When I go on a photo expedition I come home with many more images than I process, and I post even less. So every once in a while I go through the photos in my Lightroom catalog and look for ones that I passed over, to see if my current self thinks they’re good enough to show or include in a blog post.
Caught in a sunbeam, Gatorland, May 2017
Anyway, I was doing this last week and ended up with the group of images in this post. They made me realize once again how wonderful Central Florida is for bird watching and bird photography.
Handsome Anhinga, Gatorland, May 2016
We have an enormous variety of avian wildlife here (iBird says 366 species in the state of Florida, Wikipedia says 524!).
Spoonbill, Black Point Wildlife Drive, January 2018
At some locations the larger birds are tolerant of people – especially if you stay in your car and / or take care not to stress them. And nesting season provides opportunities that aren’t common elsewhere.
Hungry Herons, Viera Wetlands, March 2018
I’ve added info to the captions on when and where I made these images so you can get an idea of what you’ll see. The best time of year is probably January through May, but you can find opportunities year round – if you’re lucky and do your research.
Belted Kingfisher, Viera Wetlands, March 2018
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
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 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 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 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 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!
The scene below is not the one I thought I would photograph when we returned to Space View Park in Titusville, Florida last week.
Looking north at the Max Brewer Causeway before dawn – This condo is right at the entrance to the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I’d love to wake up there every morning!
You may remember this post from a few weeks ago. That was a very foggy day and there were no real sunrise photo opportunities. I wasn’t too happy with the landscape photos I made on that trip and wanted to try again. This time, when we arrived before dawn, the first thing I noticed was the lighting on the Max Brewer Causeway leading to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. When I walked over to get a better look and perhaps make a photo, the reflection of the building in the water caught my eye. I like how this turned out.
This photo illustrates why paying attention to the photographic application of three words could result in more photo ops for you:
Perseverance: Continued effort to do or achieve something despite difficulties, failure, or opposition; Keep trying until you can fulfill your vision; Circumstances change and you may not get the photo you want on your first try (or your second …). This was our second visit to Space View Park recently. I still haven’t gotten a sunrise photo I’m truly happy with at this place. I guess I’ll have to go back again!
Providence: Having foresight; care or preparation in advance; Try to anticipate conditions so you’re ready to take advantage of them. Have the right equipment with you and know how to use it. I had my tripod, cable release, and wide-angle lens ready for this shot.
Perspicacity: The capacity to assess situations or circumstances shrewdly and to draw sound conclusions; Be able to react when the situation you anticipated isn’t what happens. Have an open mind and look for images that you didn’t consider in your planning. I didn’t just concentrate on the sunrise to the east. I also looked around for other photogenic scenes.
After sunrise we also saw a common loon fishing very close to the docks.
Later on, we came across a couple of Belted Kingfishers that were more cooperative than usual.
Belted Kingfisher lady poses – These usually fly away from me as soon as I point a lens at them. This one was lazy or tired and sat still for a portrait.
Another fine day with a camera on Merritt Island!
If you think about the three words above, maybe they’ll help you come away with some photos you wouldn’t other wise get. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
Our local photography club organized an expedition to Viera Wetlands yesterday. It was one of our larger outings, with 8 people from the group there, including one new member. We arrived just after sunrise and spent a little over 2 hours exploring the main site, and also took a quick tour of the click ponds.
Great Blue Heron: These birds aren’t nesting yet, but they do seem to be reserving their spots.
Wow – what a day for avian variety and nature lovers! The weather was quite nice too – sunny with temperatures in the 50s. There isn’t much nesting going on yet, but we did see an amazing number of both year-round and winter visitor species. Several of these birds are difficult to spot and / or photograph well and it helps to make multiple circuits of the wetlands. It also really helps to have multiple sets of eyes watching for and pointing out interesting things. About the only thing we struck out on was the River Otters, but we did hear others talking about them – so they were around somewhere.
Belted Kingfisher: There were several of these at Viera Wetlands yesterday. They generally stayed out in the middle of the cells and so were hard to photograph.
We’re really blessed in Central Florida with many places that photography and nature enthusiasts can visit. The Photography Interest Group took another trip to Black Point Wildlife Drive yesterday. There was a lot to see.
I used a 750mm effective focal length lens to shoot this sunrise photo. I like the transparent look of the trees in front of the sun.
A 4 shot panorama.
Kevin McKinney (who has the knack for spotting things) let us know there were kingfishers in the area. I saw this one (my first ever) and made a very quick photo hand-held out the window at 750mm (eq). Thank goodness for optical stabilization! It was terribly back-lit, but the best I could do. It flew off as soon as we opened the door, living up to their reputation for being very skittish.
Like the previous time I was there, we saw many spoonbills. This one posed for us for a while. It wasn’t until I got home that I noticed the fishing line wrapped around its bill. Please, please think twice before you throw anything in the water.
3/22/10 update: Good news! Kevin Krause reports that the fishing line was gone a little later.
A beautiful bird. I hope it can get the fishing line untangled from its upper bill.
And finally, here’s another gator eye photo. In this one you can see both Keith and Ed in the upper right.