According to Wikipedia, Shakespeare was referring to “a medieval belief that fish were so mesmerised by the osprey that they turned belly-up in surrender”.
Looking at those eyes, it’s no wonder people thought the birds could hypnotize their prey into surrendering. This looks like a piercing stare, but it was really just a passing glance in my direction from about 100 feet away. Luckily, I wasn’t fully under its spell and still managed to make a photo!
And check out the muscles and long curved claws on its feet! It’s hard to imagine even a slippery fish escaping from a grip like this.
A common and totally awesome bird – sovereignty of nature indeed!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – make some photos.
I think MINWR lives up to these definitions and I’m grateful that it’s close by and has stayed open. Even as the pandemic here in the USA continues to worsen, a visit there seems very safe to me. Lots of fresh air, with just a few socially distanced people. And interesting landscapes and wildlife to see and photograph – and divert me from the 24/7 news cycle.
Anyway, our weather has been a bit strange here in Central Florida. We’ve had lots of rain showers and strong winds too, so I wasn’t sure what the conditions would be like. My weather app said there’d be some clouds (good for sunrise photos!) so I got up at zero dark thirty and headed over to the St. Johns River boat ramp on HW 50.
A windy morning on the St. Johns River
The air here is still on most mornings. But in this photo you can see nearby grass blowing and the water motion smoothed out from my 3s shutter speed. As I was photographing, an owl swooped in and landed about ten feet away. It only stayed for a few seconds as it looked me over. It was very dark, I was a bit startled, and I didn’t have the right lens on – so I didn’t even try to make a photo. But it was a very cool moment.
When I got to MINWR I made a pass around Black Point Wildlife Drive. Maybe it was too early, but I didn’t see much. Then I went over to drive through Gator Creek Road and it was roped off – I’m not sure why. This page says Catfish Creek and Peacocks Pocket are closed due to hurricane damage, but doesn’t mention Gator Creek Road. Maybe it was because of a rocket launch – we’ve had quite a few recently.
The wildlife photography part of my trip wasn’t going very well. Before I headed home, I decided to go through Black Point one more time and I’m very glad I did. The second pass was much better!
There are more winter birds showing up now than last time I was there. Kingfisher’s are notoriously flighty, but for some reason this one sat still for me – of course I wish it’d been closer!
Northern Flickers are always a treat. I wasn’t sure that’s what this was until I got home. It was severely back lit and I couldn’t see any detail until I looked at it on the computer (with the shadows slider cranked up).
There were several of this next one flying around over the marsh. I was pretty sure they were Northern Harriers – the white rump is distinctive. I don’t see these very often and I enjoyed reading about them when I looked them up again. They hunt with both hearing and sight and have evolved stiff feathers around their ears to help direct the sound. They also have soft feathers elsewhere to reduce their flight noise – leading to their nickname “Gray Ghost”. You can read more at this link: https://www.audubon.org/news/northern-harrier.
Gray Ghost (Northern Harrier)
Here’s one last photo. Reddish Egrets are one of my favorite birds and I usually spot one or two along Black Point. I’m including it because this is the first time I’ve seen one perched up on a branch – they must do this all the time, right? This photo is worth a click to view on Flickr. You should be able to zoom in there with additional clicks to see a lot of up close detail. This post is getting too long or I’d tell you how I made this 40 MP image with my 24 MP camera. Maybe next time.
I saw a pair of Bald Eagles, Yellow-rumped Warblers (also winter visitors), a few (far away) Roseate Soonbills, a Red-bellied Woodpecker, Anhingas, Double-Crested Cormorants, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Black and Turkey Vultures, many Ospreys, gulls and terns, and others too, although I’m sure I missed many. I also saw what might have been a vole scurry across the road. Lucky for it one of those Harriers wasn’t close by.
A good trip. I guess I’m glad Gator Creek Road was closed and I had to make a second pass on Black Point!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. If you have a National Wildlife Refuge near you, consider exploring it – in a safe, socially distanced way. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can – make some photos.
I like the view at this place on the back portion of Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. I’ve photographed it several times, but this image is my favorite from that spot so far.
Pond, grass, tree-line, and clouds
The small pools of water aren’t always there next to the road, but on that day this one was reflecting some of our gorgeous Florida clouds and adding interest in the foreground. The grassy wetland, tree line, and distant clouds complete the image for me. I used my IR modified Olympus E-M5 II in high resolution mode and made two frames that I stitched together into a vertical 1×1 panorama.
You’ve seen this next image before. It’s the last one in this post, and it’s from about 20 feet away and two minutes later on the same day.
Black Point vista
When I was going through photos after that trip, I liked ‘Black Point vista‘ so much that I didn’t even process the other one. Now, I still like it, but I’m very glad I came back and re-looked at ‘Pond, grass, tree-line, and clouds‘. I feel it’s a stronger image. What do you think?
Things change so it’s worth re-visiting places. While you’re there, it’s worth moving yourself and your camera around and trying several compositions. And when you get home, it’s worth taking a second look at all your images so you don’t miss a good one!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Please stay safe out there and take care of each other. And if you’re in the USA and haven’t yet voted, please do so. Then you can make some photos.
The master copy of the image below is made from multiple frames that I stitched together into a panorama. It ended up being ~196 megapixels. I used a 70mm lens, so the equivalent focal length is about 35mm. Looking at it another way, the tree line along the horizon is probably a couple of miles in length.
A calm, cloudy morn
Especially at this time of year, if you can zoom in to almost any image like this you’ll see dragonflies moving around or perched on leaves. Look closely at this crop from near the center of the first image and you can just make out two of them resting on reeds.
The next photo is a single frame I made a few minutes earlier with another camera / lens at ~1400mm eq. focal length.
Four-Spotted Pennant (?)
So in terms of lens magnification, it’s about a 40x zoom. In terms of distance shown, it’s a few inches vs. a couple of miles or ~20,000 times smaller. Either way, quite a change in scale and two unique ways to show the environment and inhabitants.
As I was starting home from Merritt Island National Wildlife refuge yesterday morning, I decided to make one last stop along the causeway. Looking around, I noticed something in the distance rolling around in the water. I couldn’t tell what it was and I wasn’t carrying the long lens, so I walked over to the car to get it. I thought it’d be gone by the time I got back but it wasn’t. This is the first image I made:
What it that?
I still couldn’t see it really well in the view finder. I thought it might be a manatee’s head or maybe even part of a dolphin. Then I saw this:
Cormorant vs. fish
So now I knew what it was! The bird struggled for several minutes trying to swallow that huge fish. It would hold it under water for a while (changing its grip?) before bringing it back up in the air. It eventually got it arranged just right and managed to get it all down. This was the fish’s final view of things – Circle of Life.
Eye to eye
The weather on this trip was somewhat unusual. I almost always go over there in the mornings. One reason why is that it hardly ever rains early in the day. Most of our rain comes down in afternoon thunderstorms. But this time there was a big downpour as I drove around Black Point Wildlife Drive and even a rainbow!
Overall, birds are still a bit scarce out there. I did see some of our usual ones including Pie Billed Grebes, a Red-shouldered Hawk, Ospreys, Great and Snowy Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Tri-colored and Little Blue Herons, Mourning Doves, Common Gallinules, American Coots, a few gulls and terns, Anhingas, and (of course) Cormorants. And Jim Boland reports that there are two Bald Eagles hanging out near stop 11 on BPWD although I wasn’t looking for them and didn’t spot them. I also saw a few fast, un-identified tiny birds (UTBs?), a Belted Kingfisher, and some Blue-winged Teals – so maybe more winter visitors will arrive soon.
I’ll leave you with one more photo from the trip. I stitched this together from 21 frames made with my IR modified camera. I’m not sure who / what left that vehicle track there – maybe rangers doing some maintenance? Seems like a great place to get stuck. Anyway I think this gives you an idea of the landscape in the area.
Black Point vista: Monochrome, IR, stitched panorama
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. I hope you all are staying safe, and taking care of yourselves, your friends, and your families. And if you don’t recognize something, keep watching – you might get a photo out of it!
Sometimes, I try to be clever and people ignore me – which may be a good thing.
I noticed a Bottlenose Dolphin making a fuss hunting for fish – big splashes and noise. I was too slow to catch that ruckus, but a few minutes later I made this photo as it swam through calm water in front of colorful early morning reflections on Gator Creek and left interesting patterns in its wake.
A wake at dawn
I posted it to Flickr and expected people to moan about the pun in the title, but crickets about that. Maybe it would have worked better as “Awake at dawn”. Dunno. I suppose I should leave the comedy to professionals. At least I didn’t get a bunch of nasty comments about it!
Here are two more images from that trip. This one is nearby, about 15 minutes earlier.
Restful rays, distant clouds, and a calm creek
And this one is two hours later, along Black Point Wildlife Drive.
Clouds over the marsh
My drive to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge was rewarding once again and well worth the time. No wonder it’s a favorite place for me!
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I hope all of you are staying safe – take care of yourselves, your friends, and your families. And if you can, make some photos, and even some bad puns!
Editors note: The blog has been up and down all morning. My hosting provider (inmotionhosting.com) says they’re having “connection issues”. I couldn’t even get a chat window to open with their support team – frustrating!
It’s back on line right now so I’m going to take this opportunity to quickly post something. Just a photo I like – I hope you like it too. And I hope my blog stays on line so you can see it!
Ibis and Egret
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there, cherish your friends and loved ones, and take care of each other. And if you can – make some photos!
Yay -this week I did “get out and make some new photos”! However, these images I came home with are of the same subjects that I photographed in our yard and posted about last week: A storm and two birds. It’s almost like there’s something strange and metaphysical going on (– probably not).
First the storm:
Light show across the water
I set out very early Thursday towards Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge with no clear idea about where I’d try to photograph sunrise. I noticed a few flashes of lightning off across the river and stopped under the causeway to watch for a minute. I ended up staying longer and making a series of 15 – 30 second exposures. Most just show a dark cloud, but I caught a few mid-strike. I was glad I had my “go-to landscape lens” on the camera. It’s a 24 -105 mm and had the reach I needed to show off these far away clouds. My second most used landscape lens is a 16 -35 mm and wouldn’t have worked as well.
Pretty in Pink
There was a lot of water around Black Point Wildlife Drive and it seemed like there are a few more birds now than there have been recently. This was the only Roseate Spoonbill I saw anywhere that morning. I wish it had been a little closer (I always wish that). On the other hand, it was a very calm bird and posed nicely as I tried to make a good image. I like the fall looking colors on the vegetation around the pond. Maybe soon we’ll have some cooler weather.
Pretty light on a Reddish Egret in flight
I’ve often seen a Reddish Egret hanging out on the first half of Black Point. This time there were several of them on the second half. I think the light on this one flying by in front of me is very nice.
Anyway, although these are the same subjects as last week they are very different images. I think they’re worth posting. I hope you like them too.
sur·prise: noun: an unexpected or astonishing event, fact, or thing verb: cause (someone) to feel mild astonishment or shock synonyms: astonishment, amazement, incredulity, wonder
One reason I like photography is because it often pleasantly surprises me. If you do a search on this blog (https://edrosack.com/?s=surprise). you’ll find I’ve used the word many times. Today I have a couple more examples, so lets discuss photo surprises again.
Jumping fish sunrise
The title of this one gives away the surprise. Of course, it’s not unusual for fish to jump out of the water. I was set up for landscape photography, not wildlife or action and I didn’t notice the fish that morning so I hadn’t tried to time my shutter to include it. When I started processing the photo on my computer I was amazed that my camera recorded the fish (a mullet?) mid jump. I think it adds interest to the photo. A small wonder, but a good one. Here’s a closer look.
This second image is a different kind of surprise.
First Light on Wetland Wildflowers
I was on Black Point Wildlife Drive and saw that beautiful light on the clouds. When I got out of the car to make a photo, I noticed those nearby wildflowers and wanted to include them – it was a difficult task. The exposure for the flowers would be very different from the sky. And getting everything in focus in one frame would also be hard. I decided to make three vertical frames (adjusting focus and exposure in each one) and then try blending them together into a single panorama image when I got home.
I wasn’t hopeful. On top of capture issues, I knew the blending would be hard too. The flowers were very close and would change perspective against the open marsh when the camera moved. And any motion from wind would cause ghosting or other issues. I made the frames anyway – it was worth a try. I didn’t think it would turn out this well – an unexpected success!
You can click on the first and last photos to view larger versions on Flickr.
Changing the subject, Tropical Storm Isaias is heading toward Central Florida. Our skies are blue and cloud free right now. Later today it’s expected to be a lot closer and we might get some strong weather beginning this afternoon. Lynn and I have done our hurricane prep and are hoping it stays out to sea and doesn’t get too bad. We also hope all of you anywhere near the projected path are prepared too.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Hang in there and take care of each other. And if you can – make some surprising photos!
Here are a few photos from a short trip over to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last week. I spent most of my time on Black Point Wildlife Drive. This first one is a six frame, handheld, infrared, black & white panorama looking along the road near the entrance just after dawn.
What’s around the bend?
I heard these Common Nighthawks before I spotted them. Several were calling and flying near the road about half way around the drive. They’re very fast flyers, erratic and hard to track. They spend summers in Florida but this is the first time I’ve been able to photograph them – although I’ve heard them and seen them briefly before (over at Lake Louisa).
A nice surprise
Gators are frequent down here and I don’t often stop to photograph them anymore. I thought it was worth a snap this time since it was posing nicely and looking at me like I’d make a tasty meal.
Speaking of tasty meals, just up the road from the Alligator, I spotted two of these rabbits foraging in the grass. I stayed in my car and this one was very cooperative. But they should really be cautious around that gator!
Enjoying a snack – A Marsh Rabbit chowing down on some greens
I had this Osprey perfectly framed – before it took off. Turns out I was a little too close, which doesn’t happen very often in wildlife photography (at least for me). Even though I clipped the wings, I still like the image, so I’m including it.
This time of year is very hot and things to see and photograph can be a little sparse. It’s probably not a popular time to visit BPWD. I only saw two other people on the drive while I was there. But I’m glad I I decided to go over. Even if I hadn’t see anything, a little time out there in nature is a welcome distraction from ‘doomscrolling’ the pandemic.
A few updates – if you go, make sure to check on things before you leave:
They’re collecting fees again on BPWD.
Traffic was single lane and slow around some construction on the A. Max Brewer Memorial Parkway leading into the refuge.