Tag Archives: Green Heron

Black Point Reconnaissance

Kevin M. invited me to go out photographing with him last weekend, but I begged off since Lynn and I had just returned from Pennsylvania and I was tired.  Instead we went out on Friday to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  Kevin K. was in town and he tagged along too.  It’s been over six months since the three of us have been on a photo excursion together.  Much too long!

We met way too early and car-pooled over, stopping at Titusville Marina Park for sunrise.  Riding together is great for catching up with friends!

Dawn on the Indian RiverDawn on the Indian River

Dawn was subdued until the sun actually rose, when the color finally popped.   Photoshop and the Topaz Clarity plug-in might’ve helped nature out a little too.

We saw several other photographers (and non-photographers) also out too early.

Early startEarly start on a calm, lovely morning

In general, summer isn’t the best time of year to bird in Central Florida – but there are exceptions to every rule-of-thumb.  For instance, Kathy B. found a Clapper Rail on Black Point at the end of June, and D. Cunningham enjoyed seeing the Swallow Tail Kites that visit us before heading to South America for the winter.

We didn’t spot any unusual birds on Friday, but we did enjoy photographing a few of the common ones.  This “Swamp Chicken” was posing with its reflection in good light;

Swamp ChickenCommon Gallinule

And so was this Tri-colored Heron:

Tri-color HeronTri-colored Heron

… and this Green Heron too (although it wasn’t kind enough to include a reflection):

Green HeronGreen Heron

We’ve been having torrential rains nearly every afternoon. and the water is very high around Black Point.   The St. Johns river is also high – the area around where it crosses SR 46 is flooded although it doesn’t come all the way up to the road.  I hope we don’t get a hurricane any time soon – adding even more water could be dangerous.

And the rain has created a great environment for mosquitos – expect to get bit unless you wear some repellent.

One more  (small, kind of sad) story.  We saw two pigs at Black Point.  The second was along the canal near the exit.  I snapped a few photos of it and when I got home and looked at them the poor thing was obviously deformed.  I don’t want to post my images, but if you’re curious, look at Kevin K’s photo.   It doesn’t look like a recent injury – this little pig is a tough survivor.  I wonder if it’s a birth defect or from an encounter with an alligator or other predator?

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Point Wildlife Drive – May 8, 2018

Kevin K. and I went over to Black Point Wildlife Drive last Tuesday.  The water levels were low and although we saw quite a few birds, many of them were far from the road and hard to photograph.  Here are some images from the trip that I like.

Hunter's DanceHunter’s Dance – A Reddish Egret stalks fish in the marsh

These Egrets have a distinctive dance they use to scare up fish.  It seems to work for them!

Morning minnow mealMorning minnow meal

Green Herons use a different technique.  This one was wading carefully through the mangrove roots on the side of a canal looking for a snack.

Stalking in the MangrovesStalking in the Mangroves

And finally, here’s a photo of a Great Egret taking off from a tree beside the trail.

Great Egret LaunchGreat Egret Launch

This one was a little slow – normally birds are gone by the time I get my camera ready!

You can click on these photos to see larger versions on Flickr.  My Black Point photos are collected in this album on Flickr:  https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157622920465437.  And you can read more blog posts about Black Point at this link:  https://edrosack.com/tag/bpwd/.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Circle B Bar Reserve – February 20, 2016

Surprisingly, it’s been 2 1/2 years since I’ve been to the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida.  Surprising because although it is a longer drive for me, it’s such a wonderful place.  Every time I go, I realize again that it’s well worth the time.

Anyway, four of us from the Photography Interest Group woke up very early (me at 4:25 am!) and headed over.  Sunrise wasn’t as colorful as some mornings are, but the calm winds made for nice reflections.

Calm morningCalm morning – Looking west before sunrise

When we had enough light, we all shifted to birding mode and explored.  The temperature was just right for walking around.  We saw many warblers in the trees and bushes –  I think most were Yellow-rumped, but I’m not so good with IDs on smaller birds.

U lookin' at me?U lookin’ at me? Yellow-rumped Warbler

And the canals were full of wading birds looking for breakfast.

Green HeronGreen Heron

In spots the surface of the water was completely covered with duckweed, but incredibly the birds still managed to grab small minnows.

Snowy Egret and minnowSnowy Egret and minnow

I saw another egret pounce and come up with a stick, but as I watched it dropped the stick and kept and swallowed the minnow that was also in its beak – amazing skills!

We also saw a good variety of other birds including some less common ones:  hawks, Osprey, a Barred Owl, Cardinals, Belted Kingfishers, Sandhill Cranes,  Caspian Terns, a Black Crowned Night Heron, an American Bittern, a Carolina Wren, a Sora, a Swamp Sparrow, American Robins, an Eastern Phoebe, and others.

On the way out we parked for a few minutes to meet some famous new arrivals.

Great Horned Owl nest and chicksGreat Horned Owl nest and chicks

It wasn’t hard to find this nest – the tree was roped off, and a volunteer was doing a good job protecting the site and keeping all the photographers in order and back away from the birds!  It was nice to see these two little ones, and it was nice that all the people were polite and respected the bird’s space.

You can find more info and photos at these links:

The Circle B Bar Reserve is an extraordinary place – one of the many blessings we count here in Florida.  If you haven’t been there, go.

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

©2016, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island and Viera Wetlands

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and Viera Wetlands are two of my favorite places to photograph and I had time to visit both last week.  They’re each wonderful and seem similar, yet they can be very different.  When I was at MINWR, it was very quiet with few birds or other wildlife around.  July isn’t the best time for birds in Central Florida, so I wasn’t expecting much.

Blackpoint dawnBlack Point dawn – I’ve seen this area along Black Point Wildlife Drive in MINWR full of birds. Not last week.

On the other hand, Viera Wetlands was full of activity.  Right away, we saw a couple of Osprey fishing:

Osprey with catchOsprey with catch at Viera – always fun to see and a thrill to get a good, in focus photo

And as we walked around we saw Sand Hill Cranes, a Caracara, Grackles, Red-winged Blackbirds, Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, Swamp Chickens (Common Gallinules), a Red-bellied Woodpecker, Least Bitterns, Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, White Ibis, and Green Herons.

Green HeronGreen Heron at Viera – posing nicely in very good light

My friend Kevin M. was with me, and he saw a Yellow-crowned Night Heron.  We also spotted a family of four otters crossing the road, and multiple Alligators.

Why did we see so much more at Viera than Merritt Island?  Was it the weather (don’t think it was much different)?  Time of day (we were there a bit later)?  Water type (fresh vs. brackish)?  Vegetation?  Kevin’s luck?

I really don’t know.  I’m just grateful I went to both places and got to see so much.  The moral of the story:  If one of your local photo spots is quiet, try a different one.  You never know what you’ll see.

I have more photos from Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge collected in this set on Flickr.  And more from Viera Wetlands in this set.

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

©2015, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Merritt Island – May 31, 2014

I made a quick trip to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge last weekend with Kevin M. and Lutfi S.   We stopped first at the Titusville marina for a sunrise photo.  The sky was so-so, but the calm wind gave us very nice reflections in the water

Morning at the marina
Morning at the marina

Next, along Gator Creek Road we found a group of preening Roseate Spoonbills.  I liked the contrast between their pink and the blue sky reflected in the water.

Preening Spoonbills
Preening Spoonbills

Later at the Visitor Center, we found a great many butterflies.  They seem to like these Buttonbrush plants.

Gulf Fritillary
Gulf Fritillary

And Green Herons were common too, especially at the rest area on Black Point Wildlife Drive where we saw several nests and juveniles.  This one (also at the Visitors Center) drew my eye as it posed against the silver-like water while it waited to strike an unwary fish.

Green Heron in a silver pond
Green Heron in a silver pond

With the hot weather starting to arrive, there’s not as much activity at Merritt Island as there sometimes is. But there’s still a lot to see and photograph.

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

©2014, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

Viera Wetlands – February 19, 2013

Most people just call the Ritch Grissom Memorial Wetlands near Viera, Florida “Viera Wetlands”, although I’m sure they mean no disrespect to Mr. Grissom.  I hadn’t been there in a while, and since it’s one of my favorite places I took a trip down to check on things last week – it didn’t disappoint.

On the way, I stopped by Kelly Park in Merritt Island for sunrise.  I’m not sure if this Great Blue Heron was really getting ready to fish, or just enjoying the beautiful, pre-sunrise light, but I was glad it waded into my photo.

The early birds get the fish
The early birds get the fish – Looking east over the Banana River from Kelly Park in Cocoa, just before dawn.

At Viera Wetlands, I got to watch this otter’s antics as it enjoyed a dirt bath in the road:

River Otter dust bath
River Otter dust bath – I watched it rolling around in the dirt on the road for a while. When it had enough, it stood up, shook itself off, and moved back into the water.

I also watched this scene and although I felt badly for the frog, I guess I should feel good for the bird:

This doesn't end well for the frog.
Hooded Merganser catches frog at Viera Wetlands – This doesn’t end well for the frog.

I don’t see Green Herons as often as some of the other herons and egrets, so it was nice to watch a number of them in the reeds along the sides of the berms.  This pose is typical of one of their hunting techniques.  They’ll perch frozen on the water’s edge and wait for prey to come within striking distance.  Green Herons are reportedly one of the smartest birds.  I haven’t seen the behavior, but they’re said to drop small bits of food or insects onto the water to attract fish.

Concentration
Concentration – A Green Heron stalks its prey.

Viera is a great place to see Great Blue Herons courting, nesting, and raising young and there are several pairs active now.  I saw one nest with very small chicks already hatched.  I also saw many of the regulars there including alligators, Great Egrets, Tri-color Herons, Scaups, Coots, Red-winged Blackbirds, and others.  On the way out I also took a turn around the Click ponds, but didn’t notice anything I hadn’t already found in the main areas.  A great trip and well worth the time!

Click on the photos to go to Flickr, where you can see larger versions (the otter photo especially where you can see all the dirt it’s flung around) .  You can also see more photos from Viera Wetlands in this set on Flickr.  And I have many older posts about Viera Wetlands  – you can look through them from this link.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

MINWR is a big place!

I’m extremely fortunate to live near the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, and the more I learn about it, the bigger and better it seems. I’ve been going to Black Point Wildlife Drive for several years, but only recently started exploring other locations in the Refuge. If you only have a short time to visit, Black Point is a great place to see – but there’s so much more. If you have time, visit East Gator Creek Road, Shiloh Marsh Road, Bio-Lab Road, Scrub Ridge Trail and other areas. Look here for maps of these and other MINWR trails.

Kevin M., Lutfi and I were in place on East Gator Creek Road this morning in time for sunrise. It was my first time at this spot and I was very happy with the views. Highly recommended for sunrise shots!

Merrit Island Sunrise
Merritt Island Sunrise

Next, we drove up to Shiloh Marsh Road. We were able to drive in only a short distance from either end before the way was blocked by chains – I think for duck hunting season. If you decide to drive this road, check to make sure it’s open and make sure your vehicle has plenty of ground clearance. There are some grand canyon sized potholes out there.

After Shiloh, we drove Black Point Wildlife Drive. This road was resurfaced this year and is in very good shape. Not too many potholes here.

Little Green Heron in flight
Little Green Heron in flight; I made this photo very close to the same spot a few weeks ago – is this the same bird?

Finally, we headed over to the MINWR Visitor Center to see if the Painted Buntings had arrived for the winter. But it was closed too – we’re not sure why.

Today was a wonderful day for wildlife and nature watching. We saw Spoonbills, Ospreys, Redish Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Black Vultures, Turkey Vultures, Lesser Yellowlegs, Willets, Little Green Herons, Belted Kingfishers, Tri-Color Herons, Snowy Egrets, Great Egrets, Crabs, a deer, flowers, Bald Eagles, Ibis, European Sparrows, Cormorants, Anhingas, Cardinals and butterflys among other things.

Butterfly and flower
Butterfly and flower

For more info on MINWR, this search will bring up other things I’ve written about it. And you can view some other photos I’ve made at the Refuge on Flickr here, and here.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
©2011, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Return to Black Point

The last time we were at Black Point Wildlife drive was back in May (http://edrosack.com/2009/05/16/birds-scarce-at-black-point-wildlife-drive-water-levels-down/) when water levels were down and there were very few birds anywhere around.

Yesterday, we made a return trip to see what the place is like after three months of almost daily rain in the Central Florida area.

We arrived right at sunrise, which was very pretty.
Sunrise reflections

Water levels are much improved: areas that were dry in May are once again filled.  However, we were disappointed by how few birds there were in the area.  My theory on this (which I didn’t come up with until the drive home) is that the severe drought in the area happened during nesting season and forced birds to build nests in other locations.  The nesting season lasts for several months and is just now ending, so it was premature for us to expect to see many birds back at Black Point until chicks have fledged.

I did manage to get nice photos of a green heron:
Green Heron in tree

And a Black-crowned night-heron:
Black-crowned Night-Heron

There were also some unusual flowers (1/14/2010 update – I think this is a “Spotted Bee Balm”):
Flower

And some very large (about 2 – 3 inches), horror show type spiders.  How would you like to walk through this web in the dark?
Wolf spider?

So, even without a large bird population it was still a nice trip with plenty to interest the Photography Interest Group.  And… there’s always Cracker Barrel on the way home!