Monthly Archives: October 2017

Day Trip to Whittier, Alaska

Editors note:  Today we have another wonderful post from our roving correspondent MaryKate.  Her report includes beautifully surreal landscape images as well as excellent wildlife watching tips and photographs. It’s well worth clicking the link at the end to view the rest of her photos.  Enjoy!

In late September, I had the pleasure of visiting Monette and Jesse in Anchorage, AK for Emergency Birthday Six (our annual tradition of a last-minute birthday adventure). It was the second-to-last weekend of the tourist season, so we were excited to find a company still doing day cruises: Phillips Cruises & Tours 26 Glacier Cruise out of Whittier, Alaska.

To get from Anchorage to Whittier (population 214 people), we drove along the Seward Highway, one of my absolute favorite views ever.  We saw two Beluga Whales fishing along the shore at Beluga Point – and reported them to the Cook Inlet Beluga Whale Photo-ID Project!  I’ve looked for the Belugas every time I drive along this beautiful road, and this was my first time finally seeing them (unfortunately the only picture I have is the memory in my mind).  From Beluga Point, give yourself plenty of time to get through the 2.5 mile Whittier Tunnel – the longest highway tunnel in North America!

Seward Highway

View from Seward Highway

The 26 Glacier Cruise, as promised, delivered many stunning glacier views.  Due to weather, we took an alternate route that the on-board Park Ranger told us he had only done several times in his career and got up close to some amazing glaciers.

Glacier Cruise

View from Glacier Cruise

While the first few hours of the cruise was mostly scenic views, we began to see much more wildlife towards the end of the cruise including Sea Otters, Sea Lions, Bald Eagles, and this Seal floating by on an iceberg.

Seal on an Iceberg

Along for the Ride

But my breath was taken away in the last 30 minutes, when we were on our way back to shore, and the captain spotted a pair of Orca Whales!  It’s always magical seeing these friends in the wild.

Orca Whales

Male and Female Orca Whale Couple

I can’t wait to go visit Monette and Jesse again – in addition to being great friends, they live in an absolutely beautiful state, and I always enjoy exploring Alaska with them!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  More photos can be found in the album here. Now – go be amazed by wildlife and make some photos!

©2017, MK Rosack and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Point Wildlife Drive is open again!

Yay! Jim Boland’s newsletter let us know that they’ve reopened Black Point so when Tom M. asked if I wanted to go out photographing I suggested we head to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. We met early Friday morning and drove over on State Road 50.

St. Johns River at dawnSt. Johns River at dawn

Our first stop was at the boat ramp on the St. Johns River. It’s a pretty place at dawn and the view was different this time since the water is several feet higher than I’ve ever seen it. Lots of rain here recently.

Once at the refuge, we headed straight to Black Point. The water there is a little higher than I’ve ever seen it too. The road surface was in great shape – I didn’t see any damage remaining from the hurricane.

Spiders and webs were very common. This one had set up in some great early morning light.

Banana SpiderBanana Spider – A little early for Halloween!

Some of our winter migrants are starting to show up and our regular birds were around, but not in great numbers. Belted Kingfishers teased us, and there were a few Savannah Sparrows foraging near the road.

Savannah SparrowSavannah Sparrow

We didn’t see too many ducks. I’m not sure if they just haven’t come down yet, or if they’re somewhere else.

We thought we spotted another Kingfisher over the canal on the right by the paved section near the exit. It was about the right size and seemed to fly like a Kingfisher. But then it landed in a tree and started acting like a Woodpecker – perched on the side of the main trunk and hopping around. I was pretty far away but took several photos anyway. When I got home and looked closely I didn’t recognize the bird. Kevin M. helped me ID it as a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (another new life bird for me!). Unfortunately, the photos aren’t very good so I haven’t posted them. Maybe next time I can catch it closer in better light. It seems like I’m always saying that!

One more thing: We met a woman at the rest area on the drive who’d just seen a Bobcat. She was patiently waiting to see if she could get a better photo. We left before we found out if she was successful. I’ve seen a Bobcat out there before, but it was further along, not near the Rest Area. If you go, keep your eyes open!

I have many more Black Point photos in this folder on Flickr. I’m glad it didn’t suffer too much damage from Hurricane Irma and it’s open again.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Orlando Wetlands Park – 14 Oct 17

Kevin M. and I met at Orlando Wetlands Park Yesterday before sunrise.  It was gloomy and raining, but not for long.  I liked the way the low sunlight lit up this scene as the clouds were clearing.

Marsh Morning IIMarsh Morning II – This is a two frame, Olympus Hi Res, panorama using the technique described in this post:  http://edrosack.com/2011/01/21/two-image-pano-hdr-focus-stacking/

We had a hard time deciding where to go – storm damage and other circumstances are limiting our choices.  Many places that we like in Central Florida are closed (Viera Wetlands, Lake Apopka, Mead Gardens, many parts of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Jetty Park, etc.).  We ended up deciding between Circle B Bar in Lakeland and Orlando Wetlands (both are open).  I hadn’t been to either for a while and Orlando Wetlands is closer, so…

With the sun up and the clouds gone, we walked for a while before it got too hot.  This colorful bird caught my eye.  I didn’t realize it was a new life bird until I got home.

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat – A life bird!

There were lots of these flowers blooming.  I see them all the time although I’d never looked them up.  They’re native to Florida and the Americas.

Pickerelweed flowersPickerelweed flowers

Some other things we saw:  a Raccoon, a Peregrine Falcon, Red Shoulder Hawks, Black Belllied Whistling Ducks, a Juvenile Blue Heron and other wading birds, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Painted Bunting, Red Eyed and White Eyed Vireos, House and Carolina wrens, Palm Warblers, and a Chicken (the Ranger said its name is Chuck).

It was very nice to visit a place with no sign of the recent hurricanes.  Lots of other folks thought so too and were out there enjoying the day.  It’s a large place – I’ve ridden around it on my bike, but it’s too far for me to walk the whole thing.  They have a guided tram ride at 9am (confirm on their website) and it’s worth trying if you’re there at the right time and want to see more of the place with expert commentary.  Remember too that the park is open year round now – it no longer closes during the winter.  You can see some other Orlando Wetlands Park photos in this Flickr Album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157639616792296, and you can read other posts mentioning the park at this link.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

One and Two and One, Two, Three

Here are a few photos from a scouting trip to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last Thursday.  I wanted to see how it was doing in the wake of Hurricane Irma and my shutter finger was itchy.  Some things didn’t fare too well:

Wreck at Markers 1 and 2Wreck at Markers 1 and 2 – on the northwest side of the Max Brewer Causeway 

I drove over on SR 46 from Winter Springs and the road was clear the entire way.  Although the water’s very high in some locations (especially near the St. Johns River), it doesn’t reach the road.

I made these next three images standing in the same spot near the Bairs Cove boat ramp on Haulover Canal.  It’s amazing how reliable a place this is to see wildlife.  I almost always find at least these three species when I go there and I was glad to see them still around after the storm.

One PelicanOne Pelican

Two ManateesTwo Manatees

Three DolphinsThree Dolphins

They’ve finished the Haulover Canal Bridge repairs so it’s open now.  I need to go back there and kayak again.  It is going to cool off soon I hope!

There were a few shore birds along the causeway.  I couldn’t check out the wildlife in two of my favorite areas (Black Point and Gator Creek) since they’re closed due to hurricane damage.  I don’t know when they’ll reopen – you can find out the current status at this webpage:  https://www.fws.gov/nwrs/threecolumn.aspx?id=2147578811

For everyone that ended up on this page after searching for math answers or song intros, I’m sorry about the title.  I know it’s bad for Search Engine Optimization, but I couldn’t resist.  I only wish I’d found a group of four somethings to photograph too.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved