Tag Archives: Burrowing Owl

July’s for the birds…

Kevin M. and I knowingly and by chance violated many photography thumb rules yesterday morning.  My first example:

Sunrise over the pastureSunrise over the pasture

As landscape photos go, it breaks rules:   It’s not all in focus;  I didn’t use a low ISO to minimize noise;  I used a long lens (so I could keep power lines out of the frame), not a wide-angle ; And I didn’t use a tripod.  But I like how it turned out.  I’m pleased by the composition and colors.  It also has a bit of mystery with the fog, and the cows that are a bit hidden.  Florida does look like this.

Next up are some bird photos.  In Florida, July is one of the hottest months.  Most photographers know this and many choose to stay inside – because the birds know this too and many of them also seem to disappear when it’s this hot.  So what did we do?  We went  out looking for birds.

When we were photographing sunrise, we heard Bobwhites calling and spotted this one on the fence by the pasture.  It was very patient and waited with us for better light.  But I still had to violate one of my thumb rules and shoot at ISO 3200 to get a decent photo.  By the way, let me just say again that technology today is wonderful.  This image was at a focal length of 600mm, with a shutter speed of 1/50 second, hand-held!

Northern BobwhiteNorthern Bobwhite

The Burrowing Owl was a little way down on the same fence line.  By this time the light was somewhat better and I could shoot at ISO 1600 and 1/100 sec.  Still pretty impressive stabilization and sensor performance.

Burrowing OwlBurrowing Owl

Those three photos were at our first stop!  Kevin wanted to show me some  Red-cockaded Woodpeckers he’d spotted at the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area.  I’ve been there before looking for them and this time we think we heard some, but didn’t manage to see or photograph any.

We did spot some other not so common birds including Brown-headed Nuthatches, Common Ground Doves, and Eastern Meadowlarks.

On the way back, we went by a farm where one of Florida’s Whooping Cranes hangs out.  I’ve been there several times looking for it without success.  Until this time:

Whooping Crane and two Sandhill CranesWhooping Crane and two Sandhill Cranes

This is more of a record shot than a great photo.   The light is harsh and the birds are beyond the range limit for this lens so it’s cropped in.  And the July heat was making waves too, harming the image quality.   But I still like it.  Thumb rules?  Who needs stinking’ thumb rules!

Until the 1930s, Whooping Cranes occurred naturally in Florida (see this article on the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation site).  There have been efforts to re-introduce them by leading them with ultra-light planes on migration routes  (see this site).  In January 2016, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced they’d “stop supporting the use of ultralight aircraft to help young whooping cranes migrate from Wisconsin to Florida each fall“.  Studies show that interacting with humans has a negative effect on the birds.  I’m pretty sure this particular Whooping Crane is a survivor of the program.  It’s banded yellow over green on its left leg, but a short google search didn’t turn up any info.

So rules of thumb are good – especially if you understand them and know when to break them.  Breaking the rules led me to a sunrise photo I like and four life-birds yesterday (thanks Kevin!).  By the way, you can click on any of these for larger versions on Flickr.

And thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

P.S.  Stay tuned for some photo stories from Utah.  MK and I had an epic weekend out there and I’ll share it when I finish processing the images.

Lake Louisa Follow up – 5 Mile Road

When I wrote about Lake Louisa State Park a couple of weeks ago, I didn’t know about 5 Mile Road.  It’s just  across US 27 from the Park. When I did hear about it, I drove back over to take a look.

It’s a dirt road, and although a bit narrow it’s well maintained.  I didn’t have any problems with my car.  There are some interesting landscape views:

Views from 5 Mile Road #2
Views from 5 Mile Road #2

And some interesting wildlife views too:

Guarding the burrow
Guarding the burrow

I made these photos on May 21st.  One of my Flickr friends told me he visited the Burrowing Owl nest on the 26th and it looked abandoned.  That’s sad.  I’m not sure what happened.  Maybe the chicks fledged and flew off.  That’s what I want to believe anyway.

If you visit Lake Louisa, 5 Mile Road is worth checking out too.  You can find more photos from there in in this set on Flickr.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

South Florida, the Everglades and the Florida Keys

First, an apology:  It appears that a couple of the species names for birds we observed in the Dry Tortugas triggered some people’s spam filters.  So if you’re an email subscriber and didn’t get the email with the Dry Tortugas post, please check your spam folder or click here to open it in your browser.  Sorry about that.  Although there’s not much I can do about it.  And it is funny.

Second:  Happy anniversary, blog!  The first Central Florida Photo Ops post went up on May 7th, 2007 – 6 years and 270 posts ago.  Thanks once again for  all your encouragement.  I enjoy writing the blog, but I don’t think it would have lasted this long if not for the occasional comments and questions from readers.  Please keep them coming!

Third: Here’s some info on the rest of our South Florida trip.  The Dry Tortugas were the focus of our expedition, but we also visited Blowing Rocks Preserve, Bill Baggs Cape Florida State Park, Key Largo, Everglades National ParkJohn Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, and Brian Piccolo Park.  Since these were such short visits, I can’t really provide detailed reviews of each.  Instead, I’ll show sample images to give you some background and an idea of  what you can see in each place.

I’ve heard that Blowing Rocks Preserve in Jupiter Florida is an awesome landscape place under the right conditions.  The morning we were there, the light was harsh and the  weather wasn’t ideal to show off the rocks.  I think studying the tides and winds (and some luck) are required to make the most of a visit to this place.  Here’s one photo I came up with.

Blowing Rocks Preserve
Blowing Rocks Preserve – Sand steps, Three sets, Two close, No return? 

We stopped at Bill Baggs to look for a couple of birds that had been spotted there.  We didn’t have much luck with the rare birds, although I enjoyed seeing the light house and this awesome lizard.

Cuban Knight Anole
This Cuban Knight Anole was over a foot long, much larger than the anoles we see in Central Florida

We spent a day driving through the Everglades, stopping at each area along the main park road and side roads.  It was very overcast, and I found it tough to compose landscapes.  I’m sure there are some great spots that people more familiar with the area know about.  I guess I need to go back and find them.

Brewing storm
Brewing storm, Everglades National Park  – A pine tree and grass reflect on the inches deep Everglades “river of grass”

We made it all the way to the end of the road in Flamingo.  I was very excited to see a couple of American Crocodiles in the marina there.  Only about 2000 of these remain in the wild.  They look different and somehow even more menacing than the alligators we’re used to seeing in Central Florida.

American Crocodile
American Crocodile

We had tentative plans to find some night-time / star trail photography dark sites in the Everglades, but with the long days and cloudy weather, we never got to it (another reason to go back).  While in the Everglades we saw Purple Martins (rooming with House Sparrows), Shinny cowbirds, Brown Cowbirds, Spotted Sandpipers, Red Headed Woodpeckers, Swallow Tail Kites, Red Shouldered Hawks, an Anhinga rookery, Black Vultures (that were eating rubber off of cars!), the American crocodiles, and of course Alligators, Turtles and many other common birds.

The place we were staying in Key Largo had a private beach and boat ramp, and we spent one sunset there.  It was pretty – the rocks in the foreground look like a Japanese garden.  So much so that I wonder if someone arranged them.

Gulf view from Key Largo at sunset
Gulf view from Key Largo at sunset

On our way home, we stopped at Brian Piccolo Park to see the Burrowing Owls.  They were easy to find in their marked nests and fun to watch.  We also saw a few Monk Parakeets there.

Burrowing Owl guarding nest
Brian Piccolo Park:  Burrowing Owl guarding nest

Other wildlife seen on the trip included Loggerhead Shrikes, Ground Doves, Eurasian Collard Doves, White Headed Pigeons, a Great White Heron, Cardinals, a Northern Curly Tailed Lizard, and Iguanas.

It was a fun but exhausting trip!  For more photos, please look at this set on Flickr.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.