“Don’t take life too seriously. You’ll never get out alive.” ~ either Elbert Hubbard or Bugs Bunny…depends which source you find.
Sooper suspishus heron is suspishus
Couldn’t help myself and had to doodle a couple Great Blue Herons giving a stink eye. It seemed as if the trip to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive was something like a living comic book. This wildlife drive is located in northwest Orlando, on the north shore of (you guessed it) Lake Apopka. It’s only open on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday but is definitely worth visiting this 20,009 acre wetland preserve. The main loop is accessible by car and offers an 11 mile drivable, single lane, 10 mph speed limit, dirt road drive, through the preserve. There are various hiking trails and biking paths as well.
The entrance to the drive starts with a gate and sign which resemble something out of the first Jurassic Park movie. There’s an accompanying audio tour which can be accessed on your phone’s web browser (the web link is listed at the preserve). As soon as the first stop was reached, a sacrificial goat was offered into the T-Rex exhib…okay, there was no goat. But there were a large number of American Alligators throughout the water, probably amplified by the fact that May-June is their mating season. Needless to say, there were gators all over the place.
Look closely as you drive by and you’ll see gator eyes poking out. Pun intended.
After a few miles, the pump house and a small parking lot are reached. On one end of the pump house is Lake Apopka, and on the other end is the start of the wetlands (pictured below). More information is provided on the drive, by both the audio tour and frequent maps posted around the park.
Let’s play a game and see if you can spot the gator in the picture above. Wait for it…..
BAM! There he/she is. In all seriousness, being in such close proximity to these large alligators during mating season is no joke and feeding them is an incredibly bad idea. Fortunately my camera lens helped with safe photography from afar. With that said, nearly all of the animals that were out wore cartoonish expressions. Getting back to my original quote at the start of this and the photograph that helped with the first doodle…
…were two Great Blue Heron engaging in some sort of territoriality ritual. One would hope these animals would be observed with respect and courtesy to their natural habitat. But also not forgetting to have a little fun and look closer at the world that’s around us. Seriously respecting the gators, but not being afraid to learn about them. Taking in the plethora of wild birds in this preserve and just watching them…
…or watching them watch us. Like this native florida ostrich. It’s not. It’s another Heron.
Or this magnificent Anhinga (above) with a little extra derp (noodle neck demon fish bird.)
Same bird, same derp, form: 10/10. Really pretty awesome to learn about them though. For example did you know they are nicknamed “water turkey’s” and don’t have waterproof feathers which allow them to remain less buoyant in the water, which helps when feeding for fish?!
Wait, what?! Gators.
Remember, don’t feel the alligators. The sign, common sense, and animal behavior all say so.
In closing, what other animals might you see here? Florida Softshell Turtle (above), 362 species of birds, Gopher Tortoise, river otters, bobcats and coyotes.
*whispers* And more gators….err…beautiful grasses and foliage.
Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive
2803 Lust Rd, Apopka, FL 32703
Entrance is free