Tag Archives: Eagle

Casual Birding in New Mexico

The birds we saw in New Mexico varied from what we’re used to in Florida (of course).  I saw 12 life birds while we were there.  And this was really with just casual birding. I’m sure my more serious birding friends (thinking of you Kevin M.) would have found many more!

NM birds: Gambel’s QuailGambel’s Quail – Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

MK wanted to visit White Sands National Monument.  I did too, but I’d heard a lot about the Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge so we agreed to get up early and stop by there on the way.  I was really glad we did!

NM birds: Black-chinned Hummingbirds and Broad-tailed HummingbirdBlack-chinned Hummingbirds and Broad-tailed Hummingbird (on the left) – Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

The volunteers at the Visitors Center were very helpful and pointed out where to look for the Golden Eagle.  We would have missed it without their help.  At first glance, I mistook it for a vulture!  They also apologized since there were no Sand Hill Cranes (they migrate through in the winter).  I assured them that we see plenty in Florida.  Hopefully I can go back when it’s cold.  Seeing huge flocks of cranes would be an experience!

NM birds: Golden EagleGolden Eagle – Bosque del Apache National Wildlife Refuge

MK was an excellent spotter.  We found the Caissin’s Kingbird when she stopped to look at a road side field on the way home from White Sands.  She also found the Yellow Warbler at the top of Sandia Peak – thanks MK!

NM birds: Caissin's KingbirdCaissin’s Kingbird – Carrizozo, NM

I’ve called myself a “beginning” birder for too long.  Maybe it’s time to change this to “casual” birder.  I like birding and enjoy finding / seeing new birds and figuring out what they are.  But I mostly enjoy the photography and get a bit disappointed if my images are poor.  So, from me to you, here are my…

Birding hints from a casual birder:

  • Take advantage of travel.  New locations can be an easy way to add to your life list.
  • Consider going even if it’s a slow time of year.  Bosque is well-known for its Festival of the Cranes in November.  But we found lots to see even in the middle of summer.
  • Research the local hot spots and add some to your itinerary.  Find and check local sightings or species lists so you’ll know what to look for.  I read through this wildlife list on the Bosque web site before we went (PDF).  It lists bird species by month observed and was a big help.
  • Try to look at the right times of day when birds are more active.  We saw the Yellow Warbler near dusk on Sandia peak, and had good luck at Bosque early in the morning.  I strongly doubt we’d have seen as much in mid-afternoon.
  • Stop by the Visitors Center and talk to other birders there.  The volunteers at Bosque were very helpful.
  • Don’t let birds you’re familiar with fool you.  I might have missed the Golden Eagle and the Neotropical Cormorants if I hadn’t been looking for them.  They look similar to other birds I’m familiar with in Florida.
  • A second set of eyes is very helpful.  With two of us looking, MK and I saw more than we would have by ourselves.
  • Birding friends are helpful too.  I probably could have figured out what all the life birds were on my own, but it was faster with Kevin helping.  And having a second opinion is good too.
  • Photograph everything you see and confirm later.  I wasn’t sure about the Golden Eagle until I enlarged the image on the back of my camera.
  • If you think you might be birding, bring your long lens.  I didn’t and regret that.  Thinking back on it, I should have left my ultra-wide at home and taken my longest lens instead.  You can always stitch multi-frame panoramas to get a wider field of view.  But you can’t get a longer focal length in post processing without losing quality.

I never expected to see so much – it was a great trip!  Here’s what we saw:

Life birds:  Golden Eagle, Gambel’s Quail, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Broad-billed Hummingbird, Ring-necked Pheasant, Neotropic Cormorants, Swainson’s Hawk, Cassin’s Kingbird, Say’s Phoebe, Black Phoebe, House Finch, Yellow Warbler

Other birds: Blue Grosbeaks (M & F), Crows, Common Ravens, Brown-headed Cowbirds, House Sparrows, Mockingbirds, Red-winged Blackbirds, Road Runner, Barn, Tree, and Cliff Swallows, Wild Turkeys, Canada Geese, Blue Wing Teals, American Coot, Pied-billed Grebe, Great Blue Herons, Turkey Vulture, Mourning Dove, Robin, Grackles, …

Other wildlife: Prairie Dogs, Snakes (no ID, although one roadkill might have been a Rattlesnake), Deer, Rabbit

You can see more of my New Mexico images here:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157685850604925

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Wildlife Tails: Seward, Alaska

Editors note:  Today we have another post from our roving correspondent MaryKate.  Her report includes some excellent wildlife watching tips and photographs. Enjoy!

In April, I escaped the Florida heat and visited my friends Monette and Jesse in their new home of Seward, Alaska.  This was my third Alaskan adventure with Monette, and while we stayed in one place for the duration of the trip (a rarity for our travels!), I enjoyed the beautiful vast views and wildlife that Seward, Alaska has to offer.

Alaska MoonriseAlaska Moonrise

While in Seward, Monette, Jesse and I went whale watching.  This was my second trip with Kenai Fjords and I’d highly recommend them.  Their boats are comfortable, there’s plenty of room for running around to view wildlife, the crew is very knowledgeable, they serve great snacks and refreshments (wine!), and they had awesome limited-edition Grey Whale Tour 2017 T-Shirts.

Humpback WhaleHumpback Whale

We were lucky enough to see Dall’s Porpoise, Sea Lions, Sea Otters, a Humpback Whale, and the first Gray Whales of the season returning to Seward!  Pacific Gray Whales migrate all the way up from Baja to Alaska every Spring, the longest migration of any mammal – quite remarkable!  You can tell Gray Whales and Humpback Whales apart based on their blow.  While Humpback Whales have a tall blow, Gray Whales have a shorter, thicker heart-shaped blow due to their double blow hole.

Gray Whale

Gray Whale Blow (short and puffy/heart-shaped)

Keep your eyes open when whale watching – constantly scan the horizon back and forth to look for blows.  You don’t want to miss any of these amazing creatures, and it’s really exciting being the first to spot them (as Jesse often does!).

Gray Whale

First Gray Whales of the season!

Once back on shore, we saw some other wildlife friends too, like this Sea Otter – who was anything but shy and really hammed it up for the “otterazzi” of cameras!
Sea Otter

Synchronized Swimmer

And there’s plenty of wildlife on the side of the road.  Like this Bald Eagle couple…Bald Eagle Couple

Bald Eagle Couple

Or this grazing moose…Moose

AlMOOSEt done with this blog post

Finally, I recommend swinging by the Alaska Wildlife Conservation Center in nearby Girdwood, Alaska – this group is “dedicated to preserving Alaska’s wildlife through conservation, education, and quality animal care” and you can see many residents up close.  The Center takes in orphans and lost babies – this resident Black Bear is Kuma (or Uli?), and is unable to return to the wild:Bear Necessities

Bear Necessities

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

©2017, MK Rosack and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Osceola Wander

Kevin M. organized a Photography Interest Group expedition yesterday.   I went along with  Kevin K., and Frank B.  The four of us were up extremely early to beat the sun to this pasture in Osceola County along Canoe Creek Road.

The sky was kind of plain when we arrived, except for the very thin moon rising ahead of the sun, and the ground fog over the grass in the distance.

Sliver moon and mistSliver moon and mist

After photographing there we moved on to Joe Overstreet Road and then Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area to see what we could see.

There’s a photography joke:

Q: Why did the bird cross the road?

A: To get to the bad light.

I don’t know about you, but this often happens to me when I’m trying to make photos of birds.  And if they don’t hurry into the bad light, then they usually turn away from the camera.  The backs of birds are not as photogenic as the front.  Yesterday the birds were a little slow and we managed to catch some of them in very good light and not facing away!

Into the lightInto the light

I wish I hadn’t been framed so close on this Bald Eagle.  I would have loved to catch it in full flight.  They’re seen down there often, so I’ll have to try again.

The meadows along the roads were full of Eastern Meadowlarks.  And when we couldn’t see them we could definitely hear them.

Morning songMorning song

There were signs posted at the Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area with results from recent hunts. And the deer we saw were definitely very wary. These two stared at us for a while before running off into the trees.

Two wary deerTwo wary deer

All in all, it was a good day for photography.  And the banter in the car was quite entertaining too.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Very good, but a bit sad – revisiting The Audubon Center for Birds of Prey

I hadn’t been by the  Audubon Center for Birds of Prey in Maitland, Florida in a long time.  So when Tom M. mentioned he wanted to go, I was happy to meet him and Keith H. there one morning last week.

Irked Eagle
Irked Eagle – This is Frederick, one of the permanent residents. A staff member brought him out for us.  In this photo, he’s yelling at a different staff member that walked by. Maybe he was expecting a handout?

Birds of Prey is a wonderful place but leaves me with mixed emotions.  On the good side, there are many more Raptors now than there used to be. The estimated population of Bald Eagles in Florida has grown from 88 active nests in 1973 to  1,457 nests now.  But on the sad side, there are also many more people and automobiles.  This leads to increased encounters between people, their cars, and birds – and sadly, means that many more birds are getting injured today.

Swallow-tailed Kite
Swallow-tailed Kite

Wonderful places like Birds of Prey take in injured raptors, treat them, and (if they’re well enough) release them back into the wild.  They’re able to release just over 40% of their raptor patients.  But it’s sad that some birds are too injured to be released.

Great Horned Owl
This Great Horned Owl looks a bit sleepy.  It must be a night owl.

The injured birds are well cared for. Some are placed in zoos or other facilities that are knowledgable and able to provide for them.  Others stay at Birds of Prey.  They make exceptional  ambassadors and help teach people about these awesome creatures.  All three raptors pictured in this post are permanent residents at the center.  It’s great that they’re such good photo subjects.  But it’s sad that they’ll never make it back into the wild.

There’s another place like this in Apopka, Florida – The Avian Reconditioning Center.  I haven’t been there yet, but I’m sure they’re just as dedicated to helping injured birds.  And I’m sure there are places like this all over.  You’ll be sad if you never visit one.  In addition to the photo-op, your entrance fees help pay for care for the injured birds.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go visit a bird rehab facility.  And make some photos too!
©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Maitland, Florida

Intro / Description

Maitland is a particularly photogenic city in the greater Orlando metro area.  I’ve found several locations there with good photo ops – my most recent visit was to the Maitland Art Center with Keith H.

Way out
Way out: A gate in the wall at the Maitland Art Center (Infrared, Black and White)

The Maitland Art Center used to be known as The Research Studio and is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places.  It’s one of the few examples in our area of Mayan Revival architecture, which can make for some intriguing  details to photograph.  The grounds are a popular place for weddings.  You may run into one on weekends that will keep you out of one or more of the venues.

Mayan Revival carved door
Mayan Revival carved door – I wonder if this is where Indiana Jones keeps his stuff?

Other museums in this location in addition to the Art Center are: the Telephone Museum; the William H. Waterhouse House Museum; and the Carpentry Shop Museum.  If you’re visiting, check the websites linked here – the hours and fees vary.

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:

My approach was to wander and photograph whatever caught my eye.  I found the Art and History Museum  productive for IR / B&W photography.

Tripod/Monopod:  Allowed and helpful.

Lenses:  You’ll probably use wide and normal lenses the most.  I didn’t feel any need for a telephoto lens.  A polarizing filter might be helpful to block reflections in glass.

They're all in the garden at the party
They’re all in the garden at the party

Best time to visit:  Year round, early or late in the day for the best light.  Avoid weekends if possible so you don’t run into any weddings.

Other:

There are some other photo ops close by.  I’ve written before about the Audubon Birds of Prey center – a great place to get close portraits of some very impressive birds.

Recovering eagle, Audubon Birds of Prey center, Maitland, Fl
Recovering eagle, Audubon Birds of Prey center

And the park at Lake Lilly is also photogenic.  Try some sunrise or sunset photos there, or walk through the farmers market on Saturdays for some local interest / people photos.  Be careful the ducks don’t peck on your lens!

Wide angle, backlit, ducklings
Wide angle, backlit, ducklings at Lake Lilly – looking for a handout

And the Fort Maitland boat ramp at 900 South Orlando Ave. would be a great place to launch your kayak!

Summary

My Gallery /  Flickr photo set:  Maitland on Flickr
Website:  http://artandhistory.org
Address / Phone: 231 West Packwood Avenue, Maitland, Florida
Central Florida Photo Ops Rating:  A great place to explore; Lots of photo ops

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island – March 26, 2013

I saw an interesting article in the New Your Times this week confirming what I feel:  Spending time out in nature can improve your mind.  It’s called “Easing Brain Fatigue With a Walk in the Park” and references a study published this month in The British Journal of Sports Medicine.  (I hope you can read the NYT article – I’m not sure how their pay wall works.)  The study measured volunteer’s brain waves as they walked along a path through three parts of a city.  Then they looked at the recorded patterns for signs of frustration, agitation, attention / engagement, and calmness.  The portion of the path through a park engaged the people’s attention while at the same time increasing their calmness.  The urban portions of the walk increased their frustration.  The moral of the story (at least for me):  Spend more time with nature, and wildlife.

I increased my engagement with nature and my calmness this week by visiting the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

I stopped first at Kars Park.  I hadn’t been there before and wanted to scout it as a sunrise spot.  I also hoped I could see / photograph the cruise ships at Port Canaveral from there.  They should make a good subject when they’re lit up in the dark.  I arrived before dawn and found a pier, but didn’t really like the results and moved on.  I’ll have to try again some time.

On the way to MINWR I noticed clouds developing on the horizon.  They were pretty enough to make me pull over for this photo:

Pretty clouds
Pretty clouds – My sunrise photos didn’t come out so well, but the light was interesting a little later in the morning.

Turning in to Gator Creek Road, I spotted an Osprey in a dead tree.  I crept up slowly, stayed in my car, and tried not to disturb it.  It gave me a few hard looks but kept eating and was still there when I left.

No sushi for you – An Osprey with breakfast along Gator creek Road. It watched me as I drove slowly by and didn’t seem to want to share.

A little further on, I ran into this pair, also enjoying breakfast:

No sushi for you! 2
No sushi for you! (2) – A pair of eagles. They didn’t look like they wanted to share their meal either. I enjoyed watching them for a while and when they finished eating they flew away together – so I’m pretty sure they’re a couple.  I’d like to go back to the area to see if I can get a better photo.

After Gator Creek, I took a turn around Blackpoint Wildlife Drive.  It was pretty quiet but I did see a few of the regular birds (Great Blue and Tri-colored Herons, Great and Snowy Egrets, Black Skimmers, Gulls, Mottled Ducks, Terns, Scaups, etc.).

My last stop was the Bairs Cove boat ramp.  I wanted to check out a new kayak launch area just across Haulover Canal from there.  On the way in to Bairs Cove I noticed an isolated tree on the left and made a quick photo.  As I drove around the boat ramp parking area I kept thinking about the scene.  Something was very appealing and I didn’t want to get home without a good image of it, so on the way out I stopped again and made this more careful photo.  It’s two IR, HDR images arranged so I could stitch a vertical panorama to get this square format result.

A tree along the road to Bairs Cove
A tree along the road to Bairs Cove

As usual, my visit to MINWR was very enjoyable – and engaging, and calming.  Click on the photos above to see larger versions.  You can also see more photos from MINWR in this set on Flickr, and Black Point in this set.  And I have many older posts about MINWR  – you can look through them from this link.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!  And by the way, Happy Easter!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Summer Blahs

July in Central Florida is a tough time for photo-ops, especially nature and wildlife photo-ops. The bird breeding season is over, and the heat makes both human and animal activity brief and difficult.

A few of us did scout Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge last weekend.  It’s supposed to have the largest summer gathering of Swallowtail Kites in the Southeast US.  They spend July and August there while they prepare to  migrate to Brazil.  We didn’t see any.  We’ll try again and I’ll put together a better scouting report.

Birdless, misty morning
Lake Woodruff National Wildlife Refuge: Birdless, misty morning

I did manage to make a couple of photos around my neighborhood last week.  This one is from Tuesday.  I noticed these awesome rain clouds on my way home from work and stopped by a small park on the south shore of Lake Jessup to photograph them.

Might Rain
Might Rain: Looking north from the south shore of Lake Jessup

And this is a photo of one of our neighborhood eagles.  We’ve seen it sitting in this tree on many mornings this year.

Neighborhood Bald Eagle
Neighborhood Bald Eagle:  It always amazes me when I see one of these in the wild.  What a remarkable comeback they’ve had from near extinction.

So there you have it.  My photo life this week.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved