I’ve photographed the wildflowers (swamp sunflowers) that bloom near Lake Jessup at this time of year since about 2006. I’ve never seen as many people out there as I did tonight. When I drove by on 417, there were 8 or 10 cars along the shoulder and people with cameras and tripods were clambering down into the flowers to get photos. When I arrived at the Lake Jessup Conservation Area just before sunset, the gate was closed and the two parking spaces outside the gate were already taken – so I had to park on the road. On my walk in, I met up with two people with cameras and on my way out another person stopped me to ask what I’d seen. On most previous trips, I haven’t seen anyone. I guess the word has gotten around.
Lake Jessup Conservation Area – Fisheye fun with the Swamp Sunflowers.
The flowers are at their peak. If you want to see or photograph them, you should go in the next few days.
Lake Jessup Conservation Area Wildflowers
Check out these links for info and please be careful. Stopping along 417 could be dangerous.
If you live in the Central Florida area and want to photograph an endless field of flowers, get ready to head over to the Marl Bed Flats in the Lake Jesup Conservation Area where Swamp Sunflowers (Helianthus angustifolius, also called Narrow Leaf Sunflowers) bloom from horizon to horizon during the last week in September and the first week of October.
Kevin M. in the flowers at the Lake Jessup Wilderness Area
I drove by on highway 417 this afternoon to see what’s going on, and there are already a few flowers out. My guess is that they’ll start peaking next weekend. Check out these links for info and maybe I’ll see you out there!
One thing that’s really wonderful about the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is that it’s such a large and varied area. Even if the main attractions (like Blackpoint Wildlife Drive) are slow, you can still find plenty to see and photograph in other areas. And the surroundings offer some very scenic Florida landscapes.
I visited once again Saturday morning with fellow Photography Interest Group member Kevin M. We stopped as we normally do at a likely spot on the way for a sunrise photo. This was the scene at Rotary Riverfront Park, just north of highway 50 on US 1. There’s a pier leading to a set of docks that offer many different compositions. It’s a beautiful place and although several people showed up to watch the sun rise, I was the first out on the pier – and felt a little bad when I disturbed a couple that had slept on one of the benches at the end.
Dawn in Titusville, Florida: There were several people enjoying the view from Rotary Riverfront Park, across from the Vehicle Assembly Building at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC). I tried my new Hoya ND400 neutral density filter and I like the way it works. If you haven’t used something similar, you should. It’s one way to make your photos stand out.
When we left and headed to Blackpoint, the clouds you see in the distance turned into rain, which fell off and on in spots for an hour or so. This made for “ISO 2000 light”, which means it was dim for good bird photography. It turns out that didn’t matter too much, since the birds were few and far between. We did see a few of the normal species: Anhingas, Belted Kingfishers, Cormorants, Great Blue and Little Blue Herons, Redish, Great and Snowy Egrets, Grebes, Moorhens, some unidentified ducks in the distance, and a few shore birds. The water there was very high – maybe the highest I’ve seen it. I wonder if this is related to the bird count or not?
After Blackpoint, we decided to try a new area and stopped by Hammock Trails. These take off in two directions from the parking area and wander through some hardwood trees as well as typical Florida pines and palms. We were hoping to see a few migrant Warblers, but had no luck. I’m not a very good birder – although I heard a few, I didn’t see a single one along these trails. I did come across this railroad track, which I thought made a good subject:
Leading to separation – Train tracks crossing Hammock Trail in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. This is a Black & White conversion of a bracketed, Infra Red, Panorama
Our last stop of the day was the Visitor Center. Since our annual pass is expiring, we wanted to renew. We arrived at about 9:30. They don’t open until 10, so we wandered around for a bit.
Carolina Wren – Sighted along the boardwalk at the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center.
There wasn’t any activity at the bird feeder, but we could hear several birds on the boardwalk. We ended up seeing a Carolina Wren, a pair of Cardinals, a Black and White Warbler, and a Red Eyed Vireo, and I’m guessing there were others we didn’t see. The ranger mentioned White Eyed Vireos and we’ve seen them there in the past.
So we watched a nice sunrise, and even though the birds were scarce at a couple of areas, we ended up with some interesting avian sightings, and enjoyed being out. All in all, a very good morning.
Like many people in the US, Lynn and I headed to the beach for Labor Day. We really like Casey Key on the Gulf Coast of Florida just north of Venice. Like always, it was very relaxing. We swam, shelled, ate, walked the beach, and got plenty of sun. I also had a little time for some photography.
The north jetty at the inlet in Casey Key Florida is full of people fishing and watching the sunset. I watched from the south jetty in Venice. The sail boat was a nice bonus.
Willet on the beach – This bird was very cooperative. When not fishing in the surf, it would occasionally come close.
On the beach – We were wandering around exploring the area near the Venice Pier. Since it was close to mid-day, I didn’t expect any good light but I took my IR camera in case something came up. I think the IR characteristics add a lot of interest to the photo.