Tag Archives: Osprey

Happy Mother’s Day!

To all Mom’s everywhere, Happy Mother’s Day!

Osprey nest (with adult and chick)
Momma Osprey and baby – found while kayaking along the north shore of Lake Dixie In Lake Louisa State Park.  The nest looked empty at first.  Then Mom flew in and baby popped up.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go tell your Mom you love her!

©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.

Blue Cypress Lake

Intro / Description

What a beautiful place.

One cypress treeBlue Cypress Lake

I’d seen a few mentions online of Blue Cypress Lake near Vero Beach, Florida. It’s a long drive from Winter Springs – which is why I hadn’t made it down there. But that’s also why I was up at “0 dark thirty” last Saturday. Fortunately, I packed the night before so I was able to sleep in just a bit.  I also didn’t want to arrive in the dark on my first time there. So Kevin M. and I met at 5:30 near his house and were off.  There was a lot of fog and drizzle on our drive down, although it eventually cleared up and the clouds added some drama to the skies.  We turned in to Blue Cypress Lake Road just after 7am, but were delayed by stops for photos of Wild Turkeys in the fields on the west side and three Otters playing in the road up near the lake.

At Middleton’s Fish camp, we first parked near the camp sites, but couldn’t really see much from the shore – although with the right lens a sunrise shot from the bridge over the canal might be very pretty. We decided to rent a small boat to explore out in the water and wow, I’m glad we did!  We went north and scouted the trees, shoreline, and birds for about two hours.

The calm water and weathered cypress trees make for some outstanding scenery. We also saw literally hundreds of Ospreys and a good portion of them were carrying or eating fish. There were also plenty of alligators, a few quite large.  Black-bellied Whistling Ducks were also numerous and they serenaded us the whole morning.  We heard an eagle but didn’t see it and although there are supposed to be hawks and barred owls, we didn’t see any of them.

Osprey Family
Osprey Family – One of the many nests on Blue Cypress Lake. Many are just a few feet from the water. (Photo courtesy of Kevin McKinney)

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:

According to the locals, the best cypress trees are on the west side of the lake (where Middleton’s is) both north and south of the canal. For sunrise shots, you’d probably want to get between the shore and some of the farther out trees. This might be tough, especially in the dark if you don’t know the lake.  Be careful of hidden snags / submerged fallen trees that could hang you up! If you’re on the lake later in the day, a safer photo might be an evening sunset from a little farther out with a telephoto lens.

Many cypress trees
Many cypress trees: The north-west shore of Blue Cypress Lake, Black & White, Infrared

If you have an IR camera or filter, YOU MUST BRING IT to Blue Cypress Lake! I just love the way Cypress trees show up in infrared.

Depending on how much time you have available, there are a couple of other places you could check out in the area.  On the way home, we went by Joe Overstreet Road.  On the way we saw (and I finally got a photo of) a Swallow-tailed Kite.  When we arrived, we saw Eastern Meadowlarks, Sandhill Cranes, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Bobwhite, egrets, herons, and other birds.  We hoped to see a Whooping Crane, but no such luck.

Swallow-tailed Kite with snake
Swallow-tailed Kite with snake

Tripod/Monopod:

I brought mine, but didn’t use it out on the lake.  It’s not much use inside the boat.  Although many people get out into the water to use theirs, I was a bit leery of doing this.  If you do, just be very careful of the depth and your footing and be sure to watch for alligators!

Lenses:

I had a 16 – 35mm on one camera and a 28 – 82 equivalent on the other.  I felt the 16 – 35 was a bit too wide for the conditions.  Next time I go, I think a 24 – 70 would be ideal for Cypress trees /  landscapes.  For birds of course, you’ll want a stabilized telephoto lens that you can handhold in a moving boat.  Kevin used his 70 – 300VR  on his DX crop body for some great shots.

Best time to visit:

If you go in February – April, you’ll be able to see Osprey’s nesting, breeding and raising their young. Some of the nests are quite close to the water so you can get an excellent look. Just be sure you don’t stress the birds.

There will still be many Ospreys around to photograph the rest of the year. Many of them are fishing and carrying their catch back to a convenient tree, so opportunities for flight shots of these magnificent birds with their prey abound.

Of course, the cypress trees are here year round.

Other:

Middleton’s Fish Camp offers tours and rents boats, and cabins.  If you also fish, they rent fishing tackle and sell bait.  If you do want to rent or take a tour, call ahead for availability.

Summary

My Gallery / Flickr photo set: My Blue Cypress Lake photos on Flickr

Kevin M’s Blue Cypress Lake photos on Flickr

Website: http://www.middletonsfishcamp.com/
Address / Phone:

21704 73rd Manor
Vero Beach, Florida 32966

1-800-258-5002

View in Google Maps

Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: Central Florida Photo-Op must do!

A wonderful, wonderful trip.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Viera Wetlands Reconnaissance

The woman I’m with is wonderful!  I thought I used up all my husband points yesterday when she went to see Harry Potter with me.  But this morning, she nudged me and asked if we were still going birding.  So we did.

I’ve been to Viera Wetlands many times since first discovering it in January of 2010.  It’s one of the most consistent places for birding in Central Florida.  Today was no exception.  We went by the Click Ponds first.  The interesting thing was that the water level was very low.  We saw a huge number of fish concentrated in small areas in the ponds.  The birds gathered around the fish feasting on them.  Many of the birds seemed sated and were too full to be interested in more.

We saw Black-necked Stilts, Roseate Spoonbills, Ospreys, Red-winged Blackbirds, Great Egrets, Limpkins, Wood Storks, Great Blue Herons, Tri-colored Herons, Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Little Egrets, Moorhens, Whistling Ducks, Anhingas, Cormorants, Coots, and other species.  You can see a lot of them in this photo:

Many birds
Click Pond Pano: The water level is low in the Click ponds at Viera Wetlands. This has concentrated the fish and the birds are feasting.

Osprey in flight
Osprey in flight

Lesson learned: Don’t ignore the Click ponds at Viera Wetlands. Especially at this time of year.

See my other posts about Viera Wetlands here.  View my other photos from Viera Wetlands in this Flickr set.

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

Ballpark Ospreys

Lynn and I went to a function in Bartow, Florida this weekend and didn’t have much time for nature or wildlife photography. But we were cruising around her old neighborhood on Saturday morning and happened to notice an Osprey and nest near the Bartow Civic Center, so we stopped for a bit to investigate.

Osprey in flight

Osprey in flight

We pulled into the parking lot and got out to the sound of many calling Ospreys. They were all around the ball field at the Civic Center with many nests on the light poles and one or two Ospreys in each nest (most likely juveniles). Between the ones on the nest and the ones flying around, there must have been 20 to 30 visible. We saw this one both carrying a fish and perched with it.

Osprey in flight with fishOsprey in flight with breakfast

Osprey on perch with perch (?)Osprey on perch with Perch(?) –  This bird wasn’t too happy with me getting near its breakfast

I grew up when raptors / birds of prey were very uncommon and when I was young I certainly never saw any in the wild.  In 1963, there were less than 500 pairs of nesting bald eagles in the lower 48 states. I can remember when the U.S. banned DDT in 1972 (on June 13th, actually – 39 years tomorrow). Living in Florida now, I see bald eagles quite often and Ospreys all the time. Every time I do, I’m glad Rachel Carson wrote her book.

Some interesting Osprey facts [1][2][3]:

  • It’s a single living species that occurs nearly worldwide
  • Thankfully, it’s now evaluated as a species of Least Concern
  • Other names for Osprey: Pandion Haliaeetus, Fish hawk, Sea Hawk, Sea Eagle, White Eagle
  • They can completely submerge when diving for prey
  • They have an opposable talon
  • They generally pair for life, but if mating is unsuccessful, will sometimes “divorce”
  • A female will choose her partner based on the quality and location of the male’s nest
  • Parents will hold back food to encourage fledglings to leave the nest
  • Fledglings will sometimes move to nearby nests where they are fed by other parents

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