Tag Archives: American Bittern

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

Around Central Florida

Here are three photos from last week that I made in and around Central Florida. First up is the Cocoa Waterfront.  I liked the early morning look of the clouds and water at River Front Park.

Calm morning on the riverfrontCalm morning on the riverfront. (Two frame vertical panorama, Infrared, B&W, 34mm eq. fl, 1/40 sec @f/5.6, ISO 200)

The morning light was also nice at Viera Wetlands, and this American Bittern posed for us in the reeds.  I’ve been lucky enough to see them there several times over the years. I’m sure they’re in spots like Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge too, but I’ve never spotted one there.

American BitternAmerican Bittern.  (600mm, f/8, 1/640 sec, ISO 320)

Orlando Wetlands Park opened again February 1st.  It’s one of my favorite places for sunrise.  Our walk on Friday morning  was brisk and breezy, but I like the wind’s effect on the water in this photo.

Wee hour winds whisk water and reeds in the wetlandsWee hour winds whisk water and reeds in the wetlands.  (Two frame vertical panorama; 120mm; I shot the bottom frame at f/22 and ISO 50 to extend the shutter speed to 8 seconds and maximize depth of field.  I made the upper frame at f/8, .5 sec, ISO 100 to maximize sharpness)

So that’s some of what I photographed last week.  What did you shoot?  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Emeralda Marsh

Intro / Description

Emeralda Marsh is called the “Jewel of Lake County Bird Watching”.  When we first visited in May of 2010, the Interpretive drive had just been closed to vehicles – which was a big disappointment and prevented me from doing a review of the site.  Fast forward to late March of this year and the drive is again open, so Kevin M. and I headed over to see if this place lives up to its reputation.

It’s huge (7089 acres), with a 4.3 mile long drive that’s accessible by car for part of the year.  We arrived a little after sunrise but before the gate opened at 8am, and so we spent a little time around this very picturesque canal just up the road from the entrance.

Canal, mist, and sundog
Canal, mist, and Sun Dog: A Sun Dog appears over this misty Florida canal near Emeralda Marsh just after sunrise.

Info for Photographers

Photo hints:  The Interpretive drive is open from the 3rd week in February through May on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.  Call before you go to make sure.  The drive had already been closed when we went last May and the place is too big to walk (at least for me).  The hours are 8 – 5.   We didn’t see much of interest on about the first half of the drive.  Things picked up a bit when we turned north at the south-west corner (see link to Google Maps, below).  Then we ended up seeing a good variety of birds including a Belted Kingfisher, coots and moorhens, gators, American Bitterns, a Northern Harrier, Ospreys, Egrets and Herons, and various ducks.

Northern Harrier in flight
Northern Harrier in flight: This bird was quite active on the morning we were there

There’s a dirt road that’s closed to cars leading west from the north-west corner of the drive.  It goes to a rookery on a small island just off the Lake Griffin shore.  We walked out there and saw some displaying and nest-building going on, but it was grown up and hard to get a clear view.

American Bittern
American Bittern

Tripod/Monopod: Allowed of course.

Lenses: Bring your standard bird set up – the longer your lens, the better.

Best time to visit: When the drive is open (late February to May), which is also the best time for nesting, breeding, etc.  Winter time is reportedly good for migrating species, but the drive will be closed to vehicles and you’ll have to hike in to the area.

Other:

Here’s a link to the trail map, and you can download the trail guide here.

Landscapes and sunrise / sunset photos will be hard due to the hours that the drive is open to cars, although you may be able to find a few scenic locations close by for golden hour photos.

There was a Bass fishing tournament going on the morning we were there, which made for a few loud moments as the fast boats all roared off.  We also heard several gun shots, so there was some hunting going on in the area.

Summary

“Jewel of Lake County Bird Watching”?  I certainly can’t argue with that.  This is a huge place with a diversity of habitats and we did end up seeing a lot.  I think that if you could visit several times over the course of a year, you’d see a variety of Florida and migratory birds.

My Gallery / Flickr photo set: http://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/sets/72157626234490421/
Website: http://www.sjrwmd.com/recreationguide/emeraldamarsh/index.html
Address / Phone: Lake County BCC
315 West Main St.
P.O. Box 7800
Tavares, Florida 32778(386) 329-4404

Geolocation: 28.886668,-81.79056

View in Google Maps

Central Florida Photo Ops Rating: There are places near me that I think are better, but go if you’re close.

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

©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.