Category Archives: INSIDE FLORIDA

Neighborhood Kites

Swallow-tailed Kites

I was getting a little exercise on a morning walk last Wednesday when I noticed some birds in the distance soaring on a thermal. As I got closer I could tell they were Swallow-tailed Kites.

I always enjoy seeing these birds. They’re very distinctive and watching them use their tails as a rudder to swoop, glide, roll, and zoom through the sky is fascinating. They migrate about 5000 miles from South America and arrive in Florida in the spring, spending several months here to breed and then returning south in the late summer.

It’s not uncommon to see them in my neighborhood, and even over my house. But they always appear when I’m not ready to photograph them. This time was no different. The only camera I had with me was my phone and I was sure they’d be gone by the time I could get home and get my big lens out. As I got closer, the birds circled lower in the sky and I decided to try making some photos anyway.

Swallow-tailed Kites circling overhead in our neighborhoodSwallow-tailed Kites circling overhead in our neighborhood (click on the photo to see a larger version on Flickr)

I used the built in camera app with the 3x lens (50mm equivalent) and the output set to RAW mode. I made about 30 frames, hoping some would turn out.

I went through them when I got home and picked the best ones to process. Most of the rejects were due to framing, exposure, or chromatic aberrations / fringing. Their colors make them hard to expose correctly and the white feathers were blown out in many of the frames. There was very distracting blue / purple fringing along wing edges in the ones that were made at f/1.8. The f/2.8 ones didn’t have that issue. This left me with just a handful of images to process.

I ran them through Adobe’s “Enhance / Super Resolution” and used masks and subject and sky selections to make local adjustments. I also set the sharpening to zero in Lightroom and used Topaz Sharpen AI as a last step.

A couple turned out OK, but I really wish I’d had my big lens with me!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – make some photos, even if all you have is your phone camera!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Perseverance

This is the best photo I’ve been able to make of a Northern Flicker.

Flickr FlickerNorthern 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!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Venus and the Moon Over the Marsh

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 MarshVenus 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.

The St. Johns is the longest river in Florida and there are a huge number of scenic photo ops along its 310 mile length. I’ve collected a few of my photos of it in various spots. You can view them in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157624991879878. And you can see some associated blog posts at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/st-johns-river/.

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!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Glad I Stayed!

There’s a fenced lot near the NW corner of the A. Max Brewer Memorial Parkway and County Road 3 in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. An old utility pole there has a nesting platform near the top. I’ve seen Great Horned Owls and Ospreys using the box before: (https://edrosack.com/2015/01/11/merritt-island-national-wildlife-refuge-172015/).

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.

Nesting Ospreys 1 of 6: Mom and two chicksMomma* 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:

Nesting Ospreys 2 of 6: Dad brings home the groceriesDad 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:

Nesting Ospreys 3 of 6: Since Dad's back, Mom leaves on an errandSince 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:

Nesting Ospreys 4 of 6: Mom returns with a stick to repair the nestMomma 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.

Nesting Ospreys 5 of 6: Mom carefully lands back at the nest with her stickMomma carefully lands back at the nest with her stick

Which she moved into place to repair the flaw she’d found.

Nesting Ospreys 6 of 6: Mom patching the nestMomma 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!

*I’m not an expert when it comes to telling male and female Ospreys apart. But I think I’ve got it right in this post based on behavior and markings. See this link for some more info: https://hawkwatch.org/blog/item/1016-telling-osprey-sexes


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!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved


Orlando Museum of Art

We went by the Orlando Museum of Art last Monday to see Clyde Butcher’s “Cathedrals of Florida Exhibit”. Here are a few photos from our visit.

Clyde Butcher's Cathedrals of Florida ExhibitClyde Butcher’s Cathedrals of Florida Exhibit, in the J. Hyde Crawford and Anthony Tortora Gallery

The large black and white prints were once again wonderful. He does a masterful job making the photo and then making the very large prints.

There are other things to see there too. For instance:

Sculpture and SkylightSculpture and Skylight. Dale Chichuly blown glass artwork

Spouted Fish VesselSpouted Fish Vessel, Nasca, 200 CE – 500 CE, South Coast, Peru, Ceramic

Soundsuit, 2011.Soundsuit, 2011, Nick Cave

And I didn’t make any photos of them, but Lynn and I both found Jimm Roberts’ portraits very interesting.

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!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

First flight?

Robert Wilson and I watched and photographed at this nesting tree for a couple of hours on our April 18th trip to Centennial Park in Holly Hill.

Nesting tree panoNesting tree pano

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?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!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Busy Birds

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 :

Four or five nestsLake 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.

Great Blue Heron and chick(?)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 OspreysWinter 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.

Osprey gathering nesting materialThis Centennial Park Osprey was gathering nesting material.

Nesting treeAnother 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.

Hungry youngsterHere’s a close up of the Anhiga nest in the tree above. Dad is feeding his very hungry youngster.

A stick for the nestThis 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!

Nesting Yellow-crowned Night HeronA 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!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Mead Gardens (3-29-22)

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:

Marsh RabbitAn Easter Bunny

And this pond always makes for a nice photo:

Pretty light on a placid pondPretty 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:

Great Crested Flycatcher (?)

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.

You can look through my (sparse) posts about Mead Gardens at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/winter-park/mead-gardens/. And I’ve collected Mead Gardens photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157633035986416.

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!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Stroll in the Dark

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 BuildingColony 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 nightBright 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.

Almost emptyAlmost empty

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 trainVery 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.

You can review my other posts about Winter Park here: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/winter-park/. And you can view other photos from there in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157636838442164/with/10424895284/.

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!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

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!

Least BitternLeast Bittern

I don’t see Perigrines very often. It was way off in the distance but I managed to get an image ‘for the record’.

Perigrine FalconPerigrine Falcon

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.

Northern HarrierRed-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.

Snacking MoorhenSnacking Moorhen

Purple Gallinules seem to like Lake Apopka.

Purple GallinulePurple Gallinule

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.

Grey-headed SwamphenGrey-headed Swamphen

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.

Black-crowned Night-HeronBlack-crowned Night-Heron

And finally, here’s a landscape photo of the pump house. I think the clouds we’d worried about add a lot of interest.

The PumphouseThe Pumphouse

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.

If you click on these photos, you can view higher resolution versions on Flickr. And I have many more images from Lake Apopka in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157656060310175/with/24168732782/

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!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved