Baby Bird Brief

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 cygnetsLake 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 CygnetsLake 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.

Lunch timeMomma 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.

You can read other blog posts about Lake Cherokee and Lake Davis at this link: https://edrosack.com/?s=lake+cherokee. And here are some more about Ospreys and Winter Park: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/winter-park/

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I hope all of you are staying healthy and safe out there in pandemic land. Take care of each other and if you can, make some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack and MK Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Cherokee and Lake Davis Swans

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 CobLake 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.

Lake Cherokee Mute Swan Family, ©2020, MK Rosack

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 FamilyLake 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 FamilyLake 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!

©2020, Ed Rosack and MK Rosack. All rights reserved

Winter Park Osprey Nest

Lynn and I had to mail a package yesterday and stopped by this nest box near the Winter Park Post Office to check on the Osprey family.

Urban Osprey NestUrban Osprey Nest

They look like they’re doing fine.  Click on this photo to see it larger on Flickr and you can spot one chick’s head just in front of Mom.

This was a good social distancing spot – no one else was there.  We might try to check on it again when the chicks get a little bigger.

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!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Davis Ducks

You may remember this post from last year: https://edrosack.com/2019/07/07/orlandos-lake-dixie-and-lake-cherokee/.  I included a photo of a juvenile Wood Duck and commented that I was looking forward to seeing them in their breeding colors. Well now I have!

Wood DuckMale Wood Duck

Male Wood Duck, ©2020, MK Rosack

The gentlemen are indeed handsome and the ladies are lovely too:

Female Wood Duck and chicks, ©2020, MK Rosack

This family is very large – I count 16 ducklings around Mom!

Female Wood Duck and chicks, ©2020, MK Rosack

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 MallardA 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!

©2020, Ed Rosack and MK Rosack. All rights reserved

In the Neighborhood

Lynn and I have been walking around our neighborhood a bit more than usual lately (six feet away from everyone, of course).  I’ve been carrying a camera and here are some things that caught my eye.

Spanish Moss is common around here – it decorates many of our trees.  This piece dangled in some pretty morning light for me.

Morning light on Spanish MossMorning light on Spanish Moss

By the way, Spanish Moss isn’t moss.  It’s an epiphyte and gets nutrients and water from air and rainfall. See this Wikipedia article for more info: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Spanish_moss

We also have a lot of Cypress trees in Florida.  They’re deciduous conifers – the leaves turn reddish brown or orange in the fall and drop by winter time.  New growth in the spring is a vibrant green.

Cypress branchCypress branch

When we left on our walk, I’d seen a large bird take off from a tree.  It happened too fast for a photo and I couldn’t really make out what it was.  But I remembered to look for it again when we returned.

Watching the NeighborhoodWatching the Neighborhood

That’s when I spotted this pretty Red-shouldered Hawk watching intently from the gutter on a house by the corner.  Our squirrels and rabbits need to be careful!

Park closing info:  I don’t want to post anything about which parks and areas are open or closed in Central Florida.  The situation has been changing every day.  But many places have shut down – do your research first if you decide to head out.

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!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Gatorland Postcard

I sincerely hope that all of you are staying safe and well.

This is my next entry in the occasional blog category called “Postcards” where I upload a photo of Central Florida scenes – similar to ones you’d see on a postcard.

It’s easy to find them all. Just use the “Places / Categories” pulldown menu over on the right side of the blog and select “Postcards”. If you’re viewing the site on a phone, you may not see that menu – in that case, just type “postcards” into the search box.

Cattle Egret in breeding colorsCattle Egret in breeding colors

I made this image in June of 2015 at Gatorland in Orlando Florida.  Gatorland is a theme park and wildlife preserve in south Orlando.  The main attractions there are of course the alligators, but wild birds also use it as a breeding area in the spring.   The birds are used to people and you can get some fantastic photos of nesting birds and breeding behaviors. I’d been thinking about buying an annual pass this year, but the pandemic has delayed that – Gatorland is closed for now.  I’ll get one when we get back to normal.

Here’s a link to all the posts I’ve written about it: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/gatorland/.  And you can view my other photos from there at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157623039154783.

You should be able to click on this photo to open it on Flickr and then select the download symbol below and to the right of the photo. I hope you like it!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – stay safe out there, and if possible – make some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license

Note: Items in my blog that are marked with a Creative Commons license are available in high resolution for you to download for your personal use. Please visit this page to see details and restrictions that apply: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.

 

Sunrise Reflections and Fishing Ospreys

With all the bad news about the novel coronavirus pandemic and the economy / stock market, blogging about photography doesn’t seem too important, does it?  But maybe photography can distract you from those headlines for a bit, like it distracted me last Wednesday morning.

Gator Creek MirrorGator Creek Mirror

I made a solo trip over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and spent a few hours enjoying nature. I started on Gator Creek Road before dawn, and then went round Black Point Wildlife Drive.  When it was about time to head home, I decided to make one more pass through Gator Creek Road before I left.  I’m very glad I did.

As I went past where Catfish Creek Trail branches off, I heard a loud group of birds squawking in the distance.  I decided to back up and go and see what was making such a big racket.  I found hundreds of (mostly) Laughing Gulls along with a few terns and skimmers in the water – all making noise.  They were a little too far away for good photos, but on the other side of the road I spotted several circling Ospreys.

Osprey catch sequence 1Osprey catch sequence 1

They were looking for fish in Catfish Creek.  I stayed for 15 minutes or so watching and photographing.  They dove and missed a few times and then I saw this one plummeting  toward the water.

Osprey catch sequence 2Osprey catch sequence 2

The splash was huge and things were happening very fast.  It wasn’t until it gained some altitude that I could clearly see it had a fish.

Osprey catch sequence 3Osprey catch sequence 3

That looks like a Spotted-seatrout to me (https://myfwc.com/wildlifehabitats/profiles/saltwater/drums/spotted-seatrout/). Those are great eating.  We used to fish for them in Mosquito Lagoon when we lived in Port Orange

I’ve seen Ospreys fishing before, but these are the best photos I’ve been able to get of an actual catch.  It’s exciting to see something like this in the wild.  My experience is that you have to be lucky to photograph it when it happens.  Thank goodness those gulls were calling or I’d have driven right by!

You can click on these photos to see higher resolution versions on Flickr.  You can also visit these related Flick albums:

On a side note:  I’ve been enjoying our bug free weather here but I noticed when I got home from this trip that I had several mosquito bites.  Time to break out the bug spray – I think our Central Florida spring may already be just about over.

I hope that all of you make it through our current troubles unscathed.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, stay safe – and make some socially distanced photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Isolation

Anyone can snap a photo.  As photographers, we choose subjects and then compose frames around them so a viewer’s eyes are drawn to what we want them to see.  One thing to think about when we’re out with our cameras is how to isolate the subjects in our images.

Scan the scene when shooting – look for distracting elements and get rid of them.  How?  Sometimes you can’t, but here are some suggestions.

Viewpoint:  Shift a few feet one way or another to hide things.  There’s a much less attractive mailbox just out of the frame below on the left.

A Mailbox on Joe Overstreet RoadA Mailbox on Joe Overstreet Road

Magnification:  We never have enough zoom, do we?  Use what you do have to get close and separate subjects from clutter.  You can also crop later on the computer, but you’ll risk losing some image quality / resolution.

A good morning for a songA good morning for a song – singing Eastern Meadowlark. Joe Overstreet Road

Light:  Sometimes the light is just right to make your subject stand out from the background – take advantage of it!  This can be modified a bit in post processing too.

Shy birdShy bird – A Roseate Spoonbill in the light. Black Point Wildlife Drive

Depth of Field (DOF):  In addition to getting as close as you can and using a long focal length, shooting with a wide open aperture creates a shallower DOF and blurs the background behind your subject.  You may need to shift your position a bit to insure that the entire subject (e.g. both the insect and the bird) are in the plane of focus.

Butcher BirdButcher Bird – Loggerhead Shrikes often kill prey by impaling them on a thorn or barbed wire.  Joe Overstreet Road

Color:  Catching your subject against a contrasting color can help it stand out.  These American White Pelicans with their yellow beaks were very nice to pose for me in the blue water.

American White PelicansAmerican White Pelicans. Black Point Wildlife Drive

So that’s a few ideas. If you think about this when you’re out, your photos will improve. Do you have any other suggestions?  Feel free to add them in the comments.

And speaking of isolation, Lynn and I are both generally in good health (thankfully!).  But the CDC says we’re at higher risk from the COVID-19 virus due to our ages.  We’re going to follow their recommendations and stay up to date on developments.

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

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Chizzywinks!

Kevin M. asked me on Friday if I wanted to go photographing Saturday.  I’d just been to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge that morning, but Lynn and I didn’t have anything planned so it sounded like a good idea to me!  I told him to pick a spot and he wanted to go  down to Osceola County / Joe Overstreet Road.

We’d already had a very nice trip – trying to find Red-Cockaded Woodpeckers at Three Lakes Wildlife Management Area, checking the Bald Eagle nest and finding the Scissor-tailed Flycatchers again on Joe Overstreet – among other things.  As we got close to the lake, we started to notice a lot of Tree Swallows.

Tree Swallow TrioTree Swallow Trio

These birds are winter migrants in our area and breed as far north as Alaska.  We’re used to seeing them here but as we got closer to the lake, we’d never seen them like this.

Tree SwallowsTree Swallow Swarm

There were thousands – maybe tens of thousands (?) of the birds in the fields and areas close to the lake.  They were madly flying around chasing something.  Eventually we got close enough to notice the hoards of blind mosquitoes they were after.  Here’s one of those that got inside the car.

Chizzywink

These aren’t really mosquitoes and they don’t bite, although they were thick enough to be bothersome (for us, not the Swallows).  Actually, I don’t think they’re blind either!  We stopped by the store at the landing and I asked the young lady running it about all the birds.   She told us that when the chizzywinks show up, it’s not uncommon for large groups of birds to go after them.  I’ll say!  I’d never heard them called that and had to ask her to repeat it so I could make a note and look up the word.

If you’ve ever seen or tried to photograph Tree Swallows, you know how energetic / erratic their flight is.  Going after the flies was definitely a high energy task and we also saw them congregating on some nearby wires to rest between servings of their chizzywinks happy meals.

Resting Tree SwallowsResting Tree Swallows

Photographing Tree Swallows is usually hard because it’s difficult to keep them in the frame.  Photographing this spectacle was hard too,  but it wasn’t because we couldn’t keep them in the frame – they were literally wherever we pointed our cameras.  It was just that it was so chaotic that I was never sure what I was capturing. and I was worried about depth of field and motion blur.  There was plenty of light, so I ended up stopping down and making sure my ISO was high enough to get a fast shutter speed.  This frame is my favorite:

Chizzywinks and swallowsChizzywinks and swallows

Something like this is why I really like photography.  It gets me up and out of the house and every once in a while, I see something amazing that I’ve never seen before.  And if I can figure out how to photograph it, I can share it with people too.  Fun!

Also, I occasionally learn a new word!

My video skills are not the best and this is a bit jumpy with a lot of wind noise, but here’s a ~20 second recording of this:

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go out and explore nature.  You may see something amazing – and make some interesting photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Leave no trace

“Take nothing but memories, leave nothing but footprints!”  — Si’ahl (Seattle), leader of the Suquamish and Duwamish tribes

Beginning with my very first adventures out in nature, I’ve always been taught to leave no trace.  And so I was startled and then a little sad when I saw these along Gator Creek Road in the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge about a week ago.

Rock stacksRock stacks

I’ve seen rock stacks (or rock cairns) before, just not in MINWR.  I guess I also noticed that stacking rocks (and posting photos of them on social media) has become a thing.  People shouldn’t do this anywhere, and when they start doing it in one of my favorite places, it’s time to speak up.

I looked through my image archives for another photo from near the same spot and found this one from back in 2013 that I never processed or posted before. It’s looking in a different direction, and it shows rocks where they should be.  It’s worth a click to view a larger version.

Gator Creek panoGator Creek pano

There are of course, legitimate reasons for building rock cairns and different National Parks have different rules. See this NPS page: https://www.nps.gov/articles/rockcairns.htm.  However, it’s always wrong to tamper, add to, or build unauthorized cairns in national parks.

I couldn’t find anywhere on-line that specifically says rock stacking is prohibited at MINWR.  Even if it’s not against the rules – it’s still ethically, morally, and environmentally wrong.  And it’s rude and selfish.  Don’t do it.

Always follow the Leave No Trace guidelines when you’re out enjoying nature. Always.

“A thing is right when it tends to preserve the integrity, stability, and beauty of the biotic community. It is wrong when it tends otherwise.”  — Aldo Leopold, American ecologist and environmentalist

Sorry for the rant today.  The longer I thought about this, the more it bothered me.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos, but don’t stack any rocks!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved