Tag Archives: Savannah Sparrow

Orlando Wetlands 10-25-19

There’s a lot going on at this city run park out in Christmas, Florida.  I needed steps last Friday, so I got up early and took a walk. Hours are “Sunrise to Sunset”, but generally the gate is open about a half hour before sunrise.  Plenty of time to catch some good light.

Marsh, moon, and sun raysMarsh, moon, and sun rays

The quantity and variety of wildlife is remarkable.  I’ve seen occasional deer, bobcat, raccoons, and otters in the past – and alligators and our common wading birds are plentiful.  Winter migrants are also arriving.

Eastern PhoebeEastern Phoebe (winter visitor)

Savannah SparrowSavannah Sparrow (winter visitor)

Other migrants I came across included Belted Kingfishers, Black-necked Stilts, and Palm Warblers.

Spoonbills have been numerous there in recent years, but I only saw one this time.  Maybe more will show as we get closer to springtime.

Spoonbill Spoonbill

There were other unusual things too:

Pie Billed Grebe and crayfishPie Billed Grebe and crayfish

I noticed this Grebe surface with what I thought was a fish. But when I got a better look I could tell it was a large crayfish.  It had a precarious hold at first.  As I watched for about a minute, it adjusted its grip and eventually swallowed the whole thing. The crayfish looked bigger than the bird’s head!

Other birds I spotted:  Black Bellied Whistling ducks, Mottled Ducks, Coots, Common Gallinules, Red-shouldered Hawks, Sand Hill Cranes, Limpkins, Wood Storks, juvenile and adult Little Blue Herons, Great Blue Herons, Snowy and Great Egrets, Common Yellowthroats, Red-winged Blackbirds, Glossy and White Ibis, Anhingas, Black Vultures, and I’m sure others I missed.

There are on-going or planned projects that’ll make this park even better.  They’re currently “demucking” cell 13 (far corner from the entrance).  And they’ve prepared a site for a new visitor center at the first corner as you hike north from the entrance.  I’m also looking forward to new vantage points a future boardwalk over lake Searcy should provide.

If you take a look at all the posts I’ve written about it, you’ll probably be able to tell that Orlando Wetlands is one of my favorite places . If you haven’t been, go.  It’s a Central Florida Photo Ops “must do”!  You can see more of my photos from there in this album on Flickr.   And this Flickr group will show you other folks photos.

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

©2019, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Black Point Wildlife Drive is open again!

Yay! Jim Boland’s newsletter let us know that they’ve reopened Black Point so when Tom M. asked if I wanted to go out photographing I suggested we head to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. We met early Friday morning and drove over on State Road 50.

St. Johns River at dawnSt. Johns River at dawn

Our first stop was at the boat ramp on the St. Johns River. It’s a pretty place at dawn and the view was different this time since the water is several feet higher than I’ve ever seen it. Lots of rain here recently.

Once at the refuge, we headed straight to Black Point. The water there is a little higher than I’ve ever seen it too. The road surface was in great shape – I didn’t see any damage remaining from the hurricane.

Spiders and webs were very common. This one had set up in some great early morning light.

Banana SpiderBanana Spider – A little early for Halloween!

Some of our winter migrants are starting to show up and our regular birds were around, but not in great numbers. Belted Kingfishers teased us, and there were a few Savannah Sparrows foraging near the road.

Savannah SparrowSavannah Sparrow

We didn’t see too many ducks. I’m not sure if they just haven’t come down yet, or if they’re somewhere else.

We thought we spotted another Kingfisher over the canal on the right by the paved section near the exit. It was about the right size and seemed to fly like a Kingfisher. But then it landed in a tree and started acting like a Woodpecker – perched on the side of the main trunk and hopping around. I was pretty far away but took several photos anyway. When I got home and looked closely I didn’t recognize the bird. Kevin M. helped me ID it as a Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (another new life bird for me!). Unfortunately, the photos aren’t very good so I haven’t posted them. Maybe next time I can catch it closer in better light. It seems like I’m always saying that!

One more thing: We met a woman at the rest area on the drive who’d just seen a Bobcat. She was patiently waiting to see if she could get a better photo. We left before we found out if she was successful. I’ve seen a Bobcat out there before, but it was further along, not near the Rest Area. If you go, keep your eyes open!

I have many more Black Point photos in this folder on Flickr. I’m glad it didn’t suffer too much damage from Hurricane Irma and it’s open again.

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

©2017, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge – December 19, 2013

I spent last Thursday morning at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.  It’d been a while since I tried for a sunrise photo, so I went over early.  There wasn’t a lot of color in the sky, but the scene was still pretty.

A calm morning on Gator CreekA calm morning on Gator Creek

After sunrise, I stopped by this decaying dock – there won’t be anything left of it soon.  The strong side light from the early morning sun helped capture detail and texture in this black and white, infrared photo.

Weathered woodWeathered Wood

When I left this spot, I drove back around East Gator Creek Road.  There was a huge flock of ducks in a V-wedge heading for the full moon that was setting in the west.  I couldn’t get my camera ready in time to capture the sight, so I just watched.  It would have made a wonderful photo.

There were many birds on East Gator Creek and on Black Point Wildlife Drive although the numbers weren’t as great as some other times I’ve been there.   Most of the regular birds were around including various Herons and Egrets, Belted Kingfishers, Wood Storks, Ospreys, Cormorants, Anhingas, Gulls, Terns, Brown Pelicans, White Ibis, Vultures, a Bald Eagle, Sandpipers, Roseate Spoonbills, Grebes, and a few others.  I also saw some winter migrants including White Pelicans, Northern Pintails, Savannah Sparrows, and what I think was a Northern Flickr.  For some reason, most of the birds were in the distance – too far away for good photos.  This sparrow though was very close.

Savanah SparrowSavannah Sparrow

I also came across several wild boars, including this one.

Making a pig of itselfMaking a pig of itself — A wild boar stops foraging for a moment to give me the evil eye this morning on Black Point Wildlife Drive.

I’m even more distrustful of these animals than alligators.  Wild boars can be aggressive and threatening.  I was returning to my car once and found a mother with several piglets scouring the ground for food near my path.  I went out of my way to go around them and tried to keep as much distance between us as I could.  Even so, the mother watched me closely and grunted at me as I got to my car.  The one in the photo above was on the other side of a ditch full of water and I was close enough to my car this time to jump in if it came toward me.  But I still didn’t like the way it watched me.

Another interesting day with lots to see.  You can click on the photos above to view a larger version and you can look at this set on Flickr to see these and many other photos from Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

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

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved