Tag Archives: Snowy Egret

Merritt Island – 1/31/15

Kevin M. organized a quick trip over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last weekend and invited me to go with him and Kevin K.  We started at Space View Park, where we watched a lovely sunrise.

Dawn from Space View Park Dawn from Space View Park

Next we drove around Blackpoint Wildlife Drive where there were lots of birds, some wild hogs, some alligators, and lots of  photographers!   Two different ponds had concentrations of fish attracting swarms of birds (mostly Snowy Egrets).  They were flying low over the water and snatching their meals “to – go”.  This one seemed full – it stood watching the action.

Fluffy Egret Fluffy Egret

The Great Horned Owl  nest was empty this time.  We scanned the surrounding trees trying to spot the owls (like Jim Boland did on his visit) but we weren’t able to find them.

At least three Painted Buntings were hanging around near the feeder at the visitor’s center.  The light’s usually difficult there for me, but this time I managed to get a good photo of this colorful bird.  It’s exciting to see something like this in the wild.  Now’s the best time – they migrate through here in the winter.

In the bushes 

In the bushes – Painted Bunting

MINWR is a wonderful place and there’s almost always something there worth seeing.  Check it out for yourself!

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Things are hoppin’ at Black Point!

This is a truly great time of year to visit the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  I’ve gone over for the last two weekends.  As I mentioned in my previous post, I took Lynn, Mary, and Monette there last Sunday – we had a great time and spotted lots of birds.  I told Kevin M. about it and he insisted we go back yesterday with Kevin K.

Why is it so good over there now?  I’m glad you asked!  The number and types of birds in and around Black Point Wildlife Drive are probably the greatest I’ve ever seen.  There are both regular species and winter visitors.  Ducks are there in huge numbers, both in the water and flying overhead in vast formations close enough that the sound of their beating wings is quite loud.  The larger wading and shorebirds are also there in force.  On both days, there were feeding frenzies going on in ponds along BPWD.  The water is full of minnows and the birds are feasting on them.

Black Point Wildlife Drive Feeding Frenzy Video

By the way, this situation is an ideal set up to practice your BIF (birds in flight) photography.  Here’s a photo I made at this same pond, showing an egret with one of the minnows.

Snowy Egret with minnow
Snowy Egret with minnow

And here’s a close-up of the minnows in the water.  No wonder the birds are going crazy!

The reason for the festive gathering
The reason for the festive gathering (photo by Kevin McKinney)

On these two days, we saw close to 40 different types of wildlife.  And I’m sure there were others I either didn’t see, didn’t recognize or forgot.  Here’s a partial list:

  • Alligator, Cows, Deer, Manatee
  • American Avocets
  • Anhingas
  • Belted Kingfishers
  • Black vultures
  • Black Skimmers
  • Coots
  • Cormorants
  • Ducks:  American Wigeon, Blue Wing Teals, Hooded Merganser, Lesser Scaup, Northern Pintail, Northern Shoveler
  • Egrets:  Cattle, Great, Reddish, and Snowy
  • Grackles
  • Herons: Great Blue, Green, Little blue,  and Tri-color
  • Ibis:  Glossy, and White
  • Mourning Doves
  • Northern Mockingbird
  • Osprey
  • Pie billed grebe
  • Red Bellied woodpecker
  • Ring billed Gull
  • Roseate Spoonbills
  • White pelican
  • Wood storks
  • Yellow Rumped Warbler

Cruising White Pelican
Cruising White Pelican – a winter migrant to our area

So two wonderful visits, although we did have some disappointments.  We looked for Florida Scrub Jays and didn’t see them in the normal spot.  And the sunrise photos on both days were a challenge.  Here’s what it looked like yesterday:

Foggy mornin'
Foggy mornin’

 

As usual, you can see larger versions of these images on Flickr by clicking on them. And I have more photos from MINWR in this set and BPWD in this set.

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

©2012, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

St. Augustine Alligator Farm Rookery Update

I visited the Rookery in St. Augustine for the first time this year with two other members of the Photography Interest Group.  Things are really hopping!!!

Cattle Egret pair in breeding colors
Cattle Egret pair in breeding colors: These go from plain white to very colorful during breeding season.  This pair was hiding back in the bushes and it was difficult to get a clean  image, but they eventually moved a bit right before I made this photo.

We saw Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Woodstorks, Spoonbills, Little Blue Herons, Tri-Color Herons, and of course – alligators.  Some are just starting to build nests and breed.  Others (the Great Egrets) already have good size chicks in the nest.

Great Egret and chicks
Great Egret and chicks

There are very few places that you can get this close to tolerant, wild birds.  It’s wonderful for both experienced and beginner bird photographers.  If you haven’t been by yet, now is the time.

Snowy Egret Portrait (in breeding colors)
Snowy Egret Portrait (in breeding colors)

You can read previous posts I’ve written about the rookery here, here, here, here, and here.  And you can see many of my photos from St. Augustine in this set on Flickr.

Thanks for visiting – now go make some photos!

©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Sunrise and Wading Egret – Persistance Pays

A few of us from the Photography Interest Group drove over to Blackpoint Wildlife Drive yesterday morning.  We had one new member with us and for the first half of the loop we were all a bit worried about the lack of good photo opportunities — although I had made one sunrise photo that I like.

Swampy sunriseSwampy sunrise

We didn’t see many birds at first and the water level was down a bit.   I’m not sure why since I think we’ve had a good amount of rain lately. Perhaps it was due to tides.

We were more than half way around the loop when we came up on two pools on the left hand side with a lot of bird activity. It turns out there were large numbers of small minnows in the pools and a variety of herons, ibis and egrets were flying back and forth between the pools feeding on the fish. Situations like this provide a wonderful  opportunity for photographers. Just as in the nest building scenario I wrote about a few weeks ago, the birds act in a somewhat predictable, repeatable way. You can study them and place yourself in good light and to show the birds’ activity in their environment. I was looking for something a little different and spotted this break in the reeds with the sun coming over my shoulder. I only had to wait a little while for an obliging Snowy Egret to pose between the reeds for me.  Now, if it had only raised its crest!

Little Egret

Snowy Egret Posing

Remember when you’re making photos of very white birds like this to check your histogram. Make sure your exposure isn’t blowing out the white highlights so that you preserve detail in the feathers.  If you do have pixels up against the right side of the histogram, use a little negative exposure compensation to move them back toward the left.

Once again patience and persistence paid off for us and everyone in the group had a chance at some very good photos.  I’ve also written here before about not putting your camera away until you’re back in the car.  Yesterday was another example of this very important rule!

Click on either of the photos above to go to Flickr, where you can view them larger.  You can also see other photos I’ve made at Blackpoint in this set on Flickr.

©2010, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.