Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Photographing Birds in Florida: Lake Woodruff NWR

One of the best kept secrets in bird photography in central Florida is Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge. This site is accessible from DeLeon Springs, Florida just a few miles north of Deland, Florida on U.S. Route 17.

If you like to photograph from your car as I do, this site will at first seem disappointing. After following the signs for the refuge in DeLeon Springs, you will access a single road into the refuge you will reach a parking lot. As you walk from the parking lot into an open area you will find a display with a map of the facility. There are three waer impoundments at the site; each has elevated berms which allow you walk and look down into the water to the left and to the right. A walk around Impoundment 1 is a one-mile walk (the one I have used the most); a walk around Impoundment is about 2 miles long (I have walked this a couple of times) and around Impoundment 3 over three miles (I have never completed this path).

The wildlife encountered depends on the season and water levels. Almost always you will see
Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Black Vultures, Alligators, Common Moorhens, White Ibises and Snowy Egrets. I often see American Bitterns, Soras, Tricolor herons, Glossy Ibises and Little Blue Herons. I occasionally see Sand Hill Cranes, Limpkins, and Black-Necked Stilts. There used to be a pair of Whooping Cranes which migrated down for the winter from Wisconsin. I was told that one of the pair was killed in Wisconsin and the mate has not returned. I have also photographed butterflies and other insects while hiking the refuge.

Often while I am hiking along on the berms of Lake Woodruff that I enjoy that "lucky to be alive today" feeling and am thankful that I have the time and opportunity to photograph the wonders of nature. Enjoy!

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