biolab_road_merritt_island_1

Overlook Park

On the south shore of Lake Jesup in Seminole County is the wonderful little park called Overlook Park.  It is a small park, about 3 acres, but is great for fishing, watching birds and seeing alligators.    The address is 1988 Spring Avenue, Oviedo and the website https://www.seminolecountyfl.gov/locations/301555-Overlook-Park.stml

I live in Oviedo so I visit park fairly often, every time I go see something different.   I like to stop at Sonic and get a large milkshake to drink at the park and while this does nothing for the diet, I really enjoy it.   The park has a small parking lot, picnic tables and a boardwalk.  There are no bathrooms or playground.   Near the entrance of the park is a Seminole County Historic Marker – it gives some history of the area.

These photos are some of the park and boardwalk.  You can see SR 417 from the park and it is pretty after dark, I enjoy watching all the cars to buy with their lights.

 

 

I have seen quite a few different birds including black birds, egrets, anhinga, limpkin, red wing blackbird, vultures and osprey.  

These photographs are some of my best pictures of birds.

 

There is beautiful little limpkin family living at the park.  I have taken pictures of them over a period of a month and you can see how big the chicks are getting.

These pictures show the limpkin family, the chicks are so cute!

 

In addition to seeing birds, Overlook Park is a great place to see alligators, squirrels and some amazing sunsets.  I have gone out there six or seven times and I gotten some amazing shots. 

 

As I mentioned, this park is off of Lake Jesup and it is full of alligators.  People go fishing  off of the boardwalk which seem expected.  However there are some people who go in the water, with the alligators, to net fish.  I think they are crazy!  I have asked them and they don’t seem worried about the gators.   The are throwing nets that have weights on them to catch fish so maybe it scares the gators away.

This last set of photos are of these guys fishing in the water – did I mention I think they are crazy?

 

And remember: Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints!

biolab_road_merritt_island_1

Orlando Wetlands Park

The Orlando Wetlands Park is approximately 1,220 acres  man made water treatment system.   It removes nitrogen and phosphorus from reclaimed water and which then flows in the St. Johns River.   For more information about the Wetlands, its purpose and how the water management works check out the website at http://www.cityoforlando.net/wetlands/.   The park is located off of Wheeler Road in Christmas, Florida.  The address is 25155 Wheeler Road, Christmas, FL 32709.    The Orlando Wetlands Park is a great place to go birds watching or just enjoy see all the wildlife and enjoy beautiful scenery.     At the entrance you will find plenty of parking, an education center, clean bathrooms and a picnic table.    And it is FREE which is something else I love about the park!!

This first set of photographs are some of the pictures I took at the entrance.   We signed in to the Guestbook and made a donation.

 

I have been out there 4 or 5 times now and each time I see something new.  I have gone both walking and hiking but I still haven’t gone down all the paths, it is a pretty big park.  The trails are wide and made of packed sand which are great for biking.    They have free guided tour tram rides but I think the hours / days vary.  You need to see the website for current information.    The guides are very knowledgeable and friendly and this is a great way to see the park. 

The next set of photographs includes a map of the park and the first cell you’ll see on the Birding Loop.   I also have some photos of the tram.

 

The parks has alligators, lots and lots of alligators!  I know some photographers don’t like taking pictures of alligators, they complain the gators don’t do anything.  I enjoy seeing them whether they are sunning,swimming or whatever!  These next pictures are just are my best photos of these amazing reptiles.

 

In addition to the alligators I have seen variety of birds, butterflies and flowers.   The Orlando Wetlands Park Bird checklist says you can see over 150 different types of birds, I have only seen a small portion of them. 

This next set of photos shows some of the different birds I have shot.  Unfortunately I haven’t learned all the names of the birds yet but I am working on it.

 

Lastly, photos of some lovely flowers I have seen at the park.

 

And remember: Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints!

biolab_road_merritt_island_1

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is managed by the St. Johns River Water Management District. The drive is open from sunrise to sunset and is a 11 mile one way drive that begins at Lust Road and exits as Jones Road. It is open Friday, Saturday, Sunday and some holidays. Check the website at https://www.sjrwmd.com/lands/recreation/lake-apopka/wildlife-drive/ for more information. Parts of the drive had been closed during hurricane damage but it is still a great day. There is parking near the old pump house where they also have portable bathrooms.

A self guided audio tour with 11 points of interest follows along the drive. There are numbers posted along the drive the correspond with the audio tour. Access the audio tour at www.sjrwmd.com/LANS. A smartphone or some type of devise with internet is required.

This first set of photographs shows the map of the park, the entrance to the drive and the old pump house and parking.   The portable toilets are located here however there are no sinks.  I bring my own hand sanitizer and paper.

 

Park at the pump house and go hiking or biking along the Lake Apopka Loop Trail. The trail is approx. 15 miles long and goes to Magnolia Park. I have gone hiking out there several times but I still need to take my bike. I am really looking for to biking, I doubt I’ll make the full 15 miles but can I do 5 to 10.

This next set of photographs is of the Loop near the pump house, you can go either north towards McDonald Canal Boat Ramp or south to Magnolia Park.

 

The drive is approximately 11 miles but expect to be there 2 or 3 hours. Everyone drives very slow, about 5 or 10 miles per hour, so they can see the scenery and wildlife. Along the drive there are places to pull over so you can take photographs of the wildlife and beautiful scenery!  

As you can see from the photographs below, there is a lot to see on both sides of the drive. 

 

The LAWD website says there are over 360 species of birds but I have only seen a handful.  The birds move so fast, I find them hard to photograph. I have a Sony a6000 and my lens only goes up to 200 so I don’t get really good pictures of the little birds. However I have gotten some great pictures of larger birds, mostly great blue heron, egret, hawk, osprey and anhinga. I would love to get a picture of an eagle but I have yet to see one.

This next set of photographs show some of my best birds photos.

 

There is more that just birds to see such as otters, rabbits, bobcats, snakes, turtles, alligators, butterflies and flowers. So far I have only seen snakes, butterflies, alligators and rabbits.

The last set of photographs show some of the best shots I have gotten of alligators and  flowers.  

 

Overall, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive is a wonderful place to spend the day whether you are into photography or just looking for something to do. I would recommend bringing water and snacks if plan on making a day of it, it gets very hot out there.

And remember: Take nothing but pictures, kill nothing but time, leave nothing but footprints!