Tag Archives: wildlife

Wildlife

TURTLEy Awesome Adventure

While technically outside of the Central Florida Photo Ops area, this week’s post comes to you from the Loggerhead Marinelife Center down in Juno Beach, FL.  The Center is a turtley awesome 12,000 square foot non-profit education and ocean conservation facility with a veterinary hospital, exhibit, outdoor classroom, research lab, resource center, and – my favorite – a really great gift shop (you don’t have to feel guilty leaving with souvenirs, it’s all for a great cause!).

Turtle rescue and rehabilitationLoggerhead Marinelife Center facility

For the second year in a row (now a tradition!), some of the family headed down to meet Pumpkin, the green sea turtle patient I adopted this Christmas for my sister-in-law Sara.  Pumpkin was stranded at Palm Beach, FL and arrived to the Marinelife Center on November 2.  The  victim of a net entanglement, Pumpkin has an injury to its left front flipper and hasn’t been eating well.  However, Pumpkin seemed active and in good spirits when we visited, and we can keep tabs on his progress (and hopefully eventual release date) through his patient page on the Center website.

Turtle rescue and rehabilitationPumpkin, Sara’s green sea turtle adoptee

The main section of the facility has six large glass-front tanks where you can watch the turtles from the top or get a “fish eye” view from the front.  We really flipped out over our two new friends: Squash and Nicklen were really shelling it out for the cameras!

Turtle rescue and rehabilitationHeros In A Half Shell: Turtle Power!

SquashSquash was squishing against the glass to see us!

You can also watch the vet staff interact with and treat the turtles.  In the picture below, they were draining the water in Waffle’s tank for a disinfectant treatment on its flipper.  The Loggerhead Marinelife Center is great with education and makes the turtles very accessible to watch and learn about – you can also watch the vet staff in the turtle hospital through their large front windows.

Turtle rescue and rehabilitationWaffle prepares for his disinfectant treatment

The Center is a wonderful place for kids and adults alike – whether you visit in person, attend a turtle release, or check out their Turtle Cam, there are lots of ways to learn about these gentle giants.  And if you’re looking for a last-minute 2016 charitable deduction, then consider donating or even adopting your own! You can help the Loggerhead Marinelife Center rehabilitate and release even more endangered sea turtles.

Editors notes:

Thanks for stopping by and reading the blog.  Now go save some turtles – and make some photos!

Turtle rescue and rehabilitationDon’t get thrown in the tank during your New Years SHELLebration!!

©2016, MK and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A walk in the park

I usually walk in my neighborhood several times a week.  It’s a good way to get some exercise and say hello to folks.  I did something different last Friday and drove over to Orlando Wetlands Park for my morning hike.

It was still dark when I arrived and I could hear owls and whistling ducks calling on the way out to Lake Searcy – one of my favorite landscape places.  I didn’t like the view this time since the water was low and the appealing  mirror like reflections were missing.  I ended up moving to a new location for this:

Middle marsh mystery island
Middle marsh mystery island

Morning color was disappointing, but I do like the image.  After sunrise, I wandered around and made some bird photos.  There were many Little Blue Herons:

Pretty little bluePretty little blue

And the Palm Warblers are here in force, bobbing their tails as they pose in the reeds:

Palm WarblerPalm Warbler

And here’s one of the whistling ducks.  I caught it mid-preen:

Black Bellied Whistling DuckBlack Bellied Whistling Duck

The last time I was at Orlando Wetlands was in February.  It was good to get back and a lovely walk.  And carrying weights (photo equipment) made it better exercise.  Plus, I made some photos!

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Channeling the Beauty of our National Parks

Editors note:  Today we have another post from our roving correspondent,  MaryKate.  This time she travelled to the Channel Islands off the coast of California.   I hope you enjoy her report!


I’ve recently become even more enthralled with our country’s amazing National Park system. So when I headed to Los Angeles for an event with my friend Molly a few weekends ago, I jumped on the opportunity to visit two of our country’s jewels: Santa Monica National Recreation Area and Channel Islands National Park.

Just 35 miles from Los Angeles, the Santa Monica National Recreation Area is an escape from the bustle of the city. We headed to the Anthony C. Beilenson Interagency Visitor Center for some orientation (and souvenir shopping), and did the short but steep hike up to Inspiration Point. We saw lizards and birds along the way, and the dry landscape made for dramatic views against the Santa Monica Mountains:

Plant at the PinnaclePlant at the Pinnacle

That Saturday, we took a morning boat trip out to Anacapa Island – the smallest of the Channel Islands – with a company I’d highly recommend: Island Packers. For just $29 each way, the beautiful boat ride alone was worth the trip. On our way to Anacapa, we enjoyed stunning views of Oxnard Harbor, a few Harbor Seals “sunning”, and even an illusive Minke Whale (he was too quick to photograph and never came back up).

Seal ReflectionsSeal Reflections

The Channel Islands are truly a magical place, sometimes called the United States’ Galapagos Islands because there are 145 species of plants and animals only found there. We stayed 3 hours on the island exploring, seeing as much as we could, and eating the picnic we brought, but there are many arrival/departure options so you can stay as long as you’d like (or even camp over – although the smell of pigeon poop was rather strong!).

Anacapa LighthouseAnacapa Lighthouse

I also enjoyed playing with the fish eye lens I borrowed from my Dad – I thought it brought an interesting perspective to the Island.

Channel Islands National Park SignChannel Islands National park Sign

On our way back to land, we had the treat of a humpback whale doing acrobatics for us: for about 10 minutes we watched him partake in “pectoral slapping” – spinning back and forth and slapping his fin on the water – quite the site juxtaposed against a giant oil rig in the background.

Whale vs. ManMan vs. Whale

If you ever find yourself on the West Coast, it’s definitely worth the trip out to the Channel Islands (and a hike over in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area).  It’s amazing to find so much nature near such a large metropolitan area.  Check out the other photos from my trip in this flickr album (including a life bird: the Rock Wren!).


Thanks for stopping by and reading MaryKate’s blog post.  Now, go make some photos!

©2016, MaryKate. All rights reserved.

A bad day for fish…

Photography Interest Group members haven’t been doing much photography together lately.  I was happy that Kevin M. arranged a trip to Viera Wetlands last Friday.  Kevin K. also went along.

Early morning calmEarly morning calm – Along the St. Johns River where it crosses HW 50

On the way, we stopped at a favorite sunrise spot and even though it’s been well photographed, managed to get images we liked.

At Viera, we drove around the main cells a couple of times and saw some interesting things.  This Tricolored Heron had speared a large fish and was trying to swallow it.   It couldn’t hold on and dropped it just after I made this photo.

Tri-colored HeronTri-Colored Heron, this one with breakfast.

We saw a few of the regular birds there, but the ducks and other winter migrants don’t seem to have arrived yet.  On the way out, Kevin M. talked us into taking a quick spin around the Click Ponds and I’m glad he did.  The water’s been low there for a while and the birds are having a feast.  The shallow water concentrates the fish and makes them easy prey.  Birds lined up and grabbed fish out of this small stream that flowed toward the low point in the pond.

Chow lineChow line – The water level in the Click Ponds at Viera Wetlands was very low yesterday. 

Over in the corner was a very large mixed flock also enjoying the banquet.  I spotted Wood Storks, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Tricolored Herons, Glossy and White Ibis, Roseate Spoonbills, Black Vultures, and a White Pelican in this one photo.

A large flock of birdsA large flock of feeding birds

So, it wasn’t a good day for fish, but the birds enjoyed it.

I have many posts about Viera Wetlands here on the blog  that you can scroll through at this link, and many photos you can look through in this album on Flick.

You might also be interested in this quite literal “behind the scenes” look at a very handsome gentleman photographing the sunrise on Friday morning:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/34024553@N08/29844690526/in/dateposted/

Oh, and I might be joking about the handsome gentleman part    😉

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Kodiak, Alaska

Editors note:  Today we have a special treat.  MaryKate has agreed to write a guest blog post about her recent trip to Kodiak Island, Alaska.   Sit back ,relax, and enjoy your vacation from my writing!


Five years ago, my birthday snuck up on me. A week or so before the big day, I called my good friend Monette and said “It’s a birthday emergency! I have no plans!” We booked a last-minute cruise, and ever since, our annual Emergency Birthday Trip has become a tradition I look forward to every year – exploring places as close by as the Florida Keys, and as far away as Oregon and Alaska. The trips always involve spontaneity, road tripping, shopping, National Parks (or the outdoors), wildlife, shopping, eating, shopping and exploring. This year, I returned to Alaska to visit Monette in her current location: Kodiak, the country’s second largest island.


These Boots Were Made For Traveling (Courtesy of Monette)

I take a lot of iPhone photos. But for this trip, my Dad let me borrow one of his many cameras since photo opportunities would be plentiful and I knew I might want to enlarge and print some wildlife pictures. He added an all in one 28 to 240mm equivalent lens to his Olympus E-M1 camera and programmed it with an iAuto setting (for fast-moving wildlife) and a P setting (for “Pretty much everything else”). While we had some rare Kodiak sunshine, the lighting was generally overcast and difficult. But with my Dad’s processing, I got some great shots!


Near Reflections: Boat harbor on Near Island

Saturday morning, we drove the Island road system and saw everything from a herd of wild buffalo to majestic mountains and mud flats. Monette said a lot of the vegetation had changed over the last week or so from bright and blooming to brown. I thought this picture eloquently captured the end of a season.

The End of Fall

That night we took an intimate dinner cruise with Galley Gourmet. Marty and Marion Owen were amazing hosts on board the Sea Breaze, where Marion made a from-scratch dinner with fresh ingredients from her garden and Marty steered the boat towards captivating wildlife like Stellar Sea Lions, Horned and Tufted Puffins and Sea Otters. I would highly recommend this dinner cruise for anyone in the area!

Marty said they hadn’t seen whales in a week or two, but sure enough, it was a Birthday Miracle and we found some Humpback Whales to watch and enjoy for about 30 minutes. I have some Humpback pictures from when my Dad and I were in Maine, but I’ve never been able to catch the illusive Puffin (which fly faster than I zoom through an airport!). I found that the P setting on the camera worked a little better.

Puffin Zone

We enjoyed watching this pair of baby Stellar Sea Lions play (the two smaller, darker ones near the middle). To our entertainment – but to the annoyance of the older residents – the babies kept jumping and splashing in and out of the water.

Stellar Viewing

It was an amazing trip filled with beautiful views and memories. And like all Emergency Birthday trips, I’m already counting down the days until next year.

You Otter Be Here

Here are more photos from the trip.  Click on any of the thumbnails to see them larger.


Thanks for stopping by and reading MaryKate’s blog post.  Now, go make some photos!

©2016, MaryKate and Monette. All rights reserved.

Epic Utah road trip – Chapter 1

I have many “out of Florida” photos to share with you today from Utah.  MK wanted to take a short sightseeing trip out there over the 4th of July weekend and asked me to be her travel buddy.  Of course, I couldn’t turn that down!  Last year on my trip out west , I passed up seeing Zion and Bryce Canyon because I wanted more time in Death Valley National Park.  I’m glad I got to go back.

Flowers at daybreakFlowers at daybreak – Cedar Breaks National Monument.  We visited this beautiful place twice.  The second time before dawn, when we were the only ones there.

Because this was my first time there and our visit was so short, I’m going to write more of a “travel log” instead of a “what and where they are and how to photograph them”.  I wouldn’t try to write that until I was way more familiar with the area.  I will say that it is spectacularly scenic and if you get a chance, just go.  You’ll find all sorts of things to point your camera at.

The first place we visited was Cedar Breaks National Monument.  It was a surprise to me – I hadn’t really heard of it before.  It’s very scenic and has a lot of wildlife too.  We saw many deer on the trip.  Unfortunately, there were several on the side of the road – we watched carefully to make sure we didn’t hit any.

Morning deerMorning deer

We actually went by Cedar Breaks twice.  The second day, we left early to find a sunrise spot and ended up there.  By ourselves – magnificent!

Sunrise at Point SupremeSunrise at Point Supreme – Cedar Breaks

We were walking through the visitors area and I was looking around in the trees trying to find the bird making a very strange call I didn’t recognize. A nice German gentleman came up to me and pointed out the Marmot that was making the racket. A bit embarrassing – but I did get a photo.

Yellow Bellied MarmotYellow Bellied Marmot

Our bird watching was casual, but I did record one new life bird.

Mountain BluebirdMountain Bluebird – These were quite common at Cedar Breaks National Monument

One other place we wandered to was Brian Head Peak – a very scenic ski town.  You can tell from the first photo and this one that there were lots of wildflowers blooming – a beautiful bonus!

Flowers by the road to the topFlowers by the road to the top – On the way up to 11,000 feet at Brian Head Peak, Utah

Here’s a summary of our trip:

  • 53 hours duration (Saturday morning – Monday evening)
  • 1,091 miles driven
  • 3 National Parks (Zion, Bryce, Capitol Reef)
  • 3 National Monuments (Cedar Breaks, Grand Staircase-Escalante, Timpanagos)
  • 1 All-American Scenic Byway (Route 12)
  • 1 life bird (Mountain Bluebird)
  • 1 Yellow-Bellied Singing Marmot
  • 1 Elk
  • Lots of deer
  • 14 stamps for MK’s National Park Service passport
  • 700+ photos
  • 1 epic father-daughter Utah road trip! We were so very tired when we got home!

What a terrific trip – thank you MK! I’m still going through the photos and adding favorites to my Utah album on Flickr.  You can take a look there if you want to see more.  And click on any of the photos in this post  to see a larger version on Flickr.

I’ll work on a post with photos from the other spots next week.  Until then, thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

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.