Tag Archives: Osprey

Blue Cypress Ospreys

May 12, 2017 update:  We’re far behind on rainfall here in Central Florida, so the water level in many lakes is very low.  It’s a good idea to call Middleton’s Fish camp (800-258-5002) and check on conditions at Blue Cypress Lake and whether rental boats / tours are available before you go down.

Here are a few more photos from our trip to Blue Cypress Lake.   Last week I only posted IR images, so this time I’ll use all color photos.

Joe Middleton's restJoe Middleton’s rest

It’s peaceful there.  Whenever our boat was still, the calling Ospreys and Whistling Ducks seemed very loud.  Occasionally we could also hear quiet voices from other boats carried across the water.

Many of the Osprey nests are in smaller trees out in the water.  The boats can maneuver for a good vantage point and standing up in the pontoon boats puts you almost at eye level with the wild birds – providing a wonderful view of their behaviors.

Breakfast timeBreakfast time – These chicks were very tiny.  The third one (low in front) shows how well they blend in.

Don told us that the younger chicks were probably from migratory birds, since they start nesting a bit later than the year round residents.  In this next photo,  two year round juvenile birds look almost ready to fledge.

Mama and two juvenile OspreyMama and two juvenile Osprey.

The Ospreys don’t have any trouble catching fish.  But getting a photo of one with a fresh whole catch is a challenge.  They almost always stop right away and consume the heads.

Osprey with fishOsprey with fish.

And then deliver the rest back to the nest for their mate and chicks.

Special deliverySpecial delivery

I have more photos from Blue Cypress Lake in this album on Flickr. And Kevin K. has posted his from last Friday in this folder.

I hope I’ve given you some sense of what a wonderful place this is.  You owe it to yourself to go and experience it.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Beautiful Blue Cypress

May 12, 2017 update: We’re far behind on rainfall here in Central Florida, so the water level in many lakes is very low. It’s a good idea to call Middleton’s Fish camp (800-258-5002) and check on conditions at Blue Cypress Lake and whether rental boats / tours are available before you go down.

Lone cypress at dawnLone cypress at dawn  (IR, B&W, panorama).

The trees at Blue Cypress Lake are simply gorgeous.  Their shapes remind me of  Bonsai, although I think instead Bonsai should remind me of these trees.  The ones here are all completely natural, formed by nature into elegant sculptures.  I love the way my infrared camera renders them.  The bright needles and clouds against the darker sky and water is very appealing.

Lynn and I spent last Thursday night near Vero Beach and met Kevin K. at Middleton’s Fish Camp just before sunrise on Friday.  Middleton’s is the only camp and the only development at all on Blue cypress Lake.  The rest of the lake and shore is completely pristine and undisturbed – very rare in our state.  It’s also quiet.  And peaceful.  And just stunning.

Photographing Blue Cypress LakePhotographing Blue Cypress Lake  (IR, B&W).

I wrote about Blue Cypress Lake back in June of 2012, and that’s worth a read if you’re interested.  All of the info there is still current.

This place really is Florida unspoiled, and a photographic “target rich environment”.  We went on one of their pontoon boat tours at first light and Don (our guide) was knowledgable and skilled at navigating in and among the trees near the shore.   He mentioned that this lake and the surrounding swamp form the headwaters of the St. Johns River, which flows north to the ocean in Jacksonville – something I didn’t know.

Lone cypress and OspreyLone cypress and Osprey  (IR, B&W, panorama).

Blue Cypress Lake is also home to a large colony of Osprey.  There are 200+ breeding pairs with  eggs, hatchlings, and some almost fledged juveniles in nests in the Cypress trees.  The birds fish in the surrounding swamp and carry their catch  back for the young.  Many of these Osprey are migratory and leave for South America after raising their young – something else I didn’t realize.

Jeanne Middleton told me that prime nesting time starts around 10 April so we hit it just about right.  I made a lot of photos of the Osprey last Friday too.  I’ll finish processing them and post them soon.

I have more photos from Blue Cypress Lake in this album on Flickr. And Kevin K. has posted his from last Friday in this folder.

I should go down there and write about this place more often.  It deserves to be seen, photographed, and saved for the future.  Have you been?  If not, what are you waiting for?

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – get some of your friends, head down to Blue Cypress Lake, and make some photos!

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Early Friday at MINWR

I don’t have much to say this morning, so the photos will have to do most of the talking.  I started  yesterday along the Indian River at Space View Park.

Watching the morning sunWatching the morning sun.  This is a two frame, blended exposure.  I made the bottom half  exposed for the water with a Neutral Density filter to slow my shutter speed to 20 seconds at ISO 100 and f/11.  I made the top part with the filter off, exposed for the sunrise at ISO 100, f/11, 1/100 second.  I was very happy to see the Osprey fly through the frame with a fish as I clicked the shutter.  I blended them together in Photoshop with a layer mask.

I planned to drive around on Gator Creek Road next, but it was closed – so I headed to Black Point Wildlife Drive.

Juvenile Little Blue Heron
Juvenile Little Blue Heron.  There were several around, so they must be nesting nearby.  I’ve seen Green Herons breeding there, but not Little Blue Herons.

A Mottled Duck
A Mottled Duck.  I don’t spot these too often.  When I looked it up, I learned (or maybe re-learned) some things.  Mottled Ducks are related to both Black Ducks and Mallards, and are the only duck adapted to breeding in southern marshes.  The Florida population is a subspecies and the male has lost its distinctive plumage so that the both sexes are colored alike.

You can click on these photos to see larger versions, and I have many more MINWR images 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 Toho

Kevin McKinney wanted to go by Shingle Creek for a sunrise photo and I’ve wanted to do that too.  We went last Saturday – and found out that park doesn’t open until 8am.  A little late for sunrise.  🙁

Fortunately we got there early enough for our backup plan to work and we ended up in Kissimmee along the Lake Tohopekaliga shoreline.  They have a park there too – and it was open.  🙂

Lake Toho light at dawnLake Toho light at dawn

There’s a little lighthouse at the end of the jetty and the protected water makes for some nice reflections.

We saw a few birds hunting the shoreline close by that turned out to be Snail Kites.  I’ve only ever seen these before at Viera Wetlands and didn’t get a very good photo.  This one perched nicely for a minute or so before flying off.

Snail KiteSnail Kite

And this Osprey flew by with its morning meal.  I like sushi too, so I went ahead and make a photo of it.

Osprey in flight with fishAnother Osprey with a “take-out” breakfast

A pleasant morning after all and I’m glad the backup plan worked.


Reminder – it’s that time of year again:  The Lake Jesup flowers are getting ready to bloom.  I got an email last week from my on-line friend Jeff Stammer.  He’s already been out to Marlbed Flats to check on the flowers.  He says that while it isn’t as wet as last year, it is quite grown up with tall plants and there aren’t as many cow or horse paths as there have been in the past.  So the hiking may be tougher than usual.  I skipped going last year and regretted it.  I’m going to try hard to get out there this year.  When we drove by Friday evening we could already see some yellow color.  I think they’ll start to really peak in a week or two.

Maybe I’ll see you there!


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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.


 

Lake Apopka Two-fer

Kevin K., Kevin M., and I went round the Wildlife Drive on the Lake Apopka North Shore yesterday.  This 11 mile long section of dirt roads opened to the public earlier this year and provides access to a large part of the restoration area near the lake.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive EntranceLake Apopka Wildlife Drive Entrance.

This was mostly a scouting trip as Kevin K. and I had never been, and since it’s the middle of the summer we didn’t expect to see a lot of wildlife.  But similar to Viera Wetlands, there was lot going on.  We saw many of the usual Florida birds and even some unusual ones like Least Bitterns.  About half way through, we stopped behind another car observing a tree full of birds that turned out to be swallows.

My experience with swallows is that they’re very erratic flyers and seldom sit still – which makes them hard to photograph or even identify.  But these were happily perched in the tree and later on power lines.  This allowed us to get some good photos and recognize several species.  Two (Bank Swallow and Barn Swallow) were lifers for me.  I even got both of them in the same frame – how cool is that?!!

Bank Swallow and Barn SwallowBank Swallow and Barn Swallow

There was a reported sighting of a Northern Rough-winged Swallow at this same place shortly before we got there, but we didn’t see it.  We did see a Purple Martin, which was also cool, although not a life bird.

Lake Apopka was polluted for many years but it seems like the restoration efforts are paying off.  This osprey for example, looks like it’s living large.

Osprey with catfishOsprey and catfish

The wildlife drive doesn’t open until sunrise, so we got there too late for a morning landscape, but we did stop by Lake Monroe in Sanford on the way.  Here’s one image I made there.

Marina at dawnMarina at dawn

Judging by this trip, I’ll be returning often, especially after it cools off and migration starts.  For more info on this place, visit Scott Simmons’ post on his blog.  You can see Kevin Ms photos in this album on Flickr, and Kevin K’s in this album.  I only have a couple in my album so far, but I’ll be adding more.

Lake Apopka North Shore Restoration Area:  another great Central Florida Photo Op!  Go!  See!  Enjoy!

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island and Viera Wetlands

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Viera Wetlands are two of my favorite places to photograph and I had time to visit both last week.  They’re each wonderful and seem similar, yet they can be very different.  When I was at MINWR, it was very quiet with few birds or other wildlife around.  July isn’t the best time for birds in Central Florida, so I wasn’t expecting much.

Blackpoint dawnBlack Point dawn – I’ve seen this area along Black Point Wildlife Drive in MINWR full of birds. Not last week.

On the other hand, Viera Wetlands was full of activity.  Right away, we saw a couple of Osprey fishing:

Osprey with catchOsprey with catch at Viera – always fun to see and a thrill to get a good, in focus photo

And as we walked around we saw Sand Hill Cranes, a Caracara, Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Swamp Chickens (Common Gallinules), a Red-bellied Woodpecker, Least Bitterns, Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, White Ibis, and Green Herons.

Green HeronGreen Heron at Viera – posing nicely in very good light

My friend Kevin M. was with me, and he saw a Yellow-crowned Night Heron.  We also spotted a family of four otters crossing the road, and multiple Alligators.

Why did we see so much more at Viera than Merritt Island?  Was it the weather (don’t think it was much different)?  Time of day (we were there a bit later)?  Water type (fresh vs. brackish)?  Vegetation?  Kevin’s luck?

I really don’t know.  I’m just grateful I went to both places and got to see so much.  The moral of the story:  If one of your local photo spots is quiet, try a different one.  You never know what you’ll see.

I have more photos from Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge collected in this set on Flickr.  And more from Viera Wetlands in this set.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Seasonal Reminders

We’re finally getting cooler weather here in Central Florida.  In addition to making it even more pleasant outside, the fall and winter months bring some changes to our area photo opportunities.

Orlando Wetlands Park is one of my favorite places.  But if you haven’t been there this year, you’ve missed your chance. It closes on November 15 and doesn’t re-open until January 31st.

Downy Woodpecker
Downy Woodpecker at Orlando Wetlands – not a great photo, but it’s my first one of this bird.  ISO 800, 1/800 sec, f/8, 600 mm

And Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (MINWR) is also a favorite.  When I went over last week, Blackpoint Wildlife Drive was closed.  The web page says “until mid November”, so it should hopefully be back open soon.  Fortunately there are many places to photograph in MINWR – even with BPWD closed, it’s still worth a visit.

Black and White Osprey

Black and White Osprey on Gator Creek Road in MINWR.  ISO 400, 1/1600 sec, f/8, 500 mm

Brown Pelican in Flight
Brown Pelican in Flight along Haulover Canal in MINWR.  ISO 800, 1/2500 sec, f/8, 600 mm

Our avian winter visitors are starting to arrive too.  ebird.org has a wonderful website where you can explore birding hotspots all over the world to see what species to expect by month.  Here’s the listings for MINWR.  The number of species ramps way up starting in November.

It’s prime time for getting out into nature and seeing what’s there!  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.