Category Archives: INSIDE FLORIDA

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive – 13 December 2019

If you’ve been a photographer for any length of time, you might be familiar with “new gear jinx”.  It seems whenever we get new photo equipment, the weather turns bad for a while so we can’t use it.

The day was a little dreary and the light was dimThe day was dreary and the light was dim.  Lots of clouds, some fog and haze, and rain later in the morning.

Kevin M. and I both wanted to try out some new gear and in spite of the poor weather we’ve had lately, decided to defy the jinx and venture out to Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive on Friday morning.  I’m very glad we did.  Here’s some of what we saw.

Fulvous Whistling-duckFulvous Whistling-duck.  There were quite a few.  I’d never seen one before, so this was a great addition to my life-list.  Thanks Kevin!

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat.  I posted a photo of one a few weeks ago, but this bird is much more colorful.

American BitternAmerican Bittern – in their classic frozen statue pose.  It eventually realized we could see it anyway and left.  By then, I wasn’t paying attention and missed the flight shot.

Eastern PhoebeEastern Phoebe. This must be a young one – it hasn’t learned to hide from photographers behind twigs and branches yet.

Black-crowned Night-Heron in flightBlack-crowned Night-Heron in flight.  We saw 4 or 5 of these on Friday.  They’ve been on Black Point Wildlife Drive too and  seem more common than usual this year.

There were hundreds (maybe thousands) of birds on the water – I haven’t seen that many in a long while.  Lots of coots, but also Redheads, Northern Shovelers, Blue-wing Teals, and Black-bellied Whistling Ducks too – among others.  We also saw a few alligators, all the other usual wading / water birds along with an occasional Belted Kingfisher, one young Bald Eagle, Red-winged Blackbirds, many Red-shoulder Hawks, and even one fast flying snipe.

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive undoubtedly lives up to its name.  If you’re planning to go, it’s usually open Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays, and federal holidays between sunrise and sunset. That poor light on Friday was a good test of our new gear but I ended up with a lot of photos I like.   I think we broke the jinx!

You can look through my blog posts about this wonderful place at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/lake-apopka/.  And I’ve collected images from there in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157656060310175.  Also please click on the photos in these blog posts to view them in higher resolution on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos -even when the weather’s dreary!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Look in the mirror

Generally (and especially in Florida) clouds are good for landscape photos.  And when  water is part of your composition (like it often is here), wind can add interesting motion effects to longer exposures. If you can’t use those two elements in your images, can you still make landscapes?  Of course, but you may need to use mirrors!

Mangrove Mirror 1Mangrove Mirror 1.  Infrared, Olympus HiRes mode.

Our winter weather fronts bring cooler temperatures and often very clear skies to Central Florida.  And winds can be especially calm in the early morning.  When I run into situations like this, I don’t put my camera away.  Instead I watch for mangrove trees and other reflections.

Mangrove Mirror 2Mangrove Mirror 2.  Infrared, Olympus HiRes mode.

Compositions that minimize the sky and maximize the patterns their branches and roots make in the glassy water appeal to me.

Mangrove Mirror 3Mangrove Mirror 3

How do you approach landscape photography at daybreak, when the wind is dead calm and the clouds are few and far away?

You can view many more of my Florida Landscape images in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157646280743144.  And please click on the photos in these blog posts to view them in higher resolution on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos, and don’t forget to look in the mirror!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A few bird photos

I’ve been wanting to go back to Viera Wetlands.  When I called their hotline Friday night, it said the roads are closed to vehicles.  I think this is old info, but I didn’t want to drive all the way there to check.  So I went to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge instead on Saturday morning.  Here are a few photos from the trip.

Hooded Mergansers were there on our last visit.  This time they were close enough for a photo.

Hoodie Hoodie

There was a large group of birds feeding on minnows in one small pond by Black Point Wildlife Drive (yes – the Drive is open again – yay!).  It was very close to the road with an unobstructed view – an excellent photo op!

Snowy Egret and minnowSnowy Egret with a minnow

Since I sold a portion of my Olympus gear early this year and bought the Sony A7R3,  I’ve been using it for landscapes and portraits – I don’t have a birding lens for it but I’ve wondered how it would do.  Yesterday’s  close-up feeding frenzy was a perfect opportunity to try it.  After I made some images with the Olympus, I pulled out the Sony with the 24 -105mm lens mounted and made several more photos.  I really liked how well it worked – especially the autofocus.  Here’s a sample.

Little Blue Heron in flightLittle Blue Heron in flight

On the way out, I saw this winter visitor walking toward a notch in the sand along the river.  I crouched down low and waited for it to frame itself.  I’m pretty sure it’s a Sanderling, although I’d welcome other opinions.

“The Sanderling is one of the world’s most widespread shorebirds. Though they nest only in the High Arctic, in fall and winter you can find them on nearly all temperate and tropical sandy beaches throughout the world. The Ruddy Turnstone and the Whimbrel are the only other shorebirds that rival its worldwide distribution.” – Cornell Lab, All About Birds

Sanderling through the sandSanderling through the sand

I visit MINWR a lot.  But it never disappoints me.  What a treasure!

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Point Wildlife Drive Status

When I wrote last Sunday’s blog post, I wasn’t aware that Black Point Wildlife Drive would be closed  from Monday, Nov. 18 through Saturday, Nov. 23, 2019.  Also – BioLab remains closed until damage from hurricane Dorian is repaired.

A little stormyA little stormy

If you’re planning a trip to MINWR, please check their website before you go for any other updates: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/Merritt_Island/

Many thanks to Wally Jones for pointing this out, and I’m very sorry for any confusion!

Ed

MINWR – 11/10/19

I went over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last Sunday with Kevin M.  If you’ve been waiting for our winter visitor bird friends to show up – they’re here!

We first stopped by the Titusville marina for a few blue hour / sunrise photos.  In the original color version of this one, the orange reflections in the water from the streetlights along the shore didn’t mix well with the blue water and sky in the distance.  A B&W conversion eliminated that problem and I like the result.

Marina at dawnMarina at dawn

Kingfishers were abundant and even a bit cooperative.  This one rested on a dead tree for me.

Belted KingfisherBelted Kingfisher

And another even waited until I had my camera all ready and focused on it before it took off!  You can view a short video time lapse of that at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/49052297597/in/dateposted/

Other winter birds we saw:  American Avocets, Blue-winged Teals, Northern Flickers, Northern Shovelers, a Northern Harrier, Tree Swallows, Common Yellowthroats, and Palm Warblers.  The ducks weren’t plentiful yet, but I’m sure more are on the way!

Our year round birds competed for attention by posing in very nice light.

Reddish EgretReddish Egret in warm morning light

Egret and reflectionEgret and reflection

Great Blue HeronHeron in flight

And we also managed to find a Florida Scrub Jay along the entrance road to Canaveral National Seashore for Kevin’s list this year.  So once again a wonderful visit to MINWR.  You should go!

I’ve put many more of my images from Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157627776386723.  And please click on the photos in these blog posts to view them in higher resolution on Flickr.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Veterans Day 2019

Monday is the 11th day of the 11th month, when here in the US we pause to honor the service and sacrifice of all our current and former military personnel. To our veterans and those serving today – you have our deepest gratitude.

This year, in a special tribute to the men and women who gave their lives during the Vietnam War (and all veterans), the City of Sanford and Seminole County Florida have arranged for a replica of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Wall to visit Fort Mellon Park by the waterfront in Sanford.

Travelling Vietnam Memorial WallTravelling Vietnam Memorial Wall

I’ve been to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington DC and posted about it before here and here.  The wall includes over 58,000 names of people who died in that conflict. It’s a powerful, emotional experience and the traveling wall replicates that power.

Travelling Vietnam Memorial WallTravelling Vietnam Memorial Wall

It’ll be open 24 hours a day through Veterans Day, 11 November.  A visit is one way to honor  and remember veterans.

“There are no noble wars, just noble warriors.”

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Now – go thank a veteran!

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black and White Backlog

I make a lot of photographs – you may not have been able to tell  ;-).  And I have many that I like that never get into the blog.  So this week I’m going to post a handful of B&W images from around Central Florida that I think are worth seeing.  I hope you like them too.  Not many words this morning.  I’ll let the photos speak for themselves.

Lake Apopka PumphousePump house, Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

St. Augustine Cathedral InteriorCathedral Interior, St. Augustine

Cypress standCypress stand, Orlando Wetlands

Quiet morningQuiet morning, Merritt Island NWR

Along Bobcat TrailSunrise Along Bobcat Trail, Orlando Wetlands

Tranquil mornTranquil morn, Orlando Wetlands

As always, click to view larger on Flickr, and you can see many more of my monochrome photos in this folder.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Orlando Wetlands 10-25-19

There’s a lot going on at this city run park out in Christmas, Florida.  I needed steps last Friday, so I got up early and took a walk. Hours are “Sunrise to Sunset”, but generally the gate is open about a half hour before sunrise.  Plenty of time to catch some good light.

Marsh, moon, and sun raysMarsh, moon, and sun rays

The quantity and variety of wildlife is remarkable.  I’ve seen occasional deer, bobcat, raccoons, and otters in the past – and alligators and our common wading birds are plentiful.  Winter migrants are also arriving.

Eastern PhoebeEastern Phoebe (winter visitor)

Savannah SparrowSavannah Sparrow (winter visitor)

Other migrants I came across included Belted Kingfishers, Black-necked Stilts, and Palm Warblers.

Spoonbills have been numerous there in recent years, but I only saw one this time.  Maybe more will show as we get closer to springtime.

Spoonbill Spoonbill

There were other unusual things too:

Pie Billed Grebe and crayfishPie Billed Grebe and crayfish

I noticed this Grebe surface with what I thought was a fish. But when I got a better look I could tell it was a large crayfish.  It had a precarious hold at first.  As I watched for about a minute, it adjusted its grip and eventually swallowed the whole thing. The crayfish looked bigger than the bird’s head!

Other birds I spotted:  Black Bellied Whistling ducks, Mottled Ducks, Coots, Common Gallinules, Red-shouldered Hawks, Sand Hill Cranes, Limpkins, Wood Storks, juvenile and adult Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Snowy and Great Egrets, Common Yellowthroats, Red-winged Blackbirds, Glossy and White Ibis, Anhingas, Black Vultures, and I’m sure others I missed.

There are on-going or planned projects that’ll make this park even better.  They’re currently “demucking” cell 13 (far corner from the entrance).  And they’ve prepared a site for a new visitor center at the first corner as you hike north from the entrance.  I’m also looking forward to new vantage points a future boardwalk over lake Searcy should provide.

If you take a look at all the posts I’ve written about it, you’ll probably be able to tell that Orlando Wetlands is one of my favorite places . If you haven’t been, go.  It’s a Central Florida Photo Ops “must do”!  You can see more of my photos from there in this album on Flickr.   And this Flickr group will show you other folks photos.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Daybreak, Bobcat, Boar, and More

In the USA, the second full week of October each year is National Wildlife Refuge Week.  I visited my local refuge last Thursday to help celebrate.

Moonlit marsh 1Moonlit marsh

I decided to go straight to Black Point Wildlife Drive to photograph sunrise.  The gate was still closed when I arrived, so I set up by the sign at the entrance and made the image above. The wind was blowing and I like the surreal appearance of the clouds, moonlight,  and stars visible in the full res version.

This was the view a little later from the parking area at the southwest corner of the drive:

Golden Golden

And here’s a monochrome infrared photo along the western side of Black Point.  I like the low sun angle and clouds.

Out early on a straight roadOut early on a straight road

You might be able to tell from these three photos that I was the first and only one on Black Point Wildlife Drive that morning – which led to the next situation.  I stopped at the rest area and got out to scout around.  There’s a small observation deck there at the start of Cruickshank trail and as I was just coming off the path to go up the short boardwalk, I heard a noise and then saw a very healthy looking Bobcat jump over the rail and disappear into the vegetation.  Even though I had my camera in my hands, set up and ready – I was way too slow to get a photo.

I’ve come across Bobcats several times in the wild.  Usually when they see me, they fade away quickly and it’s hard to get a photo.  This time was unusual – I wasn’t trying to be super quiet, I can only guess it was catnapping and didn’t notice me at first, or it was hoping I wouldn’t come its way so it could stay comfortable.

I’m sorry I didn’t get the photo for you on Thursday and I know you’re disappointed.  So here’s a previously un-published one from March 2017 from very near the same area.  It’s typical of the brief and poor look I normally get of Bobcats:

Bobcat Bobcat

Feral pigs in MINWR aren’t as shy as Bobcats.  They typically go about their business when I see them.  This one stared me down and when it was sure I was going to stay put, continued across the road – hackles raised.  It too quickly disappeared into the undergrowth.

Young wild boarYoung wild boar

One more picture to close this out – from the boat launch area at Parrish Park:

#53#53 – A banded Ruddy Turnstone

I had an exciting day at Merritt Island.  Although the winter birds aren’t back in force yet, The Ruddy Turnstones and skittish Belted Kingfishers I saw are migrants – a good sign.

I have many more images from Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157627776386723.  And you can click on almost all of the photos on my blog to view them in much higher resolution on Flickr.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Sunflower Scouting Report

I hiked out into the Marl Bed Flats part of the Lake Jesup Conservation Area yesterday morning (10/4/19) to visit the swamp sunflower fields that grow wild along HW 417 north of Lake Jesup for a few weeks this time of year.

One more Swamp Sunflower imageSwamp Sunflower panorama

I left a little late because I don’t really like to go out there in the dark.  I’ve never had any issues though, so just be careful if you do go before or after it’s light (official hours are “Dawn to Dusk”).  There were two cars already there when I arrived and the gate into the larger parking area was closed.  Parking could be tight at the end of the road – hopefully there will be plenty of room if you visit.  I met one of the other photographers on my way in.

Swamp SunflowerInfrared Swamp Sunflower

There’s a PDF trail map you can download and print out or look at on your phone.  I do get a good cell phone signal out there (on AT&T).

We haven’t had much rain recently, so both the red and yellow trails are dry and clear until you get out to the flowers. The flowers are in great shape although they didn’t seem as dense as I’ve seen them in other years – they may still be filling in. The ground in the fields is damp in spots but not very muddy in the areas I went through. I didn’t have any problems with bugs but I used insect spray before hand.

Swamp SunflowerSwamp Sunflower

If you’re interested, there’s a lot of coverage on the web and you can find  info in my posts at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/lake-jesup/sunflowers/.   You can also see more of my swamp sunflower photos in this album on Flickr.

Right now is a great time for a visit and I think the flowers will last for at least another week or so.  You’ll get a little exercise and you’ll witness a wonderful Florida nature spectacle!  Take water, bug spray, etc. and watch out for snakes and other wild animals.  It is a wilderness area!

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved