Tag Archives: wildlife

Orlando Wetlands Follow-up

I’ve visited and written about Orlando Wetlands several times this year. Now I’d like to follow-up and show you some of the things that haven’t been in the blog yet. Sorry for including so many more photos than usual – I need to catch up!

A group of Vultures resting in a tree or on the ground is called a ‘committee’. I’ve seen single Vultures pose with their wings spread before, but this was the first time I’ve seen so many, all doing the same thing, on top of identical palm trunks. It really caught my eye! It was almost like the ‘committee’ was taking a vote! If you search for “horaltic pose” you’ll find some info about this. They often do it in the early morning to warm up.

An unusual committee of vulturesAn unusual committee of vultures

Wildflowers and butterflies (and dragonflies too) have been plentiful.

Blue Iris BloomBlue Iris Bloom

White Peacock ButterflyWhite Peacock Butterfly

You may spot a snake catching some rays among the Lilly pads.

Water Snake

Water Snake

But the snakes have to be careful or a Great Blue Heron might spot them too.

Formidable HunterFormidable Hunter

I’m not sure what the plants around this frog are, but they add some nice color and texture to the photo. I’m also not sure how these frogs survive in a lake with such a large population of Alligators.

BullfrogPig Frog

Turtles are plentiful too.

Mossy back turtleMossy back turtle. Florida Cooter(?)

This Caracara was strolling along the path leading to the boardwalk. I followed at a distance until it turned and I could get an image of it in profile.

Out for a strollOut for a stroll

Red-winged Blackbirds are courting and staking out their territories.

Singing RedwingSinging Red-winged Blackbird

I heard this Pileated Woodpecker knocking from at least a quarter mile away. It kept on as I walked and the sound led me right to it.

Follow the knock (1)

Follow the knock

The header image is of the same bird flying toward a new place to knock. There’s a larger version here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/52883882765/in/dateposted-public/

I didn’t hear this next one knocking, but its red highlights stood out and made it easy to find on this palm tree.

Red-bellied WoodpeckerRed-bellied Woodpecker

Posing ducks are hard to resist.

On the railingBlack Bellied Whistling Ducks on the railing

And here’s one more Spoonbill photo. Fledglings were practicing their flying skills and learning how to get around and feed themselves. Landing on a railing is tricky!

Young Spoonbills, exploring the world (2)Young Spoonbills, exploring the world

Migrant birds were also passing through Orlando Wetlands this spring. I found a Painted Bunting, a Cape May Warbler, and a European Starling – although my photos of them aren’t very good. And there’s a story over at https://birdersjourney.com/2023/04/30/life-bird-what-a-delight/ about spotting a Blue Grosbeak! So it’s been a glorious place to wander around with a camera this year. I think I’ll keep checking on it every once in a while.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!

©2023, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Nature and Nurture

I met my friend Lutfi at Orlando Wetlands Park last Saturday morning. I was a bit worried at first since I didn’t see as many birds around as on my last visit in early March. The Whistling Ducks seemed to be hiding and there were fewer Spoonbills in the trees and flying around. I also couldn’t find the nest that’d been near the boardwalk.

Then I did start to see some things. There was a Sand Hill Crane Family foraging in some shallow water near the south Lake Searcy shore.

Sand Hill Crane colt and parent foragingSand Hill Crane colt and parent foraging

A Common Gallinule family foraging close by the boardwalk.

Common Gallinule chick and parent foragingCommon Gallinule chick and parent foraging

There was also a lot of noise coming from the Cypress stand to the east of the boardwalk – baby birds squawking and begging to be fed. I’m glad I had a long lens and teleconverter since they were quite far away.

Two Anhinga chicks in nestTwo Anhinga chicks in nest
Wood Stork chick and parent in nestWood Stork chick and parent in nest

This Spoonbill fledgling was by itself when I first saw it. Perhaps it’s from the nest that I couldn’t find? A parent soon arrived in the tree and fed it. It won’t be long before it’s taking care of itself.

Hungry youngsterHungry youngster

A lot of change out there in just over a month. Nature in action nurturing a new generation of birds. What a thriving rookery and what a fantastic Central Florida Photo Op!

I made all of the photos in this post last Saturday except for the header image, which is from my previous visit. You can see a larger version of it at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/52792040905/in/dateposted-public/

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!

©2023, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Photos with a new camera

I haven’t posted in a while, so it’s about time. And I have been making some photos lately. Here are a few that I like – all made since my last post.

Another quiet morning on the St. Johns riverAnother quiet morning on the St. Johns river.

(February 17; Boat ramp on HW 50 at the St. Johns River; three frame panorama; merged in Photoshop.)

Warm light on a wading WilletWarm light on a wading Willet.

(February 17, Gator Creek Road in Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, single frame, cropped.)

A wary RaccoonA wary Raccoon.

(February 23; Orlando Wetlands Park, single frame, cropped.)

Forest flowersForest flowers.

(February 24, Central Winds Park in Winter Springs; Focus Bracket in Camera, merged in Photoshop.)

Through the treesThrough the trees.

(March 4; Orlando Wetlands Park; single frame; cropped.)

Nesting WoodstorkNesting Woodstork.

(March 4, Orlando Wetlands Park, single frame, Adobe enhanced resolution, cropped.)

Ruffled FeathersRuffled Feathers.

(Eastern Meadowlark; March 7; Joe Overstreet Road; single Frame; cropped.)

A river runs through itA river runs through it.

(March 10; Leroy Wright recreational area along SR 520 at the St. Johns river , Cocoa Fl; Sony Pixel Shift Multi Shoot (16 frames), merged in Sony Imaging Edge; Converted to B&W in Lightroom.)

I made all of these (and more!) while trying out and setting up my new camera.

In late October of last year, Sony announced the latest version of their high resolution model line: the A7R V. There’s a lot of info available on the web about it. I read a great deal of that over 3+ months before finally deciding to upgrade my faithful A7R III (which was announced way back in October of 2017). I packed up quite a bit of my existing camera gear and traded it in for the new one. If you’re interested, you can read a lot of the same info I researched on-line, so I’m not going to repeat any of that here. I’ll just summarize some things and give you my first impressions to go along with the images above.

6 years is a long time in the camera design universe. These are changes that I really like:

  • The native sensor resolution is slightly higher – nice for landscapes and very helpful for wildlife photos. The pixel shift multi shot capability now seems to work very well (it didn’t on the A7R III and I never used it). For static subjects where you want huge resolution files, I think it’s a better implementation than even the Olympus EM 1 MII version that I used a lot when I had that camera.
  • Focus capabilities are immensely improved. The human eye auto focus on the A7R III convinced me to buy that years ago. The A7R V AI auto focus is much better and will be wonderful for many subjects, not just people.
  • Image Stabilization on the A7R III was not a standout feature. On the A7R V it is.
  • The A7R V has a huge image buffer. You can shoot continuously at the highest frame rate for up to 1000 frames (using CF Express cards). Even using SD UHS-II cards (slower than CF Express) it will still shoot over 100 frames before the buffer fills.
  • Many RAW Image formats are now supported. You can choose compressed / uncompressed as well as medium or low resolution RAW files if you don’t need the full resolution.
  • Video is much improved (although I should study this and use it more often!).
  • The Electronic Viewfinder and the back LCD are both improved with higher resolution and frame rates. The LCD also tilts and swivels – very useful.

Other things have changed, but they’re minor (for me). In summary I like everything Sony did with this camera and I hope to use it for a long time to come. If you have any questions, I’d be happy to try and answer them in the comments.

By the way, nesting activity at Orlando Wetlands is still in full swing. It’s a good opportunity to observe several species creating new life.

Click on any of these photos to see higher resolution versions on Flickr.

The header image: Great Egret Fly-by (higher res version here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/52719484820/in/dateposted-public/)

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!

©2023, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

MINWR – 30 Jan 2023

I hadn’t been to Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge in a while and decided to head over last Monday. On the way in I stopped by the pier on the west side of the A. Max Brewer Memorial Bridge. When photographing a sunrise (or anything else!) I try to stay aware of things in other directions. Looking north just before sunrise, this sail boat caught my eye. I like the subject, colors and reflections:

A pretty place to anchor

A pretty place to anchor

Winter is such a wonderful time to visit MINWR. The variety of “snow birds” you could spot is amazing. Here are a few I found.

I haven’t seen a Snipe in a long time – the sun’s glare hid it pretty well, but the long beak gave it away:

SnipeWilsons Snipe

These enormous waterbirds hang around all over Central Florida in the winter, but it’s still nice to see them. Every one I spotted was either far away or horribly back lit.

High Key PelicanHigh Key White Pelican

Northern Shovelers show up each winter:

Her and HimHer and Him

Northern Pintails show up too, although I don’t run across them as often:

Him and Her>Him and Her

And Willets and Lesser Yellowlegs are fairly common, although it’s unusual to see a choreographed pair and their reflections:

Passing byPassing by

Definitely worth a visit – I’m glad I went! Thanks for stopping by my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, visit a wildlife refuge!

©2023, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Orlando Wetlands Park – Jan. 20 2023

The city of Orlando is adding a boardwalk, equestrian trail, and visitor center at Orlando Wetlands Park (OWP). The new 2200 foot board walk across Lake Searcy opened recently, and the Visitor Center looks like it’s almost finished. I’ve wanted to get back out there and see the changes and when Mahesh suggested a trip, I readily agreed. I met him and Lutfi there last Friday. The boardwalk provides some lovely new perspectives and viewpoints of the wetlands. Here’s a nice one, looking east past a cypress dome.

DaybreakDaybreak from the newly opened boardwalk

The eBird website lists 258 species observed at OWP and we saw a few of them.

Green Herons are fun to photograph. I like the geometric patterns in their feathers.

Green HeronGreen Heron

Wood Storks are fun to spot too, especially in good light.

A couple of StorksA couple of Storks

That eBird bar chart shows that Spoonbills are observed there all year, and I see many photos online of juveniles from OWP. I haven’t seen any nests yet, but Jim Boland has spotted some – they seem to have established a thriving colony! We saw twenty to thirty of these charismatic, rose-colored birds on Friday morning and if you’d like to see them in the wild, this is a great place to go look.

Backlit Spoonbilll in flightBacklit Spoonbilll in flight

I first saw (and heard) Whistling Ducks at Orlando Wetlands and they’re a reliable find there.

Seven Whistlers and a Blue-wing(?)Seven Whistlers and a Blue-wing(?)

We saw plenty of Alligators although I didn’t make any photos of them. And mammals are around too. We saw tracks (Racoons?) and I’ve seen Otters, a Bobcat, and Deer in the past.

The header image is a Caspian Tern that was searching for fish – but didn’t find any while I watched. A larger version is here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/52641238677/in/dateposted-public/

OWP is a wonderful place – I really must go more often. The one complaint I have is that the gate opens “at sunrise”. I like photographing in pre-dawn light, so I wish it opened a bit earlier.

You can look through all my posts from OWP at this link: https://edrosack.com/category/photo-ops-in-florida/orlando-wetlands/. And you can review images I’ve made there in this album on Flickr: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157639616792296

Thanks so much for stopping by and reading my blog.  I hope all of you are doing well. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!

©2023, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Lake Apopka Wildlife Drive – Jan. 7 2023

My good friend Kevin M. was in town a week ago and wanted to visit LAWLD. We also invited Lutfi and the three of us met and drove up together.

It’s about the same distance for me as Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge and has a wide variety of birds to see (especially at this time of year). It’s one of my favorite places but I struggle to make landscape photos there. I think this is mostly because I like the light before sunrise and the gate doesn’t open until 7am. Anyway, I did make this one shortly after we arrived. It’s two RAW iPhone frames, stitched together and processed in Lightroom / Photoshop. I like the color contrast of the winter Cypress trees against the blue sky and water.

Winter CypressWinter Cypress

Small birds were plentiful near the entrance. Here are a couple I was able to make reasonable photos of:

On the rocksSwamp Sparrow on the rocks

Blue-gray GnatcatcherBlue-gray Gnatcatcher – more orange / blue contrast

And here are two more that we spotted near the Pump House:

Eastern PhoebeEastern Phoebe

Palm WarblerPalm Warbler

The marshy area across from the Pump House parking is a very good spot to watch birds nesting. Last year, we saw Anhingas, Cormorants, and Great Blue Herons nesting in April. It must be early for all but the herons – I spent several minutes Saturday enjoying this couple’s home renovations:

Great Blue Herons nesting - incoming branchGreat Blue Herons nesting – incoming branch

Raising offspring is hard for most every species. Seeing these birds cooperate to bring new life into the world is spellbinding and makes for a great photo op. I think my favorite photo of the trip is this gentle, back-lit handoff:

Great Blue Herons nesting - handoffGreat Blue Herons nesting – handoff

There’s almost always other action on LAWLD too. The Anhingas are adept anglers and with a little luck you can freeze action like this:

Anhinga Angler

LAWLD is the only place I’ve ever seen Fulvous Whistling-Ducks, so I was happy to spot them this time too.

Fulvous Whistling-Duck TrioFulvous Whistling-Duck Trio

We also saw: Black-bellied Whistling Ducks, a Painted Bunting, a Common Yellow-throat, Black-crowned Night Herons, Northern Harriers, a Red-shoulder Hawk, Tree Swallows, and many of our more common birds.

The header image title is “A very wild smile”. It’s a 3 frame panorama and looks impressively close. But I made it with my long lens from across a canal. You can see a larger version here: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/52612944732/in/dateposted-public/

Winter’s such a fabulous time to visit! If you’ve been thinking about it go! It’s open to cars between 7 a.m. and 3 p.m. on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and federal holidays. You can find much more info at this link: https://www.sjrwmd.com/lands/recreation/lake-apopka/. And you can view many more of my Lake Apopka photos at this link: https://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/albums/72157656060310175. Finally, this eBird page lists bird species that’ve been observed there.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  I hope all of you are doing well and that you have a wonderful 2023! Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make a few photos!

©2023, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Merritt Island NWR 12/8/2022

I spent a few moments before sunrise last Thursday morning at Scobie Park (just south of Veterans Memorial Park in Titusville), watching the pre-dawn clouds reflecting in the calm Indian River water. Oh, and I had a camera with me too – I made 6 frames to stitch together into this image:

The day beginsThe day begins

After that I wandered over to Black Point Wildlife Drive and one of the first things I saw was this:

Large numbers of birds were going after minnows concentrated in this small pond along Black Point Wildlife Drive.

These “feeding frenzies” don’t happen all the time, but when they do they can be great photo fun.

At first glance, they look like a photographer’s dream – all those birds in a confined area – taking off, landing, chasing minnows and each other, just waiting for you to snap the shutter.

It turns out it’s not so easy. They’re crowded together against a cluttered background. They move quickly, change directions unexpectedly, and in general make it hard to pick a subject and compose deliberately – especially if you’re looking through your viewfinder with a long lens on your camera. I often keep the camera away from my eyes so I can see what’s going on. Then I can sometimes anticipate the action and make a photo when they all decide to move at once:

Exodus Exodus

I also like to study the scene for a while and try different vantage points and lenses. I chose a spot where the wind was at my back and most of the birds were taking off and landing toward me. It helps to keep looking around so you can spot them as they’re coming in. I noticed this spoonbill a long way out. Since I knew where it was headed I could track it as it approached and make several frames when it landed. This side lit one is my favorite:

Landing SpoonbillLanding Spoonbill

There were lots of Roseate Spoonbills around. The header image at the top of the post on the web is another one I like from the trip. That pair was wading in a less busy part of the drive.

I also had some good luck with this female Belted Kingfisher. She ignored me and kept gazing out over the water as I crept closer. I stayed in the car, moved slowly and tried to be as quiet as possible so I wouldn’t bother her. Most of the time, they leave as soon as you point a camera at them, but she wasn’t concerned at all. This is one of the closest photos I’ve made of one (the EXIF data says I was about 19 meters away). She’s very pretty and quite regal, I think.

An Unusually Calm KingfisherAn Unusually Calm Kingfisher

It was a short visit, but a wonderful one. This is an excellent time of year to visit the refuge, get out in the midst of nature, and enjoy some of the things you can see there.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog.  I hope all of you are doing well and that you have a joyful holiday season with your family and friends. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make a few photos!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

Merritt Island NWR – 11/4/22

Jim Boland sent out his latest email newsletter last Thursday and it made me want to visit the refuge again. The last time I’d been was a while ago and before Hurricane Ian. I charged up my batteries and left early on Friday morning to explore.

There are still some road closures over there (see this link for the latest official status: https://www.fws.gov/refuge/merritt-island), but the good news is that Black Point Wildlife Drive and West Gator Creek Road – spots I usually visit – are open.

I arrived well before sunrise and stopped by the Titusville Municipal marina. The weather forecast had me expecting very few clouds and I had a longer lens mounted to try and frame some details on the boats. When I saw this low cloud drifting in, I didn’t think I’d have time to swap lenses, so I pulled out my phone. Current phone cameras are just amazing! (Click on this one to see a higher res version on Flickr.)

A cloud drifts by above the marina before dawnA cloud drifts by above the marina before dawn. iPhone wide camera, handheld, 24mm eq., f/1.8, 1/5 sec, ISO 8000. RAW capture, processed in Photoshop and Lightroom.

I saw the same things that Jim reported including Spoonbills, a Reddish Egret, Blue-winged Teal, and Black-crowned Night-herons. It wouldn’t surprise me to find out this Redish Egret is the exact same bird he saw. It was especially entertaining: busy showing off its fishing prowess and ignoring photographers interested in making photos.

Hunting EgretHunting Egret.

I enjoyed seeing all the Goldenrod in bloom. This one was in nice light:

Goldenrod in golden lightGoldenrod in golden light.

And I couldn’t resist making a photo of this people watching gator. The header image is a crop from the center of the photo.

Craggy face critterCraggy face critter.

Our other common birds were out and about. I spotted a few warblers too, although the only one I was able to ID was a Yellow-rumped Warbler. It was a great trip – thanks for motivating me Jim!

I hope all of you are doing well. Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Stay positive, be kind, take care of yourselves and each other. And if you can, make some photos!

©2022, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved

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