Category Archives: Orlando

A walk in the park

I usually walk in my neighborhood several times a week.  It’s a good way to get some exercise and say hello to folks.  I did something different last Friday and drove over to Orlando Wetlands Park for my morning hike.

It was still dark when I arrived and I could hear owls and whistling ducks calling on the way out to Lake Searcy – one of my favorite landscape places.  I didn’t like the view this time since the water was low and the appealing  mirror like reflections were missing.  I ended up moving to a new location for this:

Middle marsh mystery island
Middle marsh mystery island

Morning color was disappointing, but I do like the image.  After sunrise, I wandered around and made some bird photos.  There were many Little Blue Herons:

Pretty little bluePretty little blue

And the Palm Warblers are here in force, bobbing their tails as they pose in the reeds:

Palm WarblerPalm Warbler

And here’s one of the whistling ducks.  I caught it mid-preen:

Black Bellied Whistling DuckBlack Bellied Whistling Duck

The last time I was at Orlando Wetlands was in February.  It was good to get back and a lovely walk.  And carrying weights (photo equipment) made it better exercise.  Plus, I made some photos!

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Happy Father's Day

Yes, it’s been a horrific week here in Central Florida.  So bad that some might question celebrating a holiday so soon after these terrible events.

We should keep in mind that there is danger and evil in the world.  We should keep the victims and everyone touched by these events in our hearts and minds.  But  we should celebrate, I think    Because there is also peace and goodness in the world, and there are vastly more good people than evil ones.

So, to all Dads out there:  I hope  you have a wonderful day on Sunday and I hope you get to share it with your families.  Celebrate the good in the world and help overcome the evil.

I wonder where Dad is? Mom said he would feed us this time.I wonder where Dad is? Mom said he would feed us this time. Two young Great Egrets, waiting for their next meal at Gatorland in Orlando.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

#OrlandoStrong

#OrlandoUnited

No photo post today

We woke up this morning here in Central Florida, to news of the worst mass shooting in US history.

Please take a moment of silence and direct your thoughts and prayers to all the people killed and injured in Orlando this weekend, their relatives and friends, and the first responders and medical people helping them.

#plazalive

#PulseNightclub

Handsome Bird

Colorful Cattle EgretColorful Cattle Egret

You probably see these birds where you live.  They’re common in Central Florida and throughout most of the warmer parts of the world. You can read much more about them in this article on Wikipedia: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cattle_egret.

Most of the time Cattle Egrets are ordinary looking, even drab.  But when they dress up like this one in springtime breeding colors, I find it hard to resist photographing them.  Especially when they pose so nicely in warm morning light.

Have you seen something recently that you just had to take a photo of?

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Bird Moms

Happy Mother’s Day!!!  

We all love our Moms.  They love us too, feed us, protect us, teach us, and make sure we go out into the world ready for all its challenges.

Bird Moms do the same.  In celebration of all Mothers everywhere, here are three recent photos of bird Moms raising their young.

Great Egret Mom feeding chicksGreat Egret Mom feeding chicks – That’s a large chunk of sushi – those baby birds will be full if they eat all that!

Common Gallinule Mom and ChicksCommon Gallinule Mom and Chicks – These hatch ready to swim. Mom protectively takes them around the local pond, very careful to avoid gators lurking nearby.

Woodstork Mom and chicksWood Stork Mom and chicks

These photos were all made this year at Gatorland in Orlando, Florida.  Wild birds nest there above the Alligator breeding marsh, where the gators keep many natural predators away from the nests.  Spring is a wonderful time to see all the action.

Click on any of these photos to see them larger on Flickr.  And look at this album for many more images from Gatorland.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go tell your Mom you love her!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Gatorland Update – 8 April 2016

I had a delightful visit to Gatorland yesterday morning.  Tom M. and Jim B. were also there.  I started following Jim’s blog several years ago and we’ve been web friends for a while.  I’m happy I finally got to meet him in person!

Anhinga gathering nest materialAnhinga gathering nest material

The nesting season is going full blast now, and this gives everyone a chance to see and photograph wild birds in breeding colors doing nesting season behaviors.  Quite an opportunity!

We saw Anhingas, Blue Herons, Cattle Egrets, Cormorants, Great Egrets, Common Gallinules, Snowy Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, and Woodstorks all in various stages of breeding.  Little ones in the nest are quite common and some of the baby Great Egrets have grown into “teenagers” already and will be fledging shortly.

Nesting Double-crested CormorantNesting Double-crested Cormorant – Can you tell where this bird gets its name?

The early entry program at Gatorland is perfect for catching the birds in good light on the west side of the breeding pond.  They enjoy the morning light too.

I'll be with you in a moment just as soon as my feathers dry...I’ll be with you in a moment just as soon as my feathers dry… – This Wood Stork was soaking in  the morning sun

Keep an eye out for backlit birds – they can also be beautiful.

Great Glowing EgretGreat Glowing Egret

Gatorland is an exceptional place to practice your “birds-in-flight” skills.  Patient observation lets you figure out movement patterns and get ready.  I waited several minutes with my camera in “BIF” mode (high shutter speed, continuous auto focus) until this Tri-Colored took off.  I didn’t expect it to grab a little fish on the way, but I was glad it did!

Breakfast to goBreakfast to go – A Tri-colored Heron scoops up a minnow on the fly

Click on any of these photos to see them larger on Flickr.  And look at this album for many more images from Gatorland.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  If you haven’t been to Gatorland yet, go.  And if you haven’t checked out Jim’s blog yet, go do that too.  Then – go make some photos!

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Anhinga portrait

Anhingas are large water birds common here in Florida.  You often see them pose with wings spread as they dry out after a swim.  You can read more about them in this article on Wikipedia.

For most of the year you might say they’re drab, especially around the head with plain black or brown feathers and eyes.  But with springtime love in the air, their appearance changes – especially for males.  They develop highlights in the feathers on the back of their heads, a lot of color around their eyes, and look like they wear red contact lenses.  This fellow has the full style going.

Anhinga - full length portraitAnhinga – full length portrait

Here’s a close up crop from this photo so you can better see the colors and detail (click for a larger version on Flickr).

Anhinga - head shotAnhinga – head shot

They’re very handsome and I enjoy photographing them, especially when they’re as patient and tolerant as this one was.

I made the photo at Gatorland in Orlando on March 10th during my first visit this year.  The breeding season is underway and hundreds of wild birds are participating.  It’s a wonderful opportunity to see colors and behaviors of anhinga, egret, herons  and other species up close.   And Gatorland has an early entry program for photographers so you can photograph in the early morning light while avoiding crowds of tourists later in the day.  Go see for yourself!

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Arlo Guthrie at the Plaza

I’m sitting here this morning writing this while wearing the new t-shirt  I got last night at the Plaza Live in Downtown Orlando.

During the Vietnam War, the US government required men to register for the draft.  I suspect that many of these folks and their loved ones were and still are fans of Arlo Guthrie and his song “The Alice’s Restaurant Massacree“.  He stopped by last night on his Alice’s Restaurant 50th Anniversary Tour to entertain a full house.

Arlo GuthrieArlo Guthrie

Sarah Lee Guthrie (his daughter) opened for him and she’s a wonderful talent too.

Sara Lee GuthrieSara Lee Guthrie

“Alices Restaurant” is a favorite tune of mine and one of the first fingerstyle songs I learned to play on the guitar.  It was a special treat to see and hear him perform this and many other songs.  It was also special to hear him and Sarah Lee talk about their life, family, and friends.  Here are a couple of things I learned:

  • In the Alice’s Restaurant movie, Arlo, Officer Obie, Judge James Hannon and his seeing eye dog all portray themselves.  Relations between Arlo and Officer Obie were frosty at first, but they became good friends.
  • The Alice’s Restaurant song is 18 1/2 minutes long which is the same length as the famous gap in Nixon’s Watergate tapes.  Arlo suggested that Nixon listened to the song and that’s why he had to erase that section.

Arlo GuthrieArlo Guthrie and his band

Photography notes:  These were all made with a Sony RX-100 III point and shoot camera.  I took this one because I’m never sure what the camera policy will be at the Plaza – it seems to vary.  The Sony only has a 24 – 70mm equivalent lens, but we had seats up front.  I used it wide open (f/2.8) in aperture priority with the spot meter.  I manually varied ISO between 800 and 1600.  The shutter speeds varied between 1/60 and 1/200 seconds.  I shot in RAW and used DXO Optics Pro to process the RAW files.    This SW is excellent at removing noise and preserving sharpness – even with the smaller sensor in this camera.  The camera’s auto white balance did OK, but I used the eyedropper to set it based on Arlo’s gray shirt.

Lynn and I really enjoyed the concert.  And I like my new t-shirt too. We need more songs about social consciousness, activism, and protest.  There’re certainly enough subjects to write about.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Gatorland – June 4, 2015

Once again, it’s that time of year:  The Gatorland photography pass season ends soon – so if you want to get in early at 7:30am, you’ll have to hurry.  After June 17th, they’re only open during regular hours.

I like to watch the progression of wild birds nesting in the rookery and usually visit several times. Check out this very handy bird nesting season reference guide on the St. Augustine Alligator Farm web page for hints on what you can see here in Florida and when.

A juvenile Tri-colored Heron, (with a typical "hair-do")A juvenile Tri-colored Heron, (with a typical “hair-do”).  This one was waiting for Mom or Dad to return with some food.

Great Egrets start the year off, but this late, most of their eggs have hatched and the chicks have grown and fledged into nice looking juveniles.  When I was there this week with Tom M., Wood Storks, Anhingas, Snowy Egrets, and Tri-colored Herons were still raising chicks and tending to nests.

Wood StorkWood Stork – Bringing a branch back to Momma.

Several of the Wood Storks had found an abandoned Cormorant nest and were stealing branches from it.  This one made several trips!

Cattle Egrets are taking over the starring roles and are busy attracting mates, building nests, and breeding.

Cattle Egret - posing in breeding colorsCattle Egret – posing in breeding colors

This was probably my last visit to Gatorland for a while but I’m looking forward to returning next year.  It’s a wonderful place to get close access to a number of Florida bird species.  I’ve posted a great many photos from there in this set on Flickr.  You can read Central Florida Photo Ops posts about Gatorland at this link and posts about the St. Augustine Alligator Farm at this link.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Breeding blue and hatching chicks

Thursday night, Tom M. invited me to meet him at Gatorland.  We both showed up at 7:30 Friday morning to see what’s changed from our visit on February 20th.  The answer is a lot!  Last time, it was mostly the Great Egrets starting to breed.  This time several more species are dressed up in their fancy colors and plumage and building nests.  And the Great Egret chicks are starting to hatch.  Here are some photos from the trip.

I saw this male Anhinga getting ready to take off and managed to make a frame  just as it left the tree.  You can see the breeding season blue around his eye as well as some of the crest on his head.

Anhinga close upAnhinga close up

Cormorant eyes are always pretty in the right light.  They add a striking blue mouth during nesting season.  Some of the Cormorants are already on nests.  This pair looked like they were just about to “get busy”.

Cormorant couple 2 Cormorant couple

Tri-colored Herons also add a dash of blue for breeding season.  They’re starting to show off with courting behaviors and poses to attract mates.

Tri-colored Heron displayingTri-colored Heron displaying

And here’s a couple of Great Egret siblings huddled up close to Mama in the nest.  I’m not sure you can call these young chicks without a full set of feathers beautiful, but they are cute.

Mama and two chicksMama and two chicks

Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Wood Storks and other species usually also nest in the this rookery – so we still have those to look forward to.  It’s a wonderful time to visit Gatorland, the St. Augustine Alligator Farm, or your local bird rookery.  Don’t miss this chance to see nature in action!

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.