Tag Archives: wildlife

Viera Wetlands – 10/3/2018

It’s been a while since I’ve been to Viera Wetlands.  I had time last Wednesday, so I packed my camera gear and set out at “o-dark-thirty” to give my shutter finger some exercise.

My first stop was Rotary Park, on the Indian River in Melbourne.  It’s small, but I like it because it’s open before dawn and the cochina rock formations near the shore by the pavilion can add interest in the foreground.  Nature cooperated and painted in a superb sky.

Good morningGood morning

Next, I headed over to Viera Wetlands.  There were quite a few things to see and photograph.

Green Heron still lifeGreen Heron still life

Sora and snail snackSora with a snail snack

GrackleGrackle in good light

Dragonfly in flightDragonfly in flight

The roads through the wetlands have been closed for a while because of all the rain we’ve had here in Central Florida.  They’re open now, but in rough shape – lots of potholes to dodge as you drive through.

Speaking of all the rain we’ve had, I checked on the Lake Jesop Wilderness Area sunflowers again yesterday, and they’re very, very sparse this year.  There are a few clumps of flowers on higher ground, but the grand fields of blooms are missing.  The water’s still high and large areas are  still flooded.   Maybe next year.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Apopka Postcard

Hello faithful readers!  This is my first post in a new category I’ve created on the blog that I’m calling “Postcards”.  I’m going to occasionally post photos here that are typical Central Florida scenes – like a postcard.

You’re welcome to download them at full resolution for your personal use.  I’m going to use the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license for these instead of “All rights reserved”.  Please visit this page to see details and restrictions that apply:  https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.

In the future, they should be easy to find using the “Places / Categories” pulldown menu over on the right side of the blog and selecting “Postcards”.  If you’re viewing the site on a phone, you might not see that menu – if so, just type “postcards” into the search box.

Anyway, the first photo in the new series is this one:

Bird on a bush – Great Blue Heron at Lake Apopka

To download, just click on the image to go to the source and then right-click to download it.  I hope you like it!

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. Creative Commons, Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license

 

Sunrise movement

The best colors at dawn are often before sunrise – sometimes well before.  But a couple of minutes after sunrise last Wednesday, I was getting ready to move on when I noticed how colorful the horizon had become. So I decided to make one more photo. I was lucky I had my 24 – 200mm equivalent lens on and I zoomed all the way in. As the image flashed in my viewfinder, I saw a large bird close to the sun. When I recognized how many there were – all flying north (right to left), I made several more exposures.

Morning birdsMorning Movement

By the way, this would have been a great time to switch to video, but I’m never able to think of that when I should.

Anyway, I ended up with 7 frames spread over 9 seconds. I brought them all into layers in  Photoshop, aligned them, used curves to manually adjust each one so the exposures are the same and then blended birds from each frame into one composite image. I guess that’s cheating – but I think it’s a better representation of what I saw than any single frame I made.

I like images that reveal more the longer / closer you look at them. and this one does.  Please click on it to see it larger.

Here are a few more photos from that morning.  All were made at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

OspreyOsprey

Itchy birdItchy bird

YellowlegsYellowlegs

Birds usually don’t sleep in.  I’ve often seen them take off right at sunrise and head out to start their day.  It’s fun to watch.  Next time I’m going to try to remember to make a video!

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

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

Bird shots

When I go on a photo expedition I come home with many more images than I process, and I post even less.  So every once in a while I go through the photos in my Lightroom catalog and look for ones that I passed over, to see if my current self thinks they’re good enough to show or include in a blog post.

Caught in a sunbeamCaught in a sunbeam, Gatorland, May 2017

Anyway, I was doing this last week and ended up with the group of images in this post.  They made me  realize once again how wonderful Central Florida is for bird watching and bird photography.

Handsome Anhinga

Handsome Anhinga, Gatorland, May 2016

We have an enormous variety of avian wildlife here (iBird says 366 species in the state of Florida, Wikipedia says 524!).

SpoonbillSpoonbill, Black Point Wildlife Drive, January 2018

At some locations the larger birds are tolerant of people – especially if you stay in your car and / or take care not to stress them.  And nesting season provides opportunities that aren’t common elsewhere.

Hungry HeronsHungry Herons, Viera Wetlands, March 2018

I’ve added info to the captions on when and where I made these images so you can get an idea of what you’ll see.  The best time of year is probably January through May, but you can find  opportunities year round –  if you’re lucky and do your research.

Belted KingfisherBelted Kingfisher, Viera Wetlands, March 2018

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

A Florida Photo Parable?

SandhIll Crane Family 1Sandhill Crane Family 1

A couple of weeks ago, I was on my morning walk with a friend when we spotted an adult Sandhill Crane and two colts. As we drew near, the adult started leading the colts around a corner and away from danger (us).  We kept walking and when they came back in sight,  there was only one young one with the parent.

SandhIll Crane Family 2Sandhill Crane Family 2

The adult obviously knew that one baby was missing.  It turned around and headed back toward us to find the second one – which had wandered in the opposite direction and was lost in the bushes on our right.

SandhIll Crane Family 3Sandhill Crane Family 3

The adult found the missing colt and led it back out to reunite the family.

Sand HIll Crane Family 4Sandhill Crane Family 4

And they went on their way. The adult looks like it’s going to give the wayward colt a stern talking to!

Watching something like this makes me think about how strong parenting instincts are in animals. We tried not to threaten these birds, but the adult crane was going to get the baby back even if it meant facing off against two large people.

Much like people should face off against a government that takes human children away from their families.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Urban Ospreys

Sometimes you can get amazing photos of wild birds inside Florida cities.  Winter Park (and other places too)  put up  nest boxes around town to attract birds.  Ospreys typically  use them in the spring to raise their young.

Urban Ospreys 3Urban Ospreys 3

I met Kathy B. (www.flickr.com/photos/kbargar/) through the Orlando Camera Club and we’ve run across each other on photo shoots.  I saw her photos of this nest on Flickr and when I commented on how nice they were she was kind enough to share the location with me.

Urban Ospreys 1Urban Ospreys 1 – The young one’s stretching it’s wings. Mom looks a little wary – like she’s making sure she doesn’t get knocked out of the nest!

If you’re close enough to zoom in and fill the frame, and you can pick a vantage point that has foliage in the background – you can get some swell, natural looking photos of wild birds.  There’s no way to tell from these first two that the nest is located downtown.  Here’s a wider shot: The nest is on top of a utility pole and 40 – 50 feet away from the upper floor of a very convenient parking garage.

Osprey nest box in downtown Winter Park

I wrote about this once before back in 2011 (https://edrosack.com/2011/06/12/ballpark-ospreys/) but I think it’s worth pointing out again.  Be on the lookout!

When I first arrived, the chick was asleep and hidden, so I went to the other side of the garage and made this photo while I waited for it to wake up.

The track through Winter ParkThe track through Winter Park

And this crow was checking me out while I waited too.  I think it was expecting a handout.

Close CrowClose Crow

Anyway, I’m glad this didn’t turn into another “empty nest syndrome” like our expedition a couple of weeks ago.  And by the way, Tom M. checked and the eagles were back in that nest the week after we went, so they must have just been away while we were there.

I really like my close up photos.  I think they’re the best ones I’ve gotten of nesting Ospreys.

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

©2018, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Walking the Wetlands

Orlando Wetlands Park is beautiful and a wonderful place to amble through nature.   Here are a few things I noticed there last week.

DawnDawn in a calm, peaceful, and pretty place

I used the Olympus Hi-Res mode for this next photo.  I’m glad since it let me crop in on the knees, tangled roots, and reflections at the base of this stand of Cypress.

Far shore CypressFar shore Cypress

I end up photographing thistle plants a lot.  In this case I liked the way the morning light was just highlighting it from the left.

Early light on a ThistleEarly light on a Thistle

Do you remember “planking”?  If not, see: http://knowyourmeme.com/memes/planking.  This turtle was illustrating the concept.

Turtle "planking"Turtle “planking”?

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.

FishLarge Fish

Dragonflies are out and about.  This is the first time I’ve noticed them this year.

Four-spotted Pennant(?)Four-spotted Pennant(?)

And finally, here’s a photo of my walking companion.  This bird joined me for a bit on my stroll around the park.

Strolling LimpkinStrolling Limpkin

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!

©2018, 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

Majestic Maui Migration

Editors note:  Today we have another post from our roving correspondent MaryKate. She’s back in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, but this time on Maui – enjoy!

I recently took the trip of a lifetime to Maui during whale watching season.  While I’ve been fortunate enough to whale watch in places like Alaska, Channel Islands National Park and Maine, I have never seen anything like the whales in Maui in February.  Each year around December/January through about March/April, North Pacific Humpback Whales migrate down from Alaska (bye, Monette!) to Hawaii to mate, give birth, and let their babies bulk up before the long journey back north.  These whales love the waters around Maui, and I’ve never been to a place where you can sit on the beach or at a restaurant on the coast and watch these amazing creatures from land.

Humpback Whale Tail

Tails from Maui

But you can get an even better view from the water!  I did two whale watching cruises, both with the Pacific Whale Foundation.  I’d highly recommend any cruise with PWF (and check out their amazing gift shop while you’re there!), because the money from your cruise goes to protect our oceans through research, education and conservation programs.  While all of their cruises are great experiences, if you have the time and the money and are an early bird like me, your best option is to go on a smaller boat as early in the day as possible.  We took the larger Ocean Discovery on a Saturday afternoon at 2 pm and there was plenty of whale watching, but it was nothing like the intimate photo safari experience on Sunday morning at 7 am aboard the Ocean Spirit catamaran.  With a  smaller, quieter boat, we could turn off the engine when we got 100 yards away from the whales, and sometimes they would come closer to us.  This humpback whale was curious and “spy hopped” right by our boat, poking its head up to check us out!

Humpback Whale Spy Hopping

Humpback Whale “Spy Hopping”

We were lucky to see many mom and baby pairs, which are easy to spot when you know what to look for: more frequent and smaller blows (the babies need to breathe a lot more often than the grownups), and a floating protective Mom beside them (Mom is always nearby!).

Humpback Whale Mom & Baby

Baby (left) and Mom (right) Humpback Whales

I really enjoyed the photo ops on this whale watch.  There was a photographer on board if you had any questions, and I was able to see and photograph whales in a way I never had before.  Fun fact – did you know Humpback Whales (and all baleen whales) have two blowholes side by side (kind of like a human nose) vs. toothed whales that only have one?

Humpback Whale Blow

Humpback Whale – Two Blows Up!

We also saw Maui by air via a Maverick Helicopter Tour.  It’s a lot tougher to get good photos from a helo, but it was really amazing to see whales from such a different perspective!  Below, a mom and baby (on the right) are “escorted” by a male (not the baby’s daddy!).

Humpback Whale Mom, Baby & Escort from Helicopter

Humpback Whales by Air: (From right to Left) Mom, Baby, and Male Escort

Click on any of the photos above to see a higher res version on Flickr, and click here to see the entire photo set from the trip.  Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  Now – go make some whaley good photos!

Editors note 2:  
Thanks again MK – it was wonderful to read about your trip and see your photos.  Hawaii is still on my bucket list!  Also readers, if you’re going to visit, you might want to take a look at the Hawaii category on my on-line friend Jeff Stamer’s blog.  He’s been there several times and has some amazing photos and tips. 

©2018, MK Rosack and Ed Rosack. All rights reserved