This is the best photo I’ve been able to make of a Northern Flicker.
Northern Flicker (Click to see a larger version where you can zoom in a couple of levels.)
This one is yellow shafted and based on the black “mustache” a male. There’s also a western / red shafted variety but I haven’t seen one of those.
I don’t spot them very often although they have been in the blog before (https://edrosack.com/tag/northern-flicker/). The first photo I made of one was back in May of 2013. It’s a blurry image of the bird in flight, fleeing my camera. They seem to be very wary and for me nearly always leave as soon as I see one – which explains why it’s hard to get a good photo.
This bird acted like that too, but only flew short distances and I was able to watch him for a while. Finally he landed on top of a mangrove tree and I made this photo. The pose could be better but I like the warm early morning glow, the catch light in his eye, and the feather detail. Lest you think I was crowding him, that’s not the case. I’m not sure of the exact distance but the focal length I used was equivalent to 1260mm so he was pretty far away.
“Patience and perseverance have a magical effect before which difficulties disappear and obstacles vanish.”
John Quincy Adams
So persevere – it may take years and several tries on a lucky day to get a good photo.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can — keep making some photos!
I stopped by the St. Johns river at the SR 50 boat ramp before sunrise recently. The sky was a bit plain, but there were a few clouds low on the horizon with some pre-sunrise color showing. And Venus was visible below and to the left of a waning crescent moon, which added some interest. I made a few photos hoping to capture what I was seeing.
Venus and the Moon over the Marsh
This image is a four frame panorama that I stitched together in Photoshop. Separate exposures of the sky and foreground helped me record a wider field of view and control the enormous dynamic range of the light. I like the way it turned out. If you click on it, you’ll go to Flickr.com where you can see a larger version as well as zoom in.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can — make some photos!
It’s probably way too late in the year to see the Owls nesting, but there’s a chance that the family could be near so I drove by hoping to spot something. When I slowed down and saw a bird on the nest, I was a bit disappointed that it was “just” an Osprey and almost didn’t stop. They’re common and seeing one isn’t as exciting as finding owls.
Momma* Osprey guarding two chicks
But I stopped anyway and waited a bit to see if the chicks would pop up a little so I could get a better photo of them. It was hard to see the chicks and I was thinking about leaving when I saw another bird off in the distance that turned out to be:
Dad bringing home the groceries
One of the chicks did show itself then, but neither one made a fuss and they weren’t calling out for food, so I think they must be pretty well cared for. I watched a little longer hoping to see them feeding and when that didn’t happen, I thought about leaving again. But then this:
Since Dad’s back, Momma leaves on an errand
I din’t have clue why she left. It turns out she must’ve discovered a weak spot in the nest, because it wasn’t long before she came back:
Momma returns with a stick to repair the nest
And landed in the nest with the stick, very careful not to poke one of the chicks.
Momma carefully lands back at the nest with her stick
Which she moved into place to repair the flaw she’d found.
Momma patching the nest
I was there for about a half hour and these six photos cover a total time span of only 5 1/2 minutes. I was very lucky and excited that this family shared all this activity with me. Maybe Nature was trying to teach me a lesson: Slow down, stay a while, observe. You might see something wonderful. And it doesn’t have to be an owl!
Winter Park Osprey nest: On a related note, Jean Thomas commented (in this post: https://edrosack.com/2022/04/24/busy-birds/) that she went by that nest on April 25th and there was one chick that seemed about two weeks old. She’d heard that there were two seen there earlier. I went by on May 3rd and the nest was abandoned. Sad to know, but not all nests are successful every year.
Tomorrow is Memorial Day in the US: It’s our opportunity to remember those that have sacrificed so much to defend our country. Please honor them with a moment of silence, a reverent act or a thoughtful gesture of thanks.
Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. Honor the fallen. And whenever you can, stay for a while and make some photos. Nature might reward you!
We use the expression to mean that even in a bad situation, there is always some good that can come out of it.
We’ve also had Swallow Tailed Kites circling around over our house. The last time I saw one, I rushed to grab a camera and hurried outside. By the time I was ready, the bird was gone. But there were some awesome clouds out that day.
The future’s a bit cloudy
So out of all those potential photo ops, I only made one photo that I like. I guess you could say the cloud itself is the silver lining.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if there’s a silver lining, make a photo of it!
NOTE: This post is a bit of a downer. If that’s not your thing today, feel free to look at the photos and move on. But if you’re interested in nature, wildlife, and conservation – please read.
Back in March, I wrote this post about using eBird.org to try to figure out whether there are fewer American Avocets at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge now than there used to be.
I enjoyed doing the research and learning more about how to use eBird. But my conclusion at the time was:
“Is there a way to determine the accurate numbers? Sorry – I couldn’t find one. But I’ll keep looking and let you know.”
Well I kept looking and I’ve found some things to share. A while back, MK told me about a report she heard on NPR’s Fresh Air – Dave Davies interviewing Scott Weidensaul about his new book A World On the Wing. It sounded interesting and I was excited when MK got me a copy of the book for my birthday. I’m about a third of the way through it now. I like the book and the writing, although much of the data it presents is disturbing.
“Using multiple and independent monitoring networks, we report population losses across much of the North American avi- fauna over 48 years, including once-common species and from most biomes. Integration of range-wide population trajectories and size estimates indicates a net loss approaching 3 billion birds, or 29% of 1970 abundance.”
Abstract, Decline of the North American avifauna, Science, Vol. 366, No. 6461, 19 Sep 2019, pages 120 – 124
The article doesn’t speak specifically of Avocets, but does say that shorebirds “are experiencing consistent, steep population loss.” So I think that probably answers my original question.
Clouds over Gator Creek*
And it raises many more questions. These losses are massive and the causes are varied and complex. They range from climate change impacts along migration routes, to land development. What can we do about it? I hope we’ll figure that out and make sure all of our decisions account for future impacts. Then maybe someday our grandchildren will see at least as many Avocets as we do.
*These two photos don’t have much to do with the subject. But since this is a photo blog I try to always have some in each post. I guess you could say they do illustrate the idea though – there are no birds in them.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And support conservation efforts, so we can still make some bird photos in the future.
The Clyde Butcher exhibit continues through August 7. It’s well worth going, especially if you’ve never seen any of his prints in person.
Mother’s Day: I hope each and every one of you Moms out there have a wonderful day and enjoy spending time with your families. The world is so much better with all of you in it!
Blogaversary: Fifteen years ago on May 4, 2007, I published my first blog post. Since then it’s become a habit! Many thanks to all of you that stop by week after week to see what’s happening. I know I get a lot of enjoyment writing it and reading your comments. I hope all of you get at least some pleasure from it too.
Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, visit a museum!
It was hard to keep track of all of the activity. Whenever I looked at this nest on the right side at the top of the tree, there were always two or three of the juvenile herons there. So I’m not sure if they were taking turns or only one of them has fledged so far. Anyway, I was fortunate to catch this moment about halfway through our stay:
Look at that! Should we try?
It really looks like only one of three siblings has fledged and the other two seem to be watching in astonishment. Or envy. Or admiration.
Or maybe the two in the nest are just worried about a crash landing!
Thanks for stopping by my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, hang around a nesting tree – and make some photos!
Very busy birds! And in a lot of different places!
Seems like the nesting season is going full blast. I’ve been seeing them everywhere I go. Lake Apopka, Winter Park, Holly Hill, and Ormond Beach. Here are a few photos. The first two are from a Lake Apopka trip a few weeks ago :
Lake Apopka Nesting Tree (near the pump house). I could see four or five nests in this tree: Two Anhinga, a Cormorant and a Great Blue Heron. There’s also a Common Gallinule perched (or nesting?) in the lower left.
A close up of the Great Blue Heron nest in that tree. Some feathers sticking up from the bottom might be a small chick.
This next photo is from the Winter Park Osprey nest. I’ve checked on it several times this year and although it seems active, I haven’t been able to spot any eggs or chicks yet.
Winter Park Ospreys: As of the afternoon of 4/19. I couldn’t see any sign of eggs or chicks in this nest. I’m going to try to go by again next week.
My friend Robert Wilson offered to show me one of his local spots: Centennial Park in Holly Hill. We went by last Monday and there was a lot of activity there too.
This Centennial Park Osprey was gathering nesting material.
Another nesting tree (Centennial Park). This one has five active nests: One Anhinga and four Great Blue Heron. These chicks are getting quite mature, with some already fledging.
Here’s a close up of the Anhiga nest in the tree above. Dad is feeding his very hungry youngster.
This nest in a close by tree is still under construction. The male just passed his mate a new stick to add.
And finally, Robert and I stopped by another spot up in Ormond Beach where he knew of a nesting Yellow-crowned Night Heron. It was hard to get a good photo, but it was exciting to see. These birds are a rare sight for me and to spot one in the nest was a treat!
A Yellow-crowned Night Heron playing peek-a-boo from its nest in Ormond Beach.
You can click on any of these images to see higher resolution versions on Flickr.
It always amazes me what nature shows us if we go out and look. I wonder if you have some near by places like this where you could see some busy birds. We won’t know if you don’t go!
Thank you for reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, wander a bit out in nature – and make some photos while you’re there!
After my Stroll in the Dark through downtown Winter Park, I stopped at the close by Mead Botanical Gardens for a second leisurely walk. It’s a 47 acre natural habitat preserve that’s popular with local birders and a relaxing place to wander. This Marsh Rabbit helped me out with an image to post on Easter:
An Easter Bunny
And this pond always makes for a nice photo:
Pretty light on a placid pond
Mead Gardens is popular birding spot especially during migration. As I walked, I was trying in vain to let my nascent birding skills expose themselves. But then I heard an unfamiliar call…
When I took out my phone and tried sound ID on the Merlin Bird ID app, it said it was a Great Crested Flycatcher. I’d only seen one once before when Kevin M. pointed it out to me at Lake Apopka. The call was very distinctive and loud, so I used it to look for the bird. This one partially hidden and way up in a tree top seemed to be the one making the call:
Certainly not my best photo ever, but an exciting find! And a great demo of how the awesome Merlin app amplifies even my birding knowledge. If you haven’t tried it yet, do so – it’s a free app.
Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, wander a bit out in nature – and make some photos!
I wanted to check on the Osprey nest in downtown Winter Park, Florida. I decided to leave (very) early so I could also make some night time / low light photos in the area. I’ve done that before (see: /https://edrosack.com/2015/10/03/winter-park-at-night/). Here are a few of the results from this time.
Colony Theater Building
The Colony Theater on Park Avenue in Winter Park Florida first opened in 1940. Matinees during WW II cost 39 cents. The theater closed in 1975 and was converted to retail space (see winterparkmag.com/history/). It’s still photogenic. This is a single frame (ISO 100, 26mm, f/8 @ 3.2 sec.)
Bright blooms at night
When I saw that planter in full bloom in front of an interesting building across the street, I knew I had to make a photo. But I wanted everything in focus and both the flowers and the building / lights well exposed. I made three frames: one focused and exposed for the flowers (ISO 100, 35mm, f/8 @ 20 sec.) and two more focused on the building (ISO 100, 35mm, f/8 @ 10 sec. and 4 sec). I did an HDR blend of the building exposures in Lightroom, and loaded the result along with the flower exposure into separate Photoshop layers. There, I aligned and masked the sharp flowers into the building layer. It took a few minutes, but I like the result.
This one is a three frame exposure bracket (ISO 100, 24mm, f/8 @ 4, 10, and 20 sec.). I first called it “Empty street”, but then noticed the three ghostly figures and changed the title. The header image in this web post is an enlargement of the center.
Very early train
I set up and made a test shot while I waited for a train to come through (ISO 100, 53mm, f/7.1 @ 25 sec.). I wanted a long exposure to show a lengthy train streak. When I looked at the image later on my computer, I didn’t like the way the train headlight changed the lighting on the trees, so I ended up using the test frame as the base image and blending in the train streak from the other frame. I’m glad I had that test shot to use!
Anyway, I like how these turned out and I thought maybe you’d be interested in a brief overview of how I made them. And by the way, Momma Osprey was on the nest but I don’t think any chicks have hatched yet. I’ll try to go back and get some photos of them.
Thank you very much for stopping by my blog! Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!