Tag Archives: nest

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


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

Lake Apopka, 26 June 2021

Kevin M. asked if I wanted to go on a photo excursion yesterday and of course I agreed. Since I hadn’t been to the Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive since before the pandemic, we ventured out there. It was a really good choice.

Two birds I don’t see very often were quite common: Black-necked Stilts and Least Bitterns. The Stilts were all along the drive. At first, they were way out in the water or flying in the distance. Eventually we found some much closer – and even had to wait for them to get out of the road!

Black-necked Stilt Black-necked Stilt

There were some cute young ones toddling around too.

Black-necked Stilt Babies Black-necked Stilt Babies

The Least Bitterns were taking cover in the reeds and occasionally flying from one hiding spot to another.

In the reeds A Least Bittern in the reeds

There were lots of other birds too. These nesting Anhingas were a treat. I don’t think I’ve seen them nesting since I visited the Everglades.

When is lunch, Mom? Nesting Anhingas: When is lunch, Mom?

Kevin pointed out this next bird for me – one I’d never photographed before.

Great Crested Flycatcher Great Crested Flycatcher

The LAWD Gate doesn’t open until 7am so we usually can’t get any blue hour or sunrise photos. But I always like to make a photo of the pump house. I hadn’t tried this perspective yet and I think it looks good in B&W with those clouds in the background.

Lake Apopka Pumphouse Exterior Lake Apopka Pumphouse

We also saw Turtles, Alligators, a Marsh Rabbit, lots of dragonflies, a Blue Grosbeak (way, way far away!), a Downy Woodpecker, a Black-crowned Night Heron, Bank Swallows, Common Gallinules, Purple Gallinules (and babies), Ospreys, Red-winged Blackbirds, Green Herons, Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, Tri-colored Herons, Little Blue Herons, and many lovely flowers too. And I’m sure there were other things I’ve forgotten to mention or overlooked.

Every time I visit LAWD, I’m reminded what a wonderful nature spot it is and how I need to go there more often. I’ll try! You can see more of my photos from there in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157656060310175

Header image: A Black-necked Stilt in flight

Way back in 2009, a group of friends at work were all interested in photography and getting out into nature here in Central Florida. We started a “club” we called the Photography Interest Group. We’d go out together, make photos, and share info on cameras, techniques, locations, etc. Over the years, people drifted away: lost interest, moved, etc. Kevin and I are the last two active members. He’s going to move away soon. We’ll keep in touch of course and may even be able to go out photographing together at times. But it seems like the Photography Interest Group has faded away. It was good while it lasted! I’ll miss you Kevin!

The Photography Interest Group on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/groups/1304505@N22/

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Cherish your family and friends. Take care of yourselves and each other. And if you still can, make some photos!

©2021, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Incredible skies?

in·cred·i·ble, adjective: Very difficult or impossible to believe; extraordinary

There’s been a lot of buzz on the web recently about sky replacement – a genre of compositing. You take the sky from one photo and substitute it into a second photo.  I first tried this way back in April of 2007.  I wanted to make the Great Egret family in this nest at the St. Augustine Alligator farm stand out against the sky. You can compare the before and after in this slider:

Before on the left, after on the right – Use the slider to compare

You can view a higher res version on Flickr here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/4101177267/in/album-72157622798164562/. It turned out pretty well, but it was a lot of work (at the time) and I haven’t tried it again – until recently.

The latest version of Skylum’s Luminar photo editor comes with a capability called “AI Sky Replacement. This “automagically” replaces the sky in your photos with a single click and will even adjust the rest of the lighting in the scene to better match the new sky. You can read more about it on their site: https://skylum.com/luminar.

Here’s another before / after slider showing my recent effort with their software. The original photo was made on Black Point Wildlife Drive in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. It was a very pretty morning, but the sky was a bit plain.

Before on the left, after on the right – Use the slider to compare

Here’s the whole completed image (click to see it in much higher resolution on Flickr).

Good Morning
Good Morning

I like how this one turned out too – the sun in the new sky is in the right place and the light direction, intensity, and color match the foreground nicely. It adds interest to the image. And it was easy – Luminar worked well in this case.

But it makes me a little uncomfortable. I guess because in this blog I want to tell you about what, where, and how to photograph. So I think you should expect to see things here that you can also see when you go to these places. This image is a composite, not a photo – you wouldn’t have seen this on that morning. I won’t say that I’ll never do compositing, but I do promise that I’ll disclose it if I do.

Now, am I going to criticize you if you replace skies in your photos? No, you can do whatever you want with your images. They’re your art. But in general, I do see folks on Flickr doing this a little too much. And if you do it you should disclose or tag it. And you should do it right – the results should look natural, not artificial. The light direction and color should match. The lens used in both photos should also match so scene elements are at the proper relative distance from each other. Go for the second definition of incredible (extraordinary), not the first (Very difficult or impossible to believe).

Thank you for stopping by and reading my blog.  And if you can – make some photos!

As for everything that’s going on in the USA and the world right now … I’ll try to keep politics and non-photo opinions out of this blog. But if you’re interested in what I think about things, feel free to take a look at my Twitter feed (link on the right). Peace out.

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Baby Bird Brief

Lynn and I dropped off some things today at MK’s place. On the way home we checked on the Lake Cherokee and Lake Davis swans and then went by Winter Park to see how the Ospreys are doing.

Lake Cherokee Mute Swan and cygnetsLake Cherokee Mute Swan and cygnets

The swans at Lake Cherokee seem to be fine. But last time I counted 6 cygnets and today I only saw 5. I hope one was hidden in the grass or behind the tree on the right.

Lake Davis Mute Swan and CygnetsLake Davis Mute Swan and Cygnets

The Lake Davis swans seem fine too and I counted 5 cygnets there, same as our last visit. If you’d like to see a few more photos of these birds, one of my Flickr friends (Kathy B.) posted a few in her Flickr photo stream.

We only saw one very small chick in the Winter Park Osprey nest two weeks ago. It turns out it was the only one poking its head up at the time – there were two more hidden in the nest. This visit we saw all three and they’re much larger already. All the hungry babies were loudly begging for food and Momma was busy feeding them pieces of very fresh fish.

Lunch timeMomma Osprey feeding her three chicks

As we were getting ready to leave, Lynn asked if I’d made a video. And of course I hadn’t remembered to, so I went back and recorded a little bit. Thanks Lynn! The chicks in this remind me of mini dinosaurs.

 

Mary D. posted a comment on the last Osprey post. She saw a worker up there and hoped he was placing a wildlife camera. I looked and couldn’t see any sign of one.

You can read other blog posts about Lake Cherokee and Lake Davis at this link: https://edrosack.com/?s=lake+cherokee. And here are some more about Ospreys and Winter Park: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/winter-park/

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. I hope all of you are staying healthy and safe out there in pandemic land. Take care of each other and if you can, make some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack and MK Rosack. All rights reserved

Winter Park Osprey Nest

Lynn and I had to mail a package yesterday and stopped by this nest box near the Winter Park Post Office to check on the Osprey family.

Urban Osprey NestUrban Osprey Nest

They look like they’re doing fine.  Click on this photo to see it larger on Flickr and you can spot one chick’s head just in front of Mom.

This was a good social distancing spot – no one else was there.  We might try to check on it again when the chicks get a little bigger.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Stay safe out there and take care of yourselves, your friends, and your families.  And if you can,  make some photos!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Nesting Eagles

I returned late last Thursday from a quick trip to Wisconsin (more about that another time).  So when Kevin M. asked me if I wanted to go down to Osceola County with him on Saturday morning I almost said no.  I was a little tired and the weather forecast wasn’t good.

Saturday morning weather forecast

But I enjoy photography (you do know that, don’t you?) and hadn’t seen Kevin for a bit or Joe Overstreet Road for even longer, so I decided to go.  When I got ready to leave, the sky was completely overcast.  But this is the “Sunshine State” – there’s always a chance the sun will break through for a little bit, isn’t there?

Kevin called while I was on the way and asked if we should cancel.  I voted to press on – we could always come home early if it was too bad.  It was still a little dark when we got there, but we could see some promising thin spots in the clouds.  We’d driven most of the way to the lake when a Bald Eagle swooped by at the same time the clouds were parting.

Eagle in flight with nesting material 3Eagle in flight with nesting material 3

It was gathering and carrying nesting material.  As it flew back to its mate, the sun lit it just perfectly.  I’m pretty sure this is the same pair of birds that our friend JT posted on Flickr last week.

Eagle pair and nestEagle pair and nest

My photo problems quickly changed from no sun to shooting into the sun when it landed next to its mate.  You can’t believe I’m complaining about that, can you?

Nesting birds are a wonderful way to practice birds in flight photo skills because you know where the bird is going and you can position yourself in the right spot and anticipate its flight path.  I wrote about this once before and I think these tips are still good: https://edrosack.com/2010/04/18/birds-on-the-wing-flight-photo-tips/.

Eagle in flight with nesting material 2Eagle in flight with nesting material 2

I have other photos from this trip that I’ll share in the future, but I wanted to show these now in case you were considering a trip down to Joe Overstreet Road.  Go.  Even if the forecast is iffy!

You can look through my Osceola County blog posts at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/osceola-county/.  I’ve collected images from there in this album: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157670869688025, and birds in flight images in this one: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157626306397920.  Also, I think these eagle photos are worth a closer look – please click on them to view them in higher resolution on Flickr.

Lynn and I had a busy (and wonderful!)  holiday season.  I hope that all of you enjoyed spending time with your friends and family as much as we did.  And I hope that you have a wonderful new year and new decade!

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos -even when the weather forecast is dreary!

©2020, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Love is in the air…

At least it is at Viera Wetlands – a wonderful place to witness bird courtship and nesting behaviors.

This Great Blue Heron was lazy.  He was raiding an abandoned nest close to his and scavenging sticks to bring back to his mate.  A situation like this can be a great setup for photographers.  Watch for a cycle or two and you’ll get a good idea of what’s going to happen next.  It’ll allow you to anticipate and get good action / flight shots.

Nesting Great blue HeronsNesting Great blue Herons

I was back at Viera Wetlands to check on the Sandhill Crane nest that I told you about a couple of weeks ago.  Unfortunately, that nest has disappeared.  The water in that spot is much higher and the birds abandoned it when it flooded.

Sandhill Cranes seem to be a very successful species, but I wonder about their nesting habits.  Building in low-lying, marshy areas seems risky.  How often do they lose eggs or chicks to flooding or predators like alligators, raccoons, etc?

We did spot two other Crane nests, although we almost drove right by the one below.  We heard a bird calling as it flew by and stopped to watch it land.  That was when we noticed its mate and nest.  A few moments later the mate rose, revealing two eggs it had been tending. It stepped away and after a quick inspection to make sure all was well, the other one carefully took its place.  I hope this nest and the second one we saw will survive.

Nesting Sandhill CranesNesting Sandhill Cranes

I didn’t think our sunrise stop along the St. Johns river was that good, but I enjoyed making this photo of fishermen leaving the boat ramp before dawn.

Let's get an early start...Let’s get an early start

The light was dim.  I made a second exposure at a higher ISO to keep the shutter speed fast and the boat sharp.  Then I merged the two frames in Photoshop.

You can click on the photos in this post to see larger versions.  And you can read my previous posts about Viera Wetlands at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/viera-wetlands/, and view many more photos from Viera Wetlands in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157623223995224

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Circle B Bar Reserve – March 10, 2018

When I began writing this post, I looked at the Circle B Bar Reserve category on my blog (https://edrosack.com/category/circle-b-bar-reserve/).  To my surprise, once again it’s been about 2 years since my last visit!  Every time I’m there I think I should go more often.  This time I mean it – it’s a wonderful place!

It’s also a popular place – there’s a lot to see and a lot of people looking.  Kevin M. and I went over last Saturday and here are some highlights from our visit.

Great Horned Owl parent and chickGreat Horned Owl parent and chick

There’s been a Great Horned Owl nest along the entrance road for several years.  It’s marked off with tape and signs and there’s usually a crowd observing so you can’t miss it. The image above is a composite. They didn’t both look toward me at the same time, so I combined two exposures in Photoshop.  The chick seems pretty large.  I’m guessing it must be several weeks old.  They grow fast – go over soon if you want to see it before it fledges.

Cooper's HawkCooper’s Hawk

This hawk startled several birds (and me) when it launched towards a coot on the surface of the canal by Marsh Rabbit Run.  It missed and then stayed in this tree for a bit before moving on. I almost didn’t make the photo, since at first glance, it looked like a Red-shoulder Hawk to me.  But luckily someone nearby said “That’s a nice Cooper’s”, which is a new life bird for me.  It’s young so the colors aren’t typical for an adult, but the eyes give it away.

I also tried one of the features in the new firmware for the Olympus E-M1 MII camera:  Pro Capture (hi) mode with the PL 100 – 400 lens.  I wanted to catch the bird as it launched off the branch.  It didn’t quite work because hi speed Pro Capture freezes focus after the first shot.  It took off at an angle toward the camera and the bird isn’t sharp in the frame.  Oh well, another thing to add to my ‘try again’ list.

Pig and PeoplePig and People

This wild pig was foraging along the Heron Hideout path. It’s pretty small, seemed very calm and used to all the curious people, and minded its own business.  But I’d still be cautious around it.

Gray CatbirdGray Catbird – infrared, monochrome

I forgot the spare battery for my main camera back in the car and of course it died on our hike just after the hawk photo.  But I also had my IR camera with me with plenty of battery left. So I switched my long lens over to it and kept shooting.  We spotted this Gray Catbird in the bushes, and I like the way the bird stands out from the vegetation in IR converted to B&W.

Cedar Waxwing @ Circle BCedar Waxwing @ Circle B (Photo by Kevin McKinney, used with permission)

We found a flock of Cedar Waxwings in the branches above the path – but my photos of them are in infrared too.  Unlike me, Kevin was prepared and he was kind enough to let me use one of his from the day for this post.

Since it’s a long drive, we got lazy and slept in – so no sunrise images.  I did make some infrared landscapes there and I’m planning to use them in a future post, so check back for that.  Maybe I’ll include the IR Waxwings too.

We usually walk down Alligator Alley but it’s closed.  The gators are apparently active in that area although we didn’t spot any.  We did spot Painted Buntings, Indigo Buntings, a Barred Owl, Blue Wing Teals, Double Crested Cormorants, Anhingas, American Coots and chicks, a Purple Gallinule, the usual Herons and Egrets, Roseate Spoonbills, Warblers, Bald Eagles, Ospreys, turtles, and more.  Like I said – a lot to see!

You can view more Circle B Bar Reserve photos in my album on Flickr  (https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157625343566505) and in Kevin’s  (https://www.flickr.com/photos/44542650@N08/albums/72157666796492018).

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

©2018, Ed Rosack and Kevin McKinney. All rights reserved