Tag Archives: birds

Glad I Stayed!

There’s a fenced lot near the NW corner of the A. Max Brewer Memorial Parkway and County Road 3 in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. An old utility pole there has a nesting platform near the top. I’ve seen Great Horned Owls and Ospreys using the box before: (https://edrosack.com/2015/01/11/merritt-island-national-wildlife-refuge-172015/).

It’s probably way too late in the year to see the Owls nesting, but there’s a chance that the family could be near so I drove by hoping to spot something. When I slowed down and saw a bird on the nest, I was a bit disappointed that it was “just” an Osprey and almost didn’t stop. They’re common and seeing one isn’t as exciting as finding owls.

Nesting Ospreys 1 of 6: Mom and two chicksMomma* Osprey guarding two chicks

But I stopped anyway and waited a bit to see if the chicks would pop up a little so I could get a better photo of them. It was hard to see the chicks and I was thinking about leaving when I saw another bird off in the distance that turned out to be:

Nesting Ospreys 2 of 6: Dad brings home the groceriesDad bringing home the groceries

One of the chicks did show itself then, but neither one made a fuss and they weren’t calling out for food, so I think they must be pretty well cared for. I watched a little longer hoping to see them feeding and when that didn’t happen, I thought about leaving again. But then this:

Nesting Ospreys 3 of 6: Since Dad's back, Mom leaves on an errandSince Dad’s back, Momma leaves on an errand

I din’t have clue why she left. It turns out she must’ve discovered a weak spot in the nest, because it wasn’t long before she came back:

Nesting Ospreys 4 of 6: Mom returns with a stick to repair the nestMomma returns with a stick to repair the nest

And landed in the nest with the stick, very careful not to poke one of the chicks.

Nesting Ospreys 5 of 6: Mom carefully lands back at the nest with her stickMomma carefully lands back at the nest with her stick

Which she moved into place to repair the flaw she’d found.

Nesting Ospreys 6 of 6: Mom patching the nestMomma patching the nest

I was there for about a half hour and these six photos cover a total time span of only 5 1/2 minutes. I was very lucky and excited that this family shared all this activity with me. Maybe Nature was trying to teach me a lesson: Slow down, stay a while, observe. You might see something wonderful. And it doesn’t have to be an owl!

*I’m not an expert when it comes to telling male and female Ospreys apart. But I think I’ve got it right in this post based on behavior and markings. See this link for some more info: https://hawkwatch.org/blog/item/1016-telling-osprey-sexes


Winter Park Osprey nest: On a related note, Jean Thomas commented (in this post: https://edrosack.com/2022/04/24/busy-birds/) that she went by that nest on April 25th and there was one chick that seemed about two weeks old. She’d heard that there were two seen there earlier. I went by on May 3rd and the nest was abandoned. Sad to know, but not all nests are successful every year.


Tomorrow is Memorial Day in the US: It’s our opportunity to remember those that have sacrificed so much to defend our country. Please honor them with a moment of silence, a reverent act or a thoughtful gesture of thanks.


Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. Honor the fallen. And whenever you can, stay for a while and make some photos. Nature might reward you!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved


Fewer Birds – Follow-up

NOTE: This post is a bit of a downer. If that’s not your thing today, feel free to look at the photos and move on. But if you’re interested in nature, wildlife, and conservation – please read.

Back in March, I wrote this post about using eBird.org to try to figure out whether there are fewer American Avocets at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge now than there used to be.

Good MorningGood Morning*

I enjoyed doing the research and learning more about how to use eBird. But my conclusion at the time was:

“Is there a way to determine the accurate numbers? Sorry – I couldn’t find one. But I’ll keep looking and let you know.”

Well I kept looking and I’ve found some things to share. A while back, MK told me about a report she heard on NPR’s Fresh Air – Dave Davies interviewing Scott Weidensaul about his new book A World On the Wing. It sounded interesting and I was excited when MK got me a copy of the book for my birthday. I’m about a third of the way through it now. I like the book and the writing, although much of the data it presents is disturbing.

Starting on page 146, Weidensaul describes finding out about a blockbuster analysis published in the September 2019 issue of Science magazine: Decline of the North American avifauna (the article is paywalled, but if you sign up for a free account you can read it). I’ll quote here from the abstract:

“Using multiple and independent monitoring networks, we report population losses across much of the North American avi- fauna over 48 years, including once-common species and from most biomes. Integration of range-wide population trajectories and size estimates indicates a net loss approaching 3 billion birds, or 29% of 1970 abundance.”

Abstract, Decline of the North American avifauna, Science, Vol. 366, No. 6461, 19 Sep 2019, pages 120 – 124

The article doesn’t speak specifically of Avocets, but does say that shorebirds “are experiencing consistent, steep population loss.” So I think that probably answers my original question.

Clouds over Gator CreekClouds over Gator Creek*

And it raises many more questions. These losses are massive and the causes are varied and complex. They range from climate change impacts along migration routes, to land development. What can we do about it? I hope we’ll figure that out and make sure all of our decisions account for future impacts. Then maybe someday our grandchildren will see at least as many Avocets as we do.

*These two photos don’t have much to do with the subject. But since this is a photo blog I try to always have some in each post. I guess you could say they do illustrate the idea though – there are no birds in them.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And support conservation efforts, so we can still make some bird photos in the future.

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

First flight?

Robert Wilson and I watched and photographed at this nesting tree for a couple of hours on our April 18th trip to Centennial Park in Holly Hill.

Nesting tree panoNesting tree pano

It was hard to keep track of all of the activity. Whenever I looked at this nest on the right side at the top of the tree, there were always two or three of the juvenile herons there. So I’m not sure if they were taking turns or only one of them has fledged so far. Anyway, I was fortunate to catch this moment about halfway through our stay:

Look at that! Should we try?Look at that! Should we try?

It really looks like only one of three siblings has fledged and the other two seem to be watching in astonishment. Or envy. Or admiration.

Or maybe the two in the nest are just worried about a crash landing!

Thanks for stopping by my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, hang around a nesting tree – and make some photos!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Busy Birds

Very busy birds! And in a lot of different places!

Seems like the nesting season is going full blast. I’ve been seeing them everywhere I go. Lake Apopka, Winter Park, Holly Hill, and Ormond Beach. Here are a few photos. The first two are from a Lake Apopka trip a few weeks ago :

Four or five nestsLake Apopka Nesting Tree (near the pump house). I could see four or five nests in this tree: Two Anhinga, a Cormorant and a Great Blue Heron. There’s also a Common Gallinule perched (or nesting?) in the lower left.

Great Blue Heron and chick(?)A close up of the Great Blue Heron nest in that tree. Some feathers sticking up from the bottom might be a small chick.

This next photo is from the Winter Park Osprey nest. I’ve checked on it several times this year and although it seems active, I haven’t been able to spot any eggs or chicks yet.

Winter Park OspreysWinter Park Ospreys: As of the afternoon of 4/19. I couldn’t see any sign of eggs or chicks in this nest. I’m going to try to go by again next week.

My friend Robert Wilson offered to show me one of his local spots: Centennial Park in Holly Hill. We went by last Monday and there was a lot of activity there too.

Osprey gathering nesting materialThis Centennial Park Osprey was gathering nesting material.

Nesting treeAnother nesting tree (Centennial Park). This one has five active nests: One Anhinga and four Great Blue Heron. These chicks are getting quite mature, with some already fledging.

Hungry youngsterHere’s a close up of the Anhiga nest in the tree above. Dad is feeding his very hungry youngster.

A stick for the nestThis nest in a close by tree is still under construction. The male just passed his mate a new stick to add.

And finally, Robert and I stopped by another spot up in Ormond Beach where he knew of a nesting Yellow-crowned Night Heron. It was hard to get a good photo, but it was exciting to see. These birds are a rare sight for me and to spot one in the nest was a treat!

Nesting Yellow-crowned Night HeronA Yellow-crowned Night Heron playing peek-a-boo from its nest in Ormond Beach.

You can click on any of these images to see higher resolution versions on Flickr.

It always amazes me what nature shows us if we go out and look. I wonder if you have some near by places like this where you could see some busy birds. We won’t know if you don’t go!

Thank you for reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, wander a bit out in nature – and make some photos while you’re there!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Mead Gardens (3-29-22)

After my Stroll in the Dark through downtown Winter Park, I stopped at the close by Mead Botanical Gardens for a second leisurely walk. It’s a 47 acre natural habitat preserve that’s popular with local birders and a relaxing place to wander. This Marsh Rabbit helped me out with an image to post on Easter:

Marsh RabbitAn Easter Bunny

And this pond always makes for a nice photo:

Pretty light on a placid pondPretty light on a placid pond

Mead Gardens is popular birding spot especially during migration. As I walked, I was trying in vain to let my nascent birding skills expose themselves. But then I heard an unfamiliar call…

When I took out my phone and tried sound ID on the Merlin Bird ID app, it said it was a Great Crested Flycatcher. I’d only seen one once before when Kevin M. pointed it out to me at Lake Apopka. The call was very distinctive and loud, so I used it to look for the bird. This one partially hidden and way up in a tree top seemed to be the one making the call:

Great Crested Flycatcher (?)

Certainly not my best photo ever, but an exciting find! And a great demo of how the awesome Merlin app amplifies even my birding knowledge. If you haven’t tried it yet, do so – it’s a free app.

You can look through my (sparse) posts about Mead Gardens at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/winter-park/mead-gardens/. And I’ve collected Mead Gardens photos here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157633035986416.

Thank you so much for stopping by my blog! Your visits, comments, and likes are always welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, wander a bit out in nature – and make some photos!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive

Kevin M. and I have been going out photographing together since 2008 or 2009. But we hadn’t done so for a while. When he invited me to go with him to Lake Apopka yesterday, I eagerly agreed.

The morning didn’t start well. The weather forecast was poor and the fog on the drive up was discouraging too. But we’d agreed to go “rain or shine” and sometimes things work out.

Kevin is a much better birder than I am, and it was a treat to ride along with him, catch up, and look for birds together. Two heads (and two sets of eyes / ears) are better than one and we ended up sighting 34 species (see the list below). Here are photos of some of the things we saw:

Finding bitterns is fun. They’re usually well hidden, but this one was right out in the open and in good light too!

Least BitternLeast Bittern

I don’t see Perigrines very often. It was way off in the distance but I managed to get an image ‘for the record’.

Perigrine FalconPerigrine Falcon

I first thought this next one was a Northern Harrier. Kevin had seen one just before. But thanks to a comment from Wally and a closer look, I think I was wrong about that.

Northern HarrierRed-shouldered HawkNorthern Harrier

Kevin pointed out this Common Gallinule (Moorhen) balancing on a reed and busily feeding on the seed head. It kept at it while we made some photos and looked like it was enjoying the snack.

Snacking MoorhenSnacking Moorhen

Purple Gallinules seem to like Lake Apopka.

Purple GallinulePurple Gallinule

I’d heard about Gray-headed Swamphens and seen some images on Flickr. But I hadn’t ever encountered one myself. They’re non-native birds that first started appearing in south Florida in the 1990s and are spreading north. They’re very distinctive and this one knew how to pose.

Grey-headed SwamphenGrey-headed Swamphen

Black-crowned Night-Herons were along the trail in a few spots. They were all in shadows back in the vegetation. This was the best photo I managed to make of one.

Black-crowned Night-HeronBlack-crowned Night-Heron

And finally, here’s a landscape photo of the pump house. I think the clouds we’d worried about add a lot of interest.

The PumphouseThe Pumphouse

It was a great trip – catching up with a good friend and letting nature show us her wonders. The weather improved for most of the morning and it didn’t start raining until after lunch. Here are 34 species we took note of:

American Coots, Anhingas, Barn Swallows,
Belted Kingfisher, Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks, Black-crowned Night-Herons,
Black-necked Stilts, Blue-winged Teals, Boat-tailed Grackle,
Cattle Egrets, Common Gallinules, Common Ground-Doves,
Double Crested Cormorants, Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, Glossy Ibis,
Gray-headed Swamphens, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets,
Least Bitterns, Limpkins, Little Blue Heron,
Mourning Doves, Northern Cardinals, Northern Flicker,
Northern Harrier, Ospreys, Painted Bunting,
Peregrine Falcon, Purple Gallinules, Red-shouldered Hawk,
Red-winged Blackbirds, Snowy Egrets, Swamp Sparrow,
Tricolored Heron

And we also saw a lot of Alligators, several Marsh Rabbits, and a turtle.

If you click on these photos, you can view higher resolution versions on Flickr. And I have many more images from Lake Apopka in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157656060310175/with/24168732782/

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my blog! Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, go out photographing – with a friend!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved



Blue Skies

I complained a bit about our weather last week, and I do think we’ve been getting more than our normal share of clouds and rain. It doesn’t seem right though to grumble about a few gloomy days here in Central Florida when conditions in some other parts of the country and world are bad or worse.

Anyway, it isn’t quite “Nothing but blue skies do I see” around here, but we have had some very nice days recently. This week I’ll just show you a few photos of “Blue skies smiling at me” to prove it.

Blue Skies 1Ferns

Blue Skies 7Potted Plant

Blue Skies 6Palms

Trumpet Trees (Tabebuia) are plain most of the year. In the spring, they burst with blooms for a couple of weeks. The trees in the next two photos are already blending back into the landscape.

Blue Skies 3Pink Trumpet Tree

Blue Skies 2Yellow Trumpet Tree

Blue Skies 4Spanish Moss

Blue Skies 5Ball Moss and Ferns

Here’s one last image. It’s not “Blue birds singing a song” but I feel like this blackbird was enjoying the blue skies as much as I was.

Blue Skies 8Red-winged Blackbird

Thanks for stopping by and looking at my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, enjoy some blue skies photography.

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Mostly Shorebirds

Our weather’s been interesting – lots of rain and warmer than expected. Between that and other obligations, I’ve had a hard time practicing photography. Checking the forecast late on Thursday night, Friday looked like it would be halfway decent so I jumped at the chance to head out.

There were a few rain drops falling at first and it was overcast. But that made for some dramatic clouds when I stopped by the marina.

Impressive clouds over the marinaImpressive clouds over the marina

Later on it turned into a pretty nice day. I spent some time around Parrish Park watching all the shorebirds.

I like photos like this next one. Getting a flock of birds close by with a fast enough shutter speed and in focus isn’t easy though. This time most of the birds listened to me when I asked them to all fly by at the same distance!

A "grain" of SanderlingseeA “grain” of Sanderlings

I drove slowly along the shore and stayed in the car trying not spook the birds. I spotted several different ones and worked to isolate each one in the frame:

Semipalmated PloverSemipalmated Plover

Ruddy TurnstoneRuddy Turnstone

Dunlin Dunlin

MINWR was quieter than last time I was there. But shore birds were out over there too.

Lesser YellowlegsLesser Yellowlegs

I was sitting at this next spot when MaryKate called. The Killdeer were so loud she heard them through the phone and asked about them.

Killdeer Killdeer

Thistles are blooming on Black Point. They’re attractive photo subjects if you catch a colorful one in good light. A bee or butterfly helps too.

Busy beeBusy bee

There were other birds and wildlife around: the regular wading birds (herons and egrets), Alligators, Belted Kingfishers, Northern Shovelers, Blue-winged Teals, Caspian Terns, Black Skimmers, and I’m sure others that I missed. I also spotted a different looking hawk that the Merlin Bird ID app thinks is a Swainson’s Hawk (I’m not convinced).

Anyway, it was a wonderful visit and a very nice distraction from current events.

You can click on these photos to view larger versions on Flickr.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are always very welcome and a big motivator for me. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, practice some photography.

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Common Birds

We’re blessed here with a wide variety of birds. The eBird list for Central Florida (Orange, Seminole, Lake, Osceola, Volusia, and Polk counties) shows 443 species (https://ebird.org/barchart?byr=1900&eyr=2022&bmo=1&emo=12&r=US-FL-069,US-FL-095,US-FL-097,US-FL-105,US-FL-117,US-FL-127). The bars in the chart reveal which birds are here year-round and how often they’re seen / reported. Snowy Egrets are one of the most common.

Pretty PerchPretty Perch

I’ve seen a lot of them and you probably have too. Much of the time now, I glance their way and don’t make a photo. But every once in a while I’ll I come across a common bird in an uncommon situation or setting. It reminds me that I do need to pay attention – and make occasional photos of these very pretty, common birds.

This egret was calmly perched on a branch in still water. I was attracted to its pose, the light, and the mirror-like reflection. I made two frames for a vertical panorama so I could zoom in and capture as much detail as possible. Later on my computer I stitched them together into the image you see here. The header image is a crop from a B&W version of the same image.

Common birds can make splendid photo subjects. Don’t pass up the opportunities.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are very welcome and a big motivator for me. Be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Few More Photos

I really enjoyed my first visit of the year to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge a few weeks ago. Here are some more of those photos that haven’t been on the blog before.

The view that morning looking south east from under the Max Brewer Memorial Causeway bridge was lovely. I made several frames – the one below is my favorite. The header image is part of a similar one from five minutes later .

Three boats on the riverThree boats on the river

The low, warm, side light on this group of American White Pelicans made them even more attractive when I found them moments after sunrise.

A small pod of pelicansA small pod of pelicans

It’s always nice to encounter Roseate Spoonbills and they were in several spots along Black Point Wildlife Drive. This one flew almost directly over me.

Flight of the SpoonbillFlight of the Spoonbill

Cinnamon Teals are a rarity in Central Florida. This one seems to winter every year in MINWR. I found it again in the same spot along the Wild Birds Unlimited Trail that begins at stop 4 on the BPWD. It likes to hang out there with the other ducks. The birds were so harshly back lit that I had trouble seeing colors to ID it. I’m pretty amazed at how well this photo turned out.

Cinnamon TealCinnamon Teal

I got a fairly good view of this Kingfisher and he stayed still for a moment while I made a photo:

Belted KingfisherMale Belted Kingfisher

The ranger says the duck population is down this year, and it does look like they’re less numerous. But I did see a good variety including Blue-winged Teals, Northern Shovelers, Mottled Ducks, Ring-necked Ducks, and maybe a few Lesser Scaups. And all of our common birds were around too. Definately well worth a visit.

LIke always, you can click on these photos to see larger versions on Flickr. And you can view (too) many of my MINWR photos in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157627776386723

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Your visits, comments, and likes are very welcome and a big motivator for me. Be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved