Anhinga, and the female Kingfisher chirruped in the dying light.