Category Archives: Florida

A Marvelous Morning

We organized a photo expedition to Viera Wetlands yesterday.  I went with Kevin K., Kevin M., and Tom M.  We tried a new sunrise location, Alan Shepard Park, right on the beach in Cocoa where SR 520 ends.  Even though we got blocked by a train stuck on the tracks and a closed parking lot, we made it in time for the show.  I was also worried that there wouldn’t be much color, but Mother Nature rewarded our efforts.

On the beachOn the beach

There were a lot of shore birds on the beach with us. I have several more images to process with them in the foreground.

Our next stop was the wetlands, and this trip demonstrated the advantages of having extra eyeballs to help search for things.  We went right by this Bittern until Tom saw it and got us to stop. They’re pretty reliable in the winter at Viera, but they’re hard to see sometimes.  Their standard behavior is to freeze in the grass / reeds and try to blend in.  They don’t spook very easy, so you can get fairly close without bothering them.

American Bittern in the grassAmerican Bittern in the grass

A little further on, Kevin M. called out a Snipe he spotted.  It was on the opposite side of the car, so I got out quietly and snuck around.  It took me a bit to see it even though it was only a few feet away.  This one was pretty calm and let us photograph for several minutes.  They’re small and usually skittish.  And they fly erratically, so they’re usually hard to photograph.  Again, though they seem to like to stop by Viera in the winter.

Wilson's Snipe in the grassWilson’s Snipe in the grass

Belted Kingfishers are also common around Florida in the winter.  If you’ve ever seen one of these, you know how hard it can be to photograph them.  You’ll see them perched on a branch and as soon as you try to get closer or even point your lens toward them, they take off and move further away.  This one was more tolerant than usual and I was able to get set for it to leave.  But I was over conservative with my zoom  and left too much  room in the frame.  I did catch it, and even though it’s a little small, it’s one of my best flight shots of one.  But I’ll have to keep trying.

Belted Kingfisher in flightBelted Kingfisher in flight

We spotted Red-winged Blackbirds, Black Crowned Night Herons, Little Blue Herons, Tri-colored Herons, Green Herons, Egrets, a hawk, Grebes, Morehens, a juvenile Purple Galinule, and Ring Necked Ducks.  And Kevin M. also called out a Ruddy Duck – which was a life bird for me but in very poor light, so I won’t post it here.  Kevin K. was the first to spot a herd of deer (well four of them at least) – which I don’t see very often there.  Great Blue Herons, Anhingas, Sand Hill Cranes, and Cormorants are all nesting now too.

So it was a marvelous morning.  Great weather, scenery, bird watching, photography, and friends.  Much better than sleeping in!

Please click on the images above to see a larger version on Flickr.  And you can see many more of my photos from Viera Wetlands in this Flickr album.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Football

Last Sunday (12/31) marked the end of the Buccaneers football season.  They went 5 and 11 but finished with a bang by scoring a touchdown in the last 15 seconds to defeat the New Orleans Saints 31-24!  I was lucky enough to attend courtesy of my son, Mike.  

Thanks Mike!!!

Stadium PanoPre-game Stadium Panorama (iPhone

The start of the game was really nice. There were fireworks and an Air Force flyover, and the  group that sang the National Anthem was extremely good.

Pre-game F-15 formation flyoverPre-game F-15 formation flyover

They introduced the pilots from the four planes later in the game.

Air Force F-15 Pilots from the pre-game flyoverAir Force F-15 Pilots from the pre-game flyover

We had a wonderful view of the action from Mike’s seats on the second level towards the North end zone.

HurdlesHurdles

Winston handing off to BarberWinston handing off to Barber

Bucs TDBucs score (just barely)!

Pirate Ship Broadside!The Buccaneers pirate ship lets loose with a broadside!

National Football League rules allows cameras if the longest dimension is 12 inched or less, but they’re very strict about bags.  So I brought my Olympus EM-1 Mark II with a 75-300mm lens on a sling strap, with a spare battery in my pocket. Since Micro 4/3 has a 2x crop factor, this gave me an effective focal length of 600mm – pretty good in such a small package!

I used the camera in Olympus Pro Capture mode which let me select frames with peak action – ideal for this kind of photo-op.  Although the camera can shoot at 60 frames per second (!) I limited it to 10.  This cut down on the number I had to review and I think it was more than enough.

The game started at 4:30, and light quickly became a problem.  I shot wide open and had to balance ISO and shutter speed.  The 75-300mm is a fine lens, but it’s a dim f/6.7 at the long end.  I was getting about 1/500th second at ISO 1600.  I got some usable frames with this though I really wanted an even faster shutter speed.  As the sun set I kept raising the ISO and eventually ran out of light at ISO 6400 when my shutter speed dropped below 1/400.  I usually don’t use such a high ISO setting, but I think the camera did well with it this time.

The city looked pretty at sunset from the second deck.

Stadium SunsetStadium Sunset (iPhone, 3 frame panorama)

It was great going to the game with Mike and we enjoyed seeing the Bucs win.

Many thanks to all of you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Christmas Eve Pancakes

The Old Spanish Sugar Mill restaurant inside De Leon Springs State Park has become one of our favorite breakfast spots.  Something about their batter recipe cooked on a griddle right at your table, and served hot and fresh makes the pancakes taste so much better.

Our family met there on Christmas Eve and really enjoyed the food and each other’s company!  After, we strolled around a bit and I made this photo – looking toward the lake from the spring outflow.  The morning was a bit gloomy, but I still like how this infrared image  turned out.

Christmas Eve Morning at Spring Garden LakeChristmas Eve Morning at Spring Garden Lake

If you’ve never been there, go!  It gets pretty crowded, so check the hours and arrive early so you don’t have to wait.  You might find a few photo ops too!

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

P.S. Happy New Year!

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Look, all around you!

When you’re out, don’t get too locked in on your subject.  Make sure you’re always aware of other things around you.  They might be photogenic too!

The dawn was dressed in pale pastelsThe dawn was dressed in pale pastels along the Indian River

I already had my sunrise images on my memory card and thought I was good to go –  just waiting for a friend to finish up.  But then I looked across the calm water and noticed a boat anchored near the far shore.  The sky colors were unusual and lovely.  I set my tripod up again and made this photo.  It’s a good reminder:  We have to keep looking in all directions and not put the camera away until we’re leaving a place.  Beauty is all around us.  Let’s pay attention!

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – 18 Nov 2017

Kevin M., Kevin K., and I went to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge yesterday morning. We stopped by the Titusville Marina for a few sunrise photos.

Heading outHeading out

Then we drove around Black Point Wildlife Drive.  The water there is very high and although wildlife numbers might be a bit below average, there’s great variety with both  normal residents and winter visitors present.

A ternery panoramaA ternery pano – Caspian Terns and a Sandpiper in a four frame panorama

We saw Green, Blue, Great Blue,  and Tri-colored Herons, Reddish, Snowy, and Great Egrets, a Roseate Spoonbill, Sandpipers, Caspian Terns, Belted Kingfishers, Blue Wing Teals, Coots,  Ospreys, a Bald Eagle, Savannah Sparrows,  White Pelicans, Gulls, Vultures, an Alligator, and probably others I missed.  A person we talked to at the rest stop had just seen a bittern.

Reddish EgretReddish Egret

My friend Jim Boland reported seeing a Red Headed Duck, Northern Pintails, Blue Winged Teal, American Wigeons, and Northern Shovelers on BPWD in his newsletter* last Monday.  We didn’t see that many – I suspect they were out there, just hidden.  We heard hunters making a lot of noise throughout the morning and I bet the ducks are skittish.

If you’ve held off visiting MINWR or BPWD because you were uneasy about hurricane damage and lack of wildlife – stop worrying.  The place is rapidly getting back to normal and there’s every reason to get out there and witness some of Central Florida’s beauty.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

*By the way: If you want to subscribe to Jim’s newsletter, send him an email at jasboland01@gmail.com

Black Point Wildlife Drive is open again!

Yay! Jim Boland’s newsletter let us know that they’ve reopened Black Point so when Tom M. asked if I wanted to go out photographing I suggested we head to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. We met early Friday morning and drove over on State Road 50.

St. Johns River at dawnSt. Johns River at dawn

Our first stop was at the boat ramp on the St. Johns River. It’s a pretty place at dawn and the view was different this time since the water is several feet higher than I’ve ever seen it. Lots of rain here recently.

Once at the refuge, we headed straight to Black Point. The water there is a little higher than I’ve ever seen it too. The road surface was in great shape – I didn’t see any damage remaining from the hurricane.

Spiders and webs were very common. This one had set up in some great early morning light.

Banana SpiderBanana Spider – A little early for Halloween!

Some of our winter migrants are starting to show up and our regular birds were around, but not in great numbers. Belted Kingfishers teased us, and there were a few Savannah Sparrows foraging near the road.

Savannah SparrowSavannah Sparrow

We didn’t see too many ducks. I’m not sure if they just haven’t come down yet, or if they’re somewhere else.

We thought we spotted another Kingfisher over the canal on the right by the paved section near the exit. It was about the right size and seemed to fly like a Kingfisher. But then it landed in a tree and started acting like a Woodpecker – perched on the side of the main trunk and hopping around. I was pretty far away but took several photos anyway. When I got home and looked closely I didn’t recognize the bird. Kevin M. helped me ID it as a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (another new life bird for me!). Unfortunately, the photos aren’t very good so I haven’t posted them. Maybe next time I can catch it closer in better light. It seems like I’m always saying that!

One more thing: We met a woman at the rest area on the drive who’d just seen a Bobcat. She was patiently waiting to see if she could get a better photo. We left before we found out if she was successful. I’ve seen a Bobcat out there before, but it was further along, not near the Rest Area. If you go, keep your eyes open!

I have many more Black Point photos in this folder on Flickr. I’m glad it didn’t suffer too much damage from Hurricane Irma and it’s open again.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Orlando Wetlands Park – 14 Oct 17

Kevin M. and I met at Orlando Wetlands Park Yesterday before sunrise.  It was gloomy and raining, but not for long.  I liked the way the low sunlight lit up this scene as the clouds were clearing.

Marsh Morning IIMarsh Morning II – This is a two frame, Olympus Hi Res, panorama using the technique described in this post:  http://edrosack.com/2011/01/21/two-image-pano-hdr-focus-stacking/

We had a hard time deciding where to go – storm damage and other circumstances are limiting our choices.  Many places that we like in Central Florida are closed (Viera Wetlands, Lake Apopka, Mead Gardens, many parts of Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Jetty Park, etc.).  We ended up deciding between Circle B Bar in Lakeland and Orlando Wetlands (both are open).  I hadn’t been to either for a while and Orlando Wetlands is closer, so…

With the sun up and the clouds gone, we walked for a while before it got too hot.  This colorful bird caught my eye.  I didn’t realize it was a new life bird until I got home.

Common YellowthroatCommon Yellowthroat – A life bird!

There were lots of these flowers blooming.  I see them all the time although I’d never looked them up.  They’re native to Florida and the Americas.

Pickerelweed flowersPickerelweed flowers

Some other things we saw:  a Raccoon, a Peregrine Falcon, Red Shoulder Hawks, Black Belllied Whistling Ducks, a Juvenile Blue Heron and other wading birds, a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, a Painted Bunting, Red Eyed and White Eyed Vireos, House and Carolina wrens, Palm Warblers, and a Chicken (the Ranger said its name is Chuck).

It was very nice to visit a place with no sign of the recent hurricanes.  Lots of other folks thought so too and were out there enjoying the day.  It’s a large place – I’ve ridden around it on my bike, but it’s too far for me to walk the whole thing.  They have a guided tram ride at 9am (confirm on their website) and it’s worth trying if you’re there at the right time and want to see more of the place with expert commentary.  Remember too that the park is open year round now – it no longer closes during the winter.  You can see some other Orlando Wetlands Park photos in this Flickr Album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157639616792296, and you can read other posts mentioning the park at this link.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved