The sky was pretty cloudy when I first went out, but by the time we arrived it was starting to clear up. There was still enough color left to get a few good photos. In this one, I like the way the light on the walk draws my eye to the bottom left and then the rail and the jetty lead to the sun rays coming up from below the horizon.
A little later, I noticed this boat speeding around the inlet, sometimes with flashing lights and a siren and wondered what was going on.
The Coast Guard patrols: This small Coast Guard patrol boat was very active.
I should have realized what was happening before I saw this next boat coming out of the inlet:
On the way out: Close up of a ballistic missile submarine leaving Port Canaveral, Florida. The presence of bow planes instead of sail planes show that this is a British boat, the HMS Vigilant.
This was pretty exciting for me. Many years ago, after college, I was in the Navy and served aboard a sub like this one. Just before I got out, I was stationed at the Naval Ordinance Test Unit at Cape Canaveral. After submarines go through refit, the Navy sends them down to NOTU for a missile test. They load a special dummy warhead missile and then test fire it down range from the Atlantic off the Cape. The tall mast behind the sail is added to transmit instrumentation data during launch while the sub is submerged.
We watched the boat turn south after leaving the inlet, and rushed to set up our cameras for a photo as it sailed under the sun.
Submarine sunrise: This is a unique Florida sunrise scene: The British Trident ballistic missile submarine HMS Vigilant leaves Port Canaveral, Florida just after dawn.
We hung around for a while after this to photograph shorebirds including Brown Pelicans, Gulls, Black Skimmers, Terns, and others. But the highlight of the trip for me was the sub. As a former submariner, it brought back a lot of memories and I really enjoyed the show. Quite a bonus for getting up early!
10/31/12 update: The HMS Vigilant successfully launched a Trident II D5 missile on 23 October. Read more here.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Dawn yesterday was nothing to get up for – cloudy, dim, no color. But we were up and out, so I made a photograph anyway.
That taken care of, I switched cameras and used the Sigma 150-500mm to scout shorebirds. There were many Gulls (Laughing, Ring-Billed, Herring), Pelicans and Black Vultures, a few Royal Terns, Black Skimmers, Ruddy Turnstones, Sanderlings, Northern Mockingbirds, and Ospreys, and a Reddish Egret, and Snowy Egret. I also saw a couple of Hawks and was puzzled by the look of this one that flew over the jetty and out into the inlet until I got home and did some research. I’ve never seen a Peregrine Falcon in the wild before yesterday!
Reddish Egret in the surf – quite a “do”
By the time we moved up the coast to MINWR, it was a bit brighter and the conditions were better for photography. We’d heard about a sighting of a Redhead duck and wanted to see if we could find it. We came across it about half way round the drive on the right hand side swimming with several other ducks. I think it’s amazing how a few bits of data over the internet can lead to sighting a semi-rare (for Florida) bird. With so much information available it’s a great time to enjoy this kind of thing.
Other birds we saw on BPWD: American Avocets, Common Snipe, Lesser Yellowlegs, American Robins, Roseate Spoonbills, Gulls, Belted Kingfishers, Northern Harrier, Northern Shovelers, Coots, Greebes, Green Wing Teals, Great Blue Herons, Little Blue Herons, Tri-colored Herons, Snowy Egrets, Reddish Egrets, Great Egrets, and others.
Once again, a wonderful day outside in our natural Florida paradise.
We had another very nice photo outing last weekend. We stopped first at Jetty Park in Cocoa for sunrise and to check out the shore birds. It was quite cold (for Florida) – about 32 degrees F with a 15 – 20 mph wind – brisk! We saw Brown Pelicans, Northern Gannets, Ruddy Turnstones, Royal Terns, and several types of gulls.
Dawn at Jetty Park: There wasn’t a lot of color in the sky, but I still like how this turned out
Next we went by the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge (East Gator Road, Black Point Wildlife Drive, Scrub Ridge Trail, and the visitor’s center). MINWR continues to have large numbers and many types of birds. We saw several unusual ones (a Sora, Clapper Rail, Eastern Meadowlark) and many of the regular visitors (Redwing Blackbirds, Norther Pintails, Northern Shovelers, Ring Neck Ducks, Blue Wing Teals, Redish Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Tri-color Herons, Little Blue Herons, Little Egrets, Great Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, Coots, Morehens, etc.).
Male Northern Pintail
There were disappointments at a few of the normal spots: The Great Horned Owl wasn’t on its nest, the Painted Buntings weren’t at the Visitor Center, and there weren’t any Florida Scrub Jays on Scrub Ridge Trail. But there weren’t any mosquitoes there either!
Jetty Park and MINWR are fantastic places to visit and very active now. If you haven’t been recently, go! You can see more photos I’ve made at these places here, here, and here.
Happy New Year! Back to basics with my first post of 2012: A photo-op review.
When I was in the Navy, I was stationed at the Naval Ordinance Test Unit at Cape Canaveral for a while – so I’m familiar with the port and Jetty Park. But I’d never really investigated it as a photo-op. I had some time last week, and decided to visit.
Jetty Park is located on the south side of Port Canaveral in Brevard County. Depending on where you leave from, it’s a little over an hour from Orlando, basically a straight line along the Beachline Expressway (528 toll road). In addition to the jetty and 1200 foot fishing pier, there’s also a 120+ site campground and beach (with lifeguard) at the park.
Info for Photographers
The rocks, pier and seaside vegetation can provide some interesting foreground for sunrise landscapes.
The sun rises every morning…But no one know what it will look like. This was the view before dawn from the beach at Jetty Park.
You can also see a variety of shore birds. I saw Brown Pelicans, Northern Gannets, Ruddy Turnstones, Royal Terns, various Seagulls and others that I haven’t identified yet.
A place like this is also great for practicing your BIF (birds in flight) techniques. Pelicans make especially good subjects, since they tend to glide in a predictable straight line, but other birds are also flying in and around (see the last photo, below).
No restrictions, so bring yours and use it.
This will depend on your subject. I used my tripod mounted Nikon 16 – 35mm f/4 VR Wide angle for landscapes and sunrise. When the light got a little better, I switched to hand holding my Sigma 150 – 500mm f/6.3 for birds. You can get up close to some of the birds, so a shorter telephoto might come in handy too. For example, this Brown Pelican wouldn’t fit in the field of view at 500mm. Since the bird was so still, I made a multi-shot panorama. I like to use this technique when I can since the result can be a higher resolution image (this one is 18.5 Megapixels, un-cropped).
Best time to visit:
Day visitor hours are 7am to dusk. Take this into account if you’re planning to make some sunrise photos. I didn’t and the morning I went, sunrise was at 7:15. I arrived about 6:45 and the gate was still closed, so I drove around a bit to see if there was somewhere else to make a sunrise photo (I didn’t find one). When I returned at about 6:55 they were unlocking it. I had less time than I wanted to find a good spot and setup, but I did manage to get some photos I like.
Winter is probably a good time of year to go. It’ll be less crowded (with people) and more crowded (with birds). Many of the birds could be winter visitors too.
Northern Gannet in flight: This Pelagic species is a winter migrant to the waters off of the Florida coast.
There’s a $10 per day usage / parking fee.
The morning I was there I saw a young man land a large fish from the end of the pier. This might be a good place to combine your interest in fishing, camping and the beach with a photo side excursion.
There’s a lot of shipping activity at the port. Cruise ships and fishing boats enter and leave regularly. I think you can still occasionally see a submarine that’s visiting too.
Jetty park is close to both Viera Wetlands and Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. If you have time for a little longer trip, you could combine a visit here with a second stop at one of those places. The morning I went, I also stopped by Viera to see what was going on there.
I added a few birds to my life list and a few photos I really like to my archives. You can too. Check out the other photos I made there in this set on Flickr. Let me know how your visit to the park goes.