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!
Kevin M. and I have been going out photographing together since 2008 or 2009. But we hadn’t done so for a while. When he invited me to go with him to Lake Apopka yesterday, I eagerly agreed.
The morning didn’t start well. The weather forecast was poor and the fog on the drive up was discouraging too. But we’d agreed to go “rain or shine” and sometimes things work out.
Kevin is a much better birder than I am, and it was a treat to ride along with him, catch up, and look for birds together. Two heads (and two sets of eyes / ears) are better than one and we ended up sighting 34 species (see the list below). Here are photos of some of the things we saw:
Finding bitterns is fun. They’re usually well hidden, but this one was right out in the open and in good light too!
I don’t see Perigrines very often. It was way off in the distance but I managed to get an image ‘for the record’.
I first thought this next one was a Northern Harrier. Kevin had seen one just before. But thanks to a comment from Wally and a closer look, I think I was wrong about that.
Red-shouldered HawkNorthern Harrier
Kevin pointed out this Common Gallinule (Moorhen) balancing on a reed and busily feeding on the seed head. It kept at it while we made some photos and looked like it was enjoying the snack.
Purple Gallinules seem to like Lake Apopka.
I’d heard about Gray-headed Swamphens and seen some images on Flickr. But I hadn’t ever encountered one myself. They’re non-native birds that first started appearing in south Florida in the 1990s and are spreading north. They’re very distinctive and this one knew how to pose.
Black-crowned Night-Herons were along the trail in a few spots. They were all in shadows back in the vegetation. This was the best photo I managed to make of one.
And finally, here’s a landscape photo of the pump house. I think the clouds we’d worried about add a lot of interest.
It was a great trip – catching up with a good friend and letting nature show us her wonders. The weather improved for most of the morning and it didn’t start raining until after lunch. Here are 34 species we took note of:
American Coots, Anhingas, Barn Swallows, Belted Kingfisher, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Black-crowned Night-Herons, Black-necked Stilts, Blue-winged Teals, Boat-tailed Grackle, Cattle Egrets, Common Gallinules, Common Ground-Doves, Double Crested Cormorants, Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, Glossy Ibis, Gray-headed Swamphens, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Least Bitterns, Limpkins, Little Blue Heron, Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinals, Northern Flicker, Northern Harrier, Ospreys, Painted Bunting, Peregrine Falcon, Purple Gallinules, Red-shouldered Hawk, Red-winged Blackbirds, Snowy Egrets, Swamp Sparrow, Tricolored Heron
And we also saw a lot of Alligators, several Marsh Rabbits, and a turtle.
Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my blog! Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, go out photographing – with a friend!
I was browsing through my photo archives last week and came across an unprocessed RAW image of an American Avocet and its reflection. I thought it had potential so I went ahead and worked on it.
I made this in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge on March 3, 2015. It got me thinking – I know, proceed with caution, right?
The last time I was over there, I spent a few minutes talking to someone and he mentioned that there are fewer birds there now than there used to be. I hear comments like that a lot when when I’m out photographing. I couldn’t recall the last time I’d seen an Avocet but I knew it’d been a while. Maybe there are fewer of them around. When I went back into my archives in Lightroom, it turned out my most recent photo of one is from January of 2021.
I don’t see too many of them, and they’re distinctive enough that I’m sure I’d notice them if they were there. But my data is sparse and can’t really say if these birds are getting less frequent around here. So how can I tell?
I’ve mentioned eBird.org before. It’s managed by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and collects data on bird sightings from all over the world to “document distribution, abundance, habitat use, and trends”. Maybe if we look there we can see if there are fewer Avocets now at MINWR.
Then you can select different metrics and date ranges. I chose to look at the “Totals” tab, which is the “sum total of all counts from all observations for a species within a specified date range and region”. I picked two date ranges: 2007 – 2014, and 2015 – 2022 to compare and see if I could tell if there are fewer avocets now than when I first started going over to MINWR.
This seems to say there are about twice as many American Avocets seen at MINWR recently than there used to be. But… it isn’t normalized to account for the increased reporting by more birders as time goes on. So I don’t think these numbers are an accurate representation of the number of Avocets actually there. Is there a way to determine the accurate numbers? Sorry – I couldn’t find one. But I’ll keep looking and let you know.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some bird photos now – in case their are fewer opportunities in the future.
I complained a bit about our weather last week, and I do think we’ve been getting more than our normal share of clouds and rain. It doesn’t seem right though to grumble about a few gloomy days here in Central Florida when conditions in some other parts of the country and world are bad or worse.
Anyway, it isn’t quite “Nothing but blue skies do I see” around here, but we have had some very nice days recently. This week I’ll just show you a few photos of “Blue skies smiling at me” to prove it.
Trumpet Trees (Tabebuia) are plain most of the year. In the spring, they burst with blooms for a couple of weeks. The trees in the next two photos are already blending back into the landscape.
Pink Trumpet Tree
Yellow Trumpet Tree
Ball Moss and Ferns
Here’s one last image. It’s not “Blue birds singing a song” but I feel like this blackbird was enjoying the blue skies as much as I was.
Thanks for stopping by and looking at my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, enjoy some blue skies photography.