Category Archives: Miscellanious

Bird Sound Wizardry

“Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”

Arthur C. Clarke

The wizards at the Cornell Lab of Ornithology have cast some potent spells with the latest update to their free Merlin Bird ID app.

I’ve had it on my iPhone for ages (it’s also available for Android). But I got used to the iBird app (http://ibird.com) and I normally open it for help with bird identification – so Merlin’s been sitting around idle. It wasn’t until last week that I heard about the new sound ID feature they added in June.

Sound ID records bird songs around you, analyzes them, and suggests IDs for what’s singing. You can compare the recording to other songs and calls for confirmation. It’s also a great way to learn bird calls. Hearing some, and then having the app tell you what they are in real time is great re-enforcement and helps you remember what you’ve heard. Sounds too good to be true, doesn’t it?

I updated the app and tried it out yesterday on a trip over to MINWR. I simply held it out, watched the waveforms record and the results as they came up magically on my screen. Here’s a screenshot:

I used it several times and it found Black-necked Stilts, Red-winged Blackbirds, Least Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, Eastern Kingbirds, Ospreys, and Mourning Doves. Most of them before I ever saw the birds. When the Eastern Kingbird ID popped up, I started looking for them and spotted this one perched briefly on a distant branch:

Eastern Kingbird Eastern Kingbird

Since it told me Stilts and Yellowlegs were around, I could keep an eye out for them too.

Black-necked Stilt Black-necked Stilt

Greater Yellowlegs Greater Yellowlegs

I was surprised by how sensitive the recordings are. It heard most all the calls that I did, and it seems accurate, at least in this short test.

There are 458 birds in the Sound ID list and more are promised. Cornell Labs has done some fine work with this. I think it’ll be very helpful to me in the future. If you’re at all interested in birds or birding, it belongs on your phone too! Did I mention that it’s free?

Header image: A pair of bunnies I also photographed yesterday. No, Merlin didn’t pull them out of a hat. That would’ve been very advanced technology! Full image at https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/51363803209/in/dateposted-public/

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Covid cases in Florida are still at an all time high. Be careful out there and please take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, photograph (and ID) some birds!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

One Year Later

Last March at the beginning of the pandemic, I wrote a post called “In the Neighborhood“. It was just a few photos I made as Lynn and I walked cautiously around near home while we tried to figure out the whole lockdown thing.

I don’t really have any profound thoughts I want to share about what we’ve been through since then. I’ll just say I’m extremely grateful we have smart scientists that created safe and effective vaccines in so short a time, and that they’re becoming available to more of us each day. Things seem to be veering back toward normal now.

Anyway, I thought this week I’d follow up with more neighborhood wandering, and post photos of things I noticed on the way. I’ll try to include tips and hints that you can use in your photograpy. This first image looks like an infrared photo, but it’s not. The bright white leaves are from the low morning sun lighting the tops of the trees.

All to myself All to myself

We have several varieties of flowering trees here in Central Florida. They only bloom for a short while in the spring so don’t wait too long if you want to photograph them. These lovely blooms are on what I think are Hong Kong Orchid trees, I find it hard to show the beauty with an image of the whole tree, so I moved in close. I like this frame with a single flower isolated against the sky.

Flower and sky Flower and sky

Slow shutter speeds are commonly used for images of moving water. But forcing your shutter as fast as possible is also worth trying. The details it can reveal make the water look like ice.

Splash Frozen Splash

The early morning sun helps in this photo too. Its warm color on the Spanish Moss is a subtle contrast with the sky.

Branches and moss Branches and moss

Okay, a little fun here. I might have made a few small creative enhancements in Lightroom to bring out the hidden scarecrow face.

Knot Knot a Scarecrow

New growth leaves are sometimes called fiddlehead ferns since they resemble the scroll on a fiddle. They’re hard to spot as you walk by.

Fern Fern

More tiny, close wildflower blooms.

Blossom Blossom

The woods are very thick around this pool. It’s only a few feet from the sidewalk and looks like it’s been there for many years. I need to be more observant – I only just noticed it even though I’ve passed by it for years. It’s a three frame vertical stitched panorama.

Forest Pool Forest Pool

I crouched down and used the camera’s tilting LCD to frame these cypress knees against the lake in the background. This is a 7 frame focus stack. If you haven’t tried focus stacking, a web search will return lots of info.

Cypress Knees Cypress Knees

This last one is also a focus stacked image of some blooms along a trail in Central Winds Park. (Edit: They’re Carolina Yellow-eyed Grass – thanks Dorothy C.)

Wildflowers Wildflowers.

So that’s some of what I saw on photo walks over the last week or so. I hope you enjoyed looking at them and I hope they give you some ideas to try. Thanks again for coming back and and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some photos around your neighborhood!

Header image: Down low and close to Howell Creek in Winter Springs.

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Good Morning

I hope you don’t mind a short post today. I’ve just recovered from a sore throat and laryngitis that I somehow caught in spite of all our pandemic precautions. It wasn’t serious and I’m feeling fine now, but I didn’t get a chance to go on any photo excursions last week.

Anyway, I made this image about a month ago in a favorite spot along the Indian River in Titusville.

It was a good morning It was a good morning

It’s on the western shore, just south of Veterans Memorial Park. The light was changing that morning and I managed to make several photos that I like. For this one, I exposed one frame for the foreground and bracketed three more for the sky. I adjusted them in Lightroom and merged all four manually in Photoshop.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And when you can – make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Happy Valentine’s Day

Years ago, Lynn brought a few ferns back from her mother’s home over in Bartow, Florida and transplanted them into our back garden. Since then, they’ve thrived, and a few usually even grow on our brick fence. We noticed last weekend that they’d arranged themselves into a very nice message appropriate for today’s holiday.

Happy Valentine's Day Ferns in a Valentine’s Day arrangement on our backyard fence.

I’m a bit unsure if they didn’t get the “E” done in time, or if maybe they were going for the colloquial “LUV”. Anyway, this isn’t photoshopped and unless there’s a stealth gardener we didn’t notice sneaking into our back yard, these ferns grew this way naturally. The odds of something like this happening spontaneously have to be vanishingly small. Maybe it’s more likely nature is trying to send us a message?

Peace and ‘Lov’ to all of you gentle readers. Thanks for stopping by my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And today, cherish your valentine!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved