Tag Archives: bird

In the Back Garden…

Lynn’s been busy in our back garden and suddenly it’s even more photogenic.  Lots of new plantings / flowers and they’ve attracted some interesting visitors. I’ve been keeping a camera at the ready so I can go out quickly and see what’s happening.

The Bird of Paradise plants are a new treat.  They’re blooming and I couldn’t resist making some photos.

Bird of Paradise (partial)Bird of Paradise (partial)

This blue bit is the stamen – I like this composition more than one I made of the entire flower.  I left a small piece of the rest of the bloom in the bottom left of the frame for context.

Bees and Butterflies seem as happy with the new garden as I am.

Bumblebee in flight (BIF)Bumblebee in flight (BIF)  (Olympus E-M1 II Pro Capture mode)

Gulf Fritillary butterflyGulf Fritillary butterfly

I briefly spotted some Ruby-throated Hummingbirds too.  But in my excitement to let Lynn know, I let go of the screen door too quickly and the noise was enough to drive them off.  I’ll be more careful next time and hopefully get some photos of them as well.

I’m very lucky that Lynn has set up such nice photo ops for me!  I can’t wait to see what else she arranges in front of my lens.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Viera Wetlands – 1/13/16

Kevin M. offered to help me scout for the Smooth-billed Ani that’s been seen at Viera Wetlands.  I’ve wanted to get over there – so I readily agreed to meet him Friday Morning.

It was the first Friday the 13th of the new year, but our luck wasn’t completely bad.  The day started early with some challenging light and fog at sunrise.  I’m glad I brought my IR modified camera and used it to cut through the limited visibility.  I did get one or two pleasing photos, including this one.  But it’s a B&W sunrise! What’s up with that?

The boardwalk by the boat ramp in the fog The boardwalk by the boat ramp in the fog – at SR 520 and the St. Johns River

Kevin led us right to the Smooth-billed Ani (thanks Kevin!).  The light was still poor and we ended up coming back later for a better look / image.  These aren’t normally found this far north in Florida and they’re unusual looking with a very large beak – fun to see.  People have also reported a close relative (Groove-billed Ani) on Apopka Wildlife Drive.

Smooth-billed AniSmooth-billed Ani

We saw Scaups, Mottled Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Limpkins, White Pelicans, a Wilsons Snipe, a Great Horned Owl, Coots, Moorehens, Roseate Spoonbills, and Osprey among other things.

Hooded Merganser pairHooded Merganser pair

Mom and juvenile Limpkin about to enjoy escargotMom and juvenile Limpkin about to enjoy escargot

The light was spotty all morning with periods of rain.  There were a couple of images I tried  that didn’t work out.  I’m going back soon to try again.  NOTE:  Their website says that Viera Wetlands is closed January 16 – 20.  Plan accordingly.

Based on this post and my previous one, I think you can see that the bird activity has picked up here in Central Florida.  It’s time to get out and enjoy our natural wonders.

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Flowers and Flyers

I hope you don’t mind a few more photos from Virginia.  The wildflowers and butterflies were beautiful, and the birds varied from what we normally see in Central Florida.

Wildflower Chicory bud wildflower. Thanks Charlotte Norton for identifying this for me!

There were butterflies everywhere, probably because wildflowers were everywhere.  We had a marvelous little meadow under the balcony behind our room.  It was fun and relaxing to sit there and watch all the activity.

SwallowtailSwallowtail

Bees and birds were busy too.

Wildflower and BeeWildflower and Bee B&W

We stood in line for the dining room at the lodge one night and the woman in front of us was carrying a large DSLR camera and lens.  She lived close by and had come up to photograph butterflies in Big Meadows.  I said we were enjoying them too, and then we started talking about birds.  I was all excited about the Indigo Buntings and American Goldfinches we’d sighted, since we don’t often see them in Florida.  She didn’t seem to care about such common birds – and was much more interested in getting to Florida to see some Spoonbills.  To each their own!

Eastern TowheeEastern Towhee (life bird!) – Thanks Kevin McKinney for the bird ID help!

And one more image to wrap up.  I made all the photos in this post with a micro four-thirds camera and 100 – 400 mm lens (200 – 800 mm equivalent).  I found it very useful for close up photography and even though I had a macro lens with me, I never used it.

Wildflower 3Wildflower 3

You can see larger versions of the photos above by clicking on them and more photos from Shenandoah in this album on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Lake Apopka wildlife Drive

My friend Tom M. wanted to go out shooting last week and hadn’t ever been to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive. The drive itself is only open to cars from Friday through Sunday, so we met on Friday morning and went over.  It was raining when I got up and still cloudy on the way over, which made for interesting skies in my infrared photos.

Lake Apopka Pump HouseLake Apopka Pump House – 2 frame panorama, infrared, black and white.

We did have a bit of good light while we were there.  We saw this bird struggling to swallow a fish and stopped to watch for a few minutes.  It was on the side of a canal with the clouds reflecting in the water behind it and flowers blooming in front.  I stayed in the car so I wouldn’t bother it and shot a series of single frames while we watched.  This one was the best one of the series.

Nice catch! Nice catch! – an Anhiga tosses a fish it caught along a canal on the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive.

On this trip, I brought my micro four thirds cameras.  I’ve used the system for about four years and they’ve worked very well.  The dynamic range and noise performance are not as good as larger sensor cameras, but it’s “good enough”.  And the noise is not an issue for me.  DxO Optics Pro does an outstanding job processing the RAW files.  The focusing capabilities have been fast for static subjects – but I’ve never been able to do very well with continuous focus.  Well, I recently traded up to a used Olympus E-M1, which has phase detect sensors built into the image sensor and it’s been doing a great job with continuous focus. So much so that even for birds in flight it’s working “good enough” too.  Here’s an example from Friday:

Checking me outChecking me out – A hawk in flight looking at the camera

You can view other photos I’ve made with the micro four thirds system in this album on Flickr.

Lake Apopka is an awesome place, I’ll definitely go back.  I’m collecting photos from there in this folder on Flickr, and you can also read an earlier article I wrote about it here on the blog.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, 15 March 2014

I had cataract surgery last Thursday and didn’t think I’d be able to go photographing this weekend. But I could see remarkably well this morning, so I rode over to MINWR with Kevin M. and Kevin K.

It turned out to be a lovely day. There was more color in the sunrise than I expected, and after dawn we found some photogenic fog / mist.

White Pelicans in the mist
White Pelicans in the mist on Blackpoint Wildlife Drive

In addition to the White Pelicans, watching a skimming Black Skimmer was another highlight.  Kevin K. even managed to photograph it with a fish in its mouth.  The Visitors Center bird feeder was active too.  We saw Catbirds, several Painted Buntings (both male and female) and a White-throated Chipping Sparrow (a life bird for me!).

White Throated Sparrow

White Throated Chipping Sparrow

I enjoyed trying out my refurbished eyes today.  It’s amazing what modern medicine can do!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some photos!

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Universal set-up

Photography is challenging and wildlife especially may be difficult to photograph well. Poor light, bad weather, a distant animal far away or facing away from you, or in front of a busy or too bright background: These all make capturing beautiful wildlife images tough. Overcoming challenges like these makes photography a rewarding pursuit.

On the other hand, sometimes it’s not as challenging. It’s almost like the universe sets up a photo-op to make things easy for you.  Like it wants you to show how pretty the animal is.  And the wildlife cooperates too!  We came across one of these gifts yesterday at Viera Wetlands.

We were driving south along one of the berms and saw a small group of Black Skimmers land on the road in the distance. These aren’t rare birds in Florida, but I hadn’t seen them at Viera before (they’re more common at MINWR). They’re unusual enough to make me take notice and they’re a bit difficult to expose well because of their coloring (white and black with very dark eyes) so I’m always looking for better photos.

We got out of the car and slowly walked towards them and I noticed several things. The birds were up on the road, so we could approach from low on the side of the berm and get them at eye level with the sun behind us. The wind was coming from the same direction as the sun, so the birds were facing into it and toward us (they like to face into the wind so they can more easily take off).  The water behind the birds provided a nice clean background.  And as we crept closer, the birds stayed calm and didn’t seem to mind us at all. 

Black Skimmer

Black Skimmer (Settings:  1/1000, ƒ/9, ISO 400, 500 mm)

We got close, enjoyed watching them, and photographed for a while.  We had time to make sure all our settings were correct.  I carefully braced my camera and lowered the ISO to get the best quality image.  I checked my exposure /  histogram to make sure the bird’s eyes were visible (difficult on this species) and the white feathers weren’t blown out.  This went on for a bit until another car came down the road.  It stopped for a minute so I had time to adjust my settings to get ready for the birds to fly.  Then it drove on, and they flew up, circled around and landed back on the road in front of us and over some wild flowers.  A perfect flight shot opportunity!

Black Skimmer in flight
Black Skimmer in flight (Settings: 1/2500, ƒ/7.1, ISO 800, 290 mm)

Be on the lookout for situations like this.  They’re truly a gift and not as common as we’d like.  Be ready.  Know your camera’s capabilities and limitations. Think through your settings and double-check your results.  Make sure you take advantage of these opportunities – when the universe sets you up and the animals cooperate.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some photos!

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Two Merritt Island Moments

I got up early Thursday morning and checked the weather.  The maps (both Radar and IR clouds) were clear. This isn’t a strong sign for a good sunrise, but I was itching to photograph something and I was already packed, so I went on over to MINWR to check activity there. My first stop was East Gator Creek Road – one of my favorite sunrise locations.  The sky was mostly clear about 45 minutes before dawn and with plenty of stars out, it was beautiful.

The stars above
The stars above: Gator Creek Road in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, before dawn.

The bugs were bad and it was hot and humid too but I stayed for over an hour and enjoyed watching the sky change over time.  I only saw two other people:  Someone in a pickup truck looking for a spot to fish and a jogger.  Neither slowed down – I hope they appreciated the sky too.  In spite of the earlier weather map, clouds developed on the horizon and with no wind, the reflections were lovely.

Clouds and reflections at dawn
Clouds and reflections at dawn: Along on Gator Creek Road

After Gator Creek, I headed to Blackpoint Wildlife Drive but found it closed due to heavy rain.  I didn’t think to check this web page listing closures before I went.

Since I couldn’t explore Blackpoint, I stopped briefly at Bio Lab Road, Scrub Ridge Trail, and Haulover canal.  The Haulover canal bridge was still closed, although it was supposed to re-open on 9/13.  I watched two Manatees near the Bairs Cove Boat Ramp for a few minutes.  They seem to like this place – I think I’ve seen them every time I’ve been by.

eBird has a handy new Hotspot Explorer site that shows birding hotspots all over the world.  It lists species seen and how many were reported at each spot by month.  Here’s the specific page for MINWR. September is normally the slowest month and I didn’t see anything to contradict this when I was there.  Activity should ramp up beginning in October.

So … a pleasant trip.  I came back with two captured moments.  I wouldn’t have seen them if I hadn’t gone, and I couldn’t have shared them either.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!  And share them!

©2013, Ed Rosack.  All rights reserved