Reflecting on headwaters

re·flec·ting (verb):  1) to be reflected or mirrored; 2) to think, ponder, or meditate

head-wa-ters (noun): the upper tributaries of a river.

Shingle Creek
Clouds and Cypress Reflect from Shingle Creek – It’s hard to believe this urban creek just south of Orlando is the northernmost headwaters of the Everglades

If you look out the window as you fly over Florida, you’ll see much of the land is undeveloped.  As you near Orlando though, you’ll see a great deal of housing, roads, city buildings, and theme parks.  Central Florida can be a very urban place – it’s encouraging that even in the midst of all the development, there are a great many areas where you can experience nature, wildlife, and beautiful landscapes.  Many places I visit are fairly well-known.  But I had never heard of Shingle Creek before reading Wild Florida Waters, by Doug Alderson – a book about exploring Florida via kayak and canoe.

Driving through Kissimmee, Florida in the middle of airports, fast food, shopping malls, housing developments, and theme parks, you might not even notice  this waterway – but you really should look for it.  The first pioneer settlement in the Central Florida area was along this creek.  Settlers cut down old growth cypress to use for shingles, hence the name.  Shingle Creek is also generally considered to be the northernmost headwaters of the Everglades.  The creek begins in a swamp very close to I-Drive where thousands of tourists visit the convention center and theme parks and go shopping every day.  It flows into Lake Toho in Kissimmee, then into the Kissimmee River system and on through south Florida to the Everglades.

I see different numbers for the size of Shingle Creek Regional Park.  One source says that it’s about 456 acres, another says that over 1000 acres have been purchased.  Either way, it’s large and the landscapes are beautiful.  There are trails to hike and bike and if you have a canoe or kayak you can venture into some very thick cypress swamps south of the Steffee Landing park entrance.  You can see alligators, otters, water moccasins, ospreys, hawks, woodpeckers, limpkins, herons, egrets, and even bald eagles.  It’s truly a wonderful oasis in the middle of urban Central Florida.  I’m grateful we’re preserving it and I’m going back soon to explore more of it.

Apple snail eggs

Apple snail eggs – These snails deposit their eggs just above the water line. Seeing them is a good sign of healthy water. The snails feed on an algae that grows on eel grass which helps filter and clean the water. Eel grass doesn’t grow well in cloudy polluted waters, so you won’t find Apple snails there. You won’t find Limpkins or Snail Kites there either because Apple Snails are a main part of their diet.

Reflecting on headwaters

More reflections –  Shingle Creek south of Steffee Landing

You can enter the park from two locations.  Use these addresses to search for it in Google Maps (just searching for “Shingle Creek Park” didn’t work too well for me):  4266 W. Vine Street, Kissimmee, FL 34741 -or- 2491 Babb Road, Kissimmee, FL 34746

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now, step away from the pavement and go make some photos

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

About Ed Rosack

I live in Central Florida and enjoy exploring the area. I'm interested in nature and wildlife photography - and many other things. I'm the chief reporter, lead writer, managing editor, main photographer, and publisher of the Central Florida Photo Ops website hosted at www.edrosack.com. You can also see more of my photos on my Flickr stream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/

4 thoughts on “Reflecting on headwaters

  1. Good to hear about Shingle Creek and the neighbouring parkland – a great conservation story, and clearly a boon to local wildlife. Also makes super pictures!

  2. Hi Ed,
    Thanks for the insight about this hidden treasure. The info about how Shingle Creek got its name was a fascinating tidbit I wasn’t aware of. Also, that first photo (“Clouds and Cypress Reflect…”) was particularly impressive. I’m guessing you took a long exposure to give the water that ‘silky’ look?
    Keep up the good work!

    1. Hi Jeff,

      Thanks for your comment. Here’s what happened with this photo: With my camera on a tripod, I make a normal exposure without the neutral density filter. I make sure autofocus is turned off and put the ND filter on. I know that if my exposure without the ND is 1/15 second, then I need 30 seconds with the ND on. This time, when I looked at the 30 second exposure, the water looked really good to me, but the clouds were a bit blown out. So I made a third image to bring the cloud brightness down. In post processing, I blended the 30 and 15 second exposures. Since the wind was blowing pretty hard that day, I had to use my 1/15 second image to reduce the motion blur in the trees / Spanish Moss. After I got the blending right, I tweaked to taste.

      It was a little more complicated than normal.

      Ed

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