It’s still baby bird season here in Central Florida. I thought I’d update you on several I’ve been following.
Lake Cherokee Mute Swans
As of May 23rd, there are three surviving cygnets at Lake Cherokee (this photo is from May 17th). On April 25th, I counted 6.
Lake Davis Mute Swans
There are only two cygnets left at Lake Davis (this photo is from May 17th too). On April 25th, there were 5. They seem a little bit larger / older to me than the ones at Lake Cherokee.
There’s a lot of wildlife in and around Lake Davis and Lake Cherokee. One neighbor’s seen owls, hawks, eagles and otters there and it wouldn’t be surprising if there are alligators too. Life for these young swans is dangerous.
All of the remaining ones seem to be healthy and growing. Hopefully they’re big enough now to avoid any more predation.
Winter Park Ospreys
Wing exercise – These two chicks are still in this nest. In this photo (also from May 17th) Mom and sibling duck out of the way as the other one exercises its wings.
They’re growing fast and getting stronger. I don’t think it’ll be too long before they fledge.
Bonus baby birds
Here are a few other young birds I’ve seen in the last week. These are from a stroll at Orlando Wetlands Park.
Black-necked Stilts: Mom and chick
A young Night Heron in flight. I think this one is a Black-crowned Night Heron. They’re much more common around here than the Yellow-crowned ones.
Family cruise – Mottled Duck Mom and ducklings
Okay – that’s all of the baby bird news I have. Now for a more serious subject.
Here In the US, we celebrate Memorial Day on the last Monday in May (the 25th). It’s a day to honor those who died defending our freedom and democracy. Every one of us owes them a debt we can never repay.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, stay safe, and take care of yourselves and your loved ones. And if you can – make some photos!
Lynn and I dropped off some things today at MK’s place. On the way home we checked on the Lake Cherokee and Lake Davis swans and then went by Winter Park to see how the Ospreys are doing.
Lake Cherokee Mute Swan and cygnets
The swans at Lake Cherokee seem to be fine. But last time I counted 6 cygnets and today I only saw 5. I hope one was hidden in the grass or behind the tree on the right.
Lake Davis Mute Swan and Cygnets
The Lake Davis swans seem fine too and I counted 5 cygnets there, same as our last visit. If you’d like to see a few more photos of these birds, one of my Flickr friends (Kathy B.) posted a few in her Flickr photo stream.
We only saw one very small chick in the Winter Park Osprey nest two weeks ago. It turns out it was the only one poking its head up at the time – there were two more hidden in the nest. This visit we saw all three and they’re much larger already. All the hungry babies were loudly begging for food and Momma was busy feeding them pieces of very fresh fish.
Momma Osprey feeding her three chicks
As we were getting ready to leave, Lynn asked if I’d made a video. And of course I hadn’t remembered to, so I went back and recorded a little bit. Thanks Lynn! The chicks in this remind me of mini dinosaurs.
Mary D. posted a comment on the last Osprey post. She saw a worker up there and hoped he was placing a wildlife camera. I looked and couldn’t see any sign of one.
When we posted about the Lake Davis ducks a couple of weeks ago, I got a question in the comments about the swan on Lake Cherokee.
Lake Cherokee Cob
lbphoto23 had only seen one swan there and asked if we’d seen two. I answered at the time that “Yes, there are two on Lake Cherokee. If you don’t see them together, you can usually spot the second one somewhere on a different area of the lake.”
Well it turns out that there are actually eight swans on Lake Cherokee! MK spotted her new neighbors this week paddling around with mom and dad.
Lynn and I had to drop some things off for MK, so I brought my camera and made some photos as we drove around both lakes on the way home. The Lake Davis Swan family is also doing well – there are ‘seven swans a swimming’ there.
Lake Davis Mute Swan Family
I’m happy that both families are starting out so well. Last year, the Lake Cherokee family ended up losing all of their cygnets one by one. Hopefully this year they’ll do much better.
Lake Cherokee Mute Swan Family
MK has notice quite a few people swan watching. If you do go see them, make sure you don’t get too close – give them some space!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. We’re doing OK here and socially isolating as much as possible. I hope all of you are staying safe too – take care of yourselves, your friends, and your families. And if you can, make some photos!
Wood Ducks seem to really like Lake Davis. There were more than a dozen adults and many more babies. Other kinds of ducks like it too. This Mallard posed in nice light so I could make its portrait:
A colorful, curly tailed Mallard
With pandemic lockdowns nearly everywhere here in the US, it’s nice that we have close by spots for a little solo exercise (with a camera, of course). MK and I made these photos on two separate trips around Lake Davis near her place over the last couple of weeks. Thank you for your help with this post, MK!
I’m glad the ducks like this place as much as we do!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay safe out there and take care of yourselves, your friends, and your families. And if you can, make some photos!
Lynn and I flew up to Wisconsin for a wonderful visit with Mike, Sara, and Calvin last weekend. Just before landing back in Orlando, the sky lit up. Lynn had the window seat and was making many photos, and she made a few for me too.
Almost home – a lovely sunset on our way in to Orlando from Wisconsin
Before I gave her my iPhone, I opened the Lightroom Mobile App and set the file format to RAW DNG. When I got home I processed it in Lightroom and Photoshop. I think it’s very nice for a grab shot through a thick window!
If you have a recent generation phone, you should look into using RAW format, especially for scenes like this. It records much more information and gives you adjustment room in your post processing, especially when changing white balance and recovering highlights and shadows. It’s well worth it!
We’re both a little under the weather after our trip, so that’s all I have for you this week.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some RAW photos!
MaryKate had the day off last Thursday for Independence Day and invited me to walk around Lake Dixie and Lake Cherokee with her. I was glad to go – I’d been by before, but only inside a car and unable to take a close look. We also wanted to check on how the cygnets she wrote about on Fathers Day are doing.
Lake Cherokee is the smaller of the two and both are lovely. For a location in downtown Orlando they have a lot of wildlife. Maybe I shouldn’t be surprised by this since they’re very close to Greenwood Park and Cemetery, where there’s also a lot of wildlife.
One of the first things we encountered was this Heron. I thought at first it was a Green Heron, but got some help with the ID on Flickr. It was small and still – and I glanced right past it without any recognition. I’m glad MaryKate commented on it so I could make a photo! Least Bitterns are supposed to be common in this type of environment, but I don’t see them much. I think because they’re so good at hiding!
Hunting Heron (Least Bittern)
Next we came up to this Mallard posing for me in the grass in front of some yellow flowers.
And there were several Wood Ducks. I’ve seen them before at Greenwood and Mead Gardens, but hadn’t paid attention to their non breeding colors. This young one is interesting and I’m looking forward to spring time when their plumage starts changing.
Juvenile Wood Duck
Here’s a bird that I’d never seen before or even heard of.
Swan Geese are native to the Far East and have also been domesticated. There were two, this one and another that was all white. It’s likely they escaped or were released from captivity since they don’t occur naturally in the US.
This Mottled Duck was resting in a notch about seven feet above ground. It watched us as I made the photo, but didn’t seem nervous. The tree was right next to the sidewalk and it must be used to people nearby.
Unfortunately, there’s some bad news about the Lake Cherokee Mute Swan family. There were initially three babies, but only one’s been seen lately.
From across the lake, MaryKate and I spotted two adults but no babies. We worried they’d lost the last cygnet too. But when we got closer, we saw what was going on – Mom was riding the baby on her back!
Mute Swan Mom carrying baby
We also saw Limpkins, Common Gallinules, Great Egrets, a second Mute Swan family (with four large juveniles!), Anhingas, and several turtles. What a wonderful walk and what an unexpected abundance of things to experience and photograph! Thanks for inviting me, MaryKate!
You can click on each of these images to view a larger version on Flickr. And if you’re interested, I’ve started collecting my photos from here in this album on Flickr.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Editors note: Here’s another post from our roving correspondent MaryKate – this time from right here in Central Florida. She was kind enough to write this for us which let me have Father’s Day off from the blog. Enjoy her post!
Happy Father’s Day to all Dads far and wide!
To celebrate, I thought I’d share some recent photos of a new swan family at Lake Cherokee in downtown Orlando. I noticed a single swan in Lake Cherokee, and locals tell me (s)he has been alone for quite some time. We were worried that something might have happened to its mate.
Lake Cherokee Mute Swan
However, last weekend, the mystery was solved. Turns out the swan couple was fine after all and had been up to some FOWL play. They showed up together with their swan babies!
Lake Cherokee Mute Swan Family
Mom and Dad are proud parents to three baby swans, two white ones and one grey. Apparently Mute Swans can be grey or white when they’re young, and then their feathers all turn white as they grow. My favorite is the grey one.
Mute Swan Cygnets Close-Up
Especially today, it’s touching to see this swan Dad (and Mom!) taking such good care of their family. I’m glad they found their cygnet-ficant others before Father’s Day!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Hope all fathers out there (especially my Dad and brother) have a very Happy Father’s Day! Now go make some photos!
“Cameras with detachable lenses longer than six (6) inches when extended are prohibited from all Amway Center sporting events.”
I put my Olympus 12 – 100 lens on my E-M1 2 camera, stuck an extra battery in my pocket, and was ready to make some super photos. When we arrived I was stopped by the first security guard I saw at the start of the entrance line and told that no interchangeable lens cameras were allowed. I didn’t think it was worth arguing, so I begrudgingly took my camera back to the car. After going through the line to get in, we asked about the policy and were told that yes, interchangeable lens cameras are allowed!
Amway – you need to make sure your security people understand your policies! Anyhow, I was tired of walking back and forth to the car and decided to just make photos with my phone.
Nikola Vucevic grabs a rebound. Orlando Magic vs. Brooklyn Nets. The Magic led for most of the game, but lost by two in the final seconds.
Which ended up working well, since the seats were in the first row! I used the 2x lens and shot in RAW mode using burst to capture the peak action.
I think a main disadvantage of phones vs. dedicated cameras is the lens selection, especially at the telephoto end. Phones right now usually have two or three lenses at most. Standalone cameras have a virtually unlimited lens selection available. At events, you need to be close to the action or you need to use a long lens.
Last week, Lynn and I went to a concert at the Plaza. Their camera policies are more restrictive (and vague). They can also change, depending on the performer, so I left my camera gear at home. Our seats this time were about eight rows back, which was close enough to get a few iPhone photos of one of my favorite guitar players.
Hot Tuna at the Plaza, Jorma Kaukonen and Jack Cassidy, Jan. 24, 2019, Downtown Orlando.
I would’ve liked to get closer. And the resolution isn’t as good as I’d want for prints on the wall. But phones can work surprisingly well – if your seats are good enough.
The Orlando Balloon Glow was last weekend in Baldwin Park. Thanks Kevin M. for telling me about it! Lynn and I had never been to anything like this. It was fascinating to see the process – especially at dusk, and it made for a compelling photo op.
The action took place in a large field in Blue Jacket Park, which can accommodate a big crowd with good viewing for everyone. It started around sundown when air blowers began inflating the balloons. Scout the layout so you can catch some of the activity in good light or against the sunset.
Dusk inflation. iPhone XS back camera, 4.25mm, 1/200 sec @ f/1.8, ISO 32
Once they’re partially inflated, propane burners light up and provide heat needed to make the balloons float in the air.
Hot Air. Olympus E-M1 MII, 40mm, 1/10 sec @ f/2.8, ISO 500
The light is challenging. There’s very high contrast with bright flames against dark surroundings. You’ll need to balance aperture and shutter speed with ISO and image stabilization to eliminate motion blur and get sharp, well exposed images. I’ve added my setting info to these photos to give you an idea of how I shot them. These were all made hand-held. If you don’t have image stabilization, you’ll probably need a tripod.
The balloons strain against their tie downs and then rise into a blue hour sky.
Blue hour balloons. Olympus Pen F, 17mm, 1/3 sec @f/1.8, ISO 500
Once they’re ready, you can purchase tethered rides on some of the balloons. The event also features Orlando area food trucks, a retail village and activities for kids. We splurged for paid parking and were glad we did, since space was tight for all the cars.
And one warning: There were a lot of ant hills in the field, so be careful where you step – especially after dark. You may want to wear closed shoes instead of our typical Florida flip-flops. Just sayin’.