To help celebrate, I thought I’d share some photos I’ve made of Florida Mothers and their babies. These are all wild animals / birds and they’re from several places over several years, so I’ll include where and when in the captions.
Momma gator guarding her nest and 4 (blurry) babies. Along La Chua Trail, Paynes Prairie Preserve State Park, Gainesville, FL, December 2006
Momma Sandhill Crane and chick foraging at Viera Wetlands, March 2017
Spoonbill Mom returns, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, May 2010
Great Horned Owl Mom and chick in the nest, Circle B Bar, March 2018
Momma Limpkin and baby, Circle B Bar Reserve, October 2013
Great Egret Mom and chicks, St. Augustine Alligator Farm, April 2011
It’s amazing how devoted Moms are, and it’s fascinating to watch them raise their babies.
You can click on these images to see larger versions on Flickr. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go spend time with your Mom!
I spotted this large fish (~2 1/2 feet long) resting near the shore. My long lens was stowed in my backpack and I knew it wouldn’t stay there long, so I quickly made a photo with my IR camera. If you click through to the larger version on Flickr, you can better see the small minnows swimming nearby.
Dragonflies are out and about. This is the first time I’ve noticed them this year.
And finally, here’s a photo of my walking companion. This bird joined me for a bit on my stroll around the park.
The park offers free Tram Tours on weekends – check their site for details. I much prefer to walk so I can pause and photograph any time I want and get a little exercise too.
Thanks for stopping by the blog. Now – go make some photos!
Kevin M. offered to help me scout for the Smooth-billed Ani that’s been seen at Viera Wetlands. I’ve wanted to get over there – so I readily agreed to meet him Friday Morning.
It was the first Friday the 13th of the new year, but our luck wasn’t completely bad. The day started early with some challenging light and fog at sunrise. I’m glad I brought my IR modified camera and used it to cut through the limited visibility. I did get one or two pleasing photos, including this one. But it’s a B&W sunrise! What’s up with that?
The boardwalk by the boat ramp in the fog – at SR 520 and the St. Johns River
Kevin led us right to the Smooth-billed Ani (thanks Kevin!). The light was still poor and we ended up coming back later for a better look / image. These aren’t normally found this far north in Florida and they’re unusual looking with a very large beak – fun to see. People have also reported a close relative (Groove-billed Ani) on Apopka Wildlife Drive.
We saw Scaups, Mottled Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Limpkins, White Pelicans, a Wilsons Snipe, a Great Horned Owl, Coots, Moorehens, Roseate Spoonbills, and Osprey among other things.
Hooded Merganser pair
Mom and juvenile Limpkin about to enjoy escargot
The light was spotty all morning with periods of rain. There were a couple of images I tried that didn’t work out. I’m going back soon to try again. NOTE: Their website says that Viera Wetlands is closed January 16 – 20. Plan accordingly.
Based on this post and my previous one, I think you can see that the bird activity has picked up here in Central Florida. It’s time to get out and enjoy our natural wonders.
Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog. Now, go make some photos!
Three of us from the Photography Interest Group visited the Circle B Bar Reserve in Lakeland, Florida last weekend. The Circle B is about 1 hour and 20 minutes from where I live, but it’s well worth the drive. I haven’t been over since last October – so I was eager to see what’s going on. We managed to get there before sunrise and were greeted with this scene:
We saw a lot of the regular resident wildlife including: Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Snowy Egrets, Ospreys, Red Shouldered Hawks, Black Bellied Whistling Ducks, Blue-Grey Gnatcatchers, Red Winged Blackbirds, Ibis, a few Alligators, lots of Apple Snails and eggs, lots of Dragon Flies, lots of Spiders, and a horde of hungry mosquitos! OK, I didn’t actually see the mosquitos – but I sure knew they were there! There were also a great many Limpkins, probably due to the abundance of Apple Snails.
Strolling Limpkin – I loved the light on this bird and the background. If she’d only turned her head just a bit more toward the camera. I guess some models are still learning “the moves”.
I was surprised to see baby Limpkins too. I didn’t realize that they breed year round. It was a treat to watch Mom feeding her chicks and see the chicks moving around trying to find snails for themselves.
Limpkin Chick – This little one climbed up on the reed and then had a hard time getting back down. The other three chicks stuck close to Mom. I think this one will be trouble.
In the not so usual category of wildlife, we saw a pair of Bald Eagles, a Fox (darn, too dark for a photo!), White Pelicans (they apparently stayed through the summer), and many small hard to ID Warblers (passing through on migration?).
It was a good visit. Much better than the foggy one last year when I hurt my foot. Now that cooler weather is starting to come through Florida we’ll have to go back more often.
It was getting foggy as we approached the parking area, but I wasn’t too worried – sometimes fog can add to a scene. We arrived in plenty of time, and walked out to Wading Bird Way (see this link for a .pdf map of the Circle B Bar trails). The closer we got, the foggier it became – and it looked like this right at dawn.
Frank, Lutfi, and Kevin M. in the fog at the Circle B Bar Reserve
To make a long story short – the fog was dense and dawn brought no color at all to the sky. There was no sunrise. We didn’t even see the sun until about an hour and a half later. Regular readers will know that I really like landscape photography and around dawn and dusk are the best times to photograph. With yesterday’s conditions, it just wasn’t meant to be. So what should you do in a situation like this?
First, enjoy the walk. Being out in nature is a wonderful experience and doesn’t have to include photography.
From a photographic perspective, what else can you do? For landscapes, try infrared – it can help cut though the fog, especially if you can include some foreground elements.
If you can get close, fog and mist can be a great background to isolate your subject.
And focus on details. Find some smaller things that you can zoom in on. Look for subjects enhanced by the mist.
Spider and misty web
Yes, not every photo expedition goes as planned. Yesterday’s sunrise was disappointing (non-existent?). But we saw and photographed many things: birds (Sand Hill Cranes, Egrets, Herons, Ibis, Osprey, Whistling Ducks, Hawks, Coots, Moorhens, a Purple Gallinule, Woodpeckers, and others), alligators, dragonflies, spiders, butterflies, and flowers while we were there. All in all, a great day. You can see more photos from the Circle B Bar in this set on Flickr, and check out Frank‘s, Kevin M.‘s, and Lutfi‘s too.
What do you do in situations like this? I’d love to hear your suggestions. Send me an email or add a comment to the blog.
Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!
The activity at Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Orlando Wetlands Park, and Viera Wetlands is slowing down now from the peak nesting and breeding season. Most of the young ones are hatched, grown, and fledged, although you can still find some amazing sights such as a White Eyed Vireo nest next to the boardwalk at the MINWR visitors center.
At BPWD the water is quite low. We found some concentrations of birds in a few of the areas that did have water including Redish Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, Great Egrets, Little Blue Herons, etc. There are also some juvenile Green Herons in the bushes by the rest rooms. But the ducks seem to be mostly gone – even the moorhens and coots. And we haven’t seen any Kingfishers lately either. We did see an Eastern Kingbird on BPWD, and a Northern Parula and Grey Catbird at the visitor center.
Wading Roseate Spoonbill – feeding at BPWD
Orlando Wetlands is quiet too – both people and birds. I was the only visitor when I went by last Thursday morning. I saw a solitary Swallow-tail Kite fly by briefly (too fast to get a photo). And there were plenty of Black-Bellied Whistling Ducks, some hawks, limpkins, herons and egrets – but again the most of the ducks seem have gone elsewhere.
Mom and kid Limpkin on a sunrise stroll
At Viera Wetlands we saw a few of the usual birds and there are still some GBH juveniles on nests. Terns and Ospreys were putting on a fishing demonstration. It’s fun to watch this behavior and it’s a good situation for Birds in Flight practice.
Blue Heron Portrait
And even if the birding is slowing down, you can always find some landscape photo ops around the area.
Drippy: I was scouting for new sunrise locations and got to the Cocoa Beach pier a bit late. I decided to make a photo anyway… Next time I’ll be there before dawn.
If you click on any of the photos, they’ll open in Flickr, where you can see larger versions. You can also see some of my previous photos from:
Lynn and I went out to Viera Wetlands this morning to survey the wildlife that’s around and so I could get a little more field testing in on the Nikon D7000. Once again, this great birding spot didn’t disappoint us and although the activity and number of birds were down a bit from their peak during the nesting season, we found plenty to see and photograph.
I’m shooting the D7000 in RAW & fine jpg mode, but using only using the jpg files until later when RAW is supported by ACR and Nikon CaptureNX2. So far, it’s definitely living up to my expectations. The combination of more pixels and improved sensitivity is a great for bird photography. Here’s one shot I did early in the morning, before the almost full moon set:
Great Egret, Ibis, and Moon, Nikon D7000, ISO 100
On this photo, I cheated a bit. The depth of field on the Sigma 150 – 500 @ 500mm and f/7.1 is too shallow to hold the moon in focus along with the tree and birds. So I made a second exposure focused on the moon and masked it in using Photoshop.
I set up the camera in auto-ISO mode and let it respond to the varying lighting conditions so that I could see how it performed over a range of ISO sensitivities. At ISOs up to 1000, there is very little noise. I need to do some comparisons with RAW files, but so far, it looks to me like the ISO performance of the D7000 is at least a 1/2 stop better than the D90. Here is one example from today at ISO 900:
A pair of Limpkins share a snail snack, Nikon D7000, ISO 900 (Try repeating that caption 3 times fast!)
Here is another, un-cropped photo of a Great Blue Heron:
Great Blue Heron keeps watch, ISO 280
One of the comments on these photos today on Flickr was “You’re lucky to be in an area with amazing wildlife.” I couldn’t agree more. And that’s just one of the many ways that I am so very lucky.
You can click on the photos above to view them on Flickr. I’ve also uploaded several more in this D7000 set on Flickr (sorry, no longer available). Many of them are in high-resolution so that you can better judge the image / camera quality. You can also view more photos I’ve made at Viera Wetlands here in this set.
The Photography Interest Group elected to return to Viera Wetlands this morning. Once again, it was a very nice visit. The weather was much better than last time. We had clear skies and plenty of light, although the road was chained closed due the recent rains – making it a walking visit only. Walking is better for us anyway.
One thing I definitely wanted to see was the masked duck that had been reported in the paper recently. Apparently, these are very rare in the area – and I’d never seen one. There are a lot of birders coming from as far as 2 hours away to add this one to their life list.
Here’s a few other photos from this morning.
Wood Stork in flight – I like the water drops in his wake.
Limpkin in flight
Pair of Mottled Ducks (?) – I really like the lead duck’s head reflected in the water.