I was having a quiet breakfast by the pool. The sun was making it’s way higher in the sky. As the sun moved higher, it started to create some interesting light and shadows in the pool. As I said before, “I can’t let interesting light and shadows go unphotographed.” So I went into the house, grabbed my camera, and took a few photos. The water was totally calm and flat, so I did make a few ripples in the water. I thought the image looked better with the ripples, than without the ripples. I like the way they make the light dance on the bottom of the pool. Boggie was looking at me funny, wondering what the heck I was doing.
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2014 Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival. A field trip to St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park.
The 17th Annual Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Festival (SCBWF) in Titusville Florida, has grown to be the largest birding festival in the country. The festival is attended by people from all over the country as well as from several other countries. Once again this year, I was asked to photograph events at the festival. I always have fun photographing people taking part in festival activities. The SCBWF has something for everybody. Whether you are a beginning birder, someone who just loves getting outdoors, or a seasoned birder, you will find several festival activities to enjoy.
Looking to add that elusive bird to your life list? Sign up for one of the many field trips offered at the festival. The Red-cockaded Woodpecker and the Florida Scrub-Jay are two birds that many birders would like to add to their life list. A great place to see both of those birds is at the St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park. If you want to take advantage of this field trip, you will need to wake up early! The bus boards at 4:30 am!
The first stop was the park visitor center to meet our guides and resident experts, Samantha McGee from the St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park (SSRPSP) and David Simpson of Birding with David Simpson. Samantha gave us an overview of the park and some information about the birds we would be seeing. The great thing about the SCBWF field trips is not only the very knowledgeable guides that take you right to the birds, but the festival makes special arrangements with the locations to give you VIP access. The SSRPSP doesn’t normally open until 8:00 am. We were there much earlier! Also, we were transported in State Park vehicles to locations in the park that you would otherwise need to see on foot. That saved us a several mile hike.
This field trip leaves so early in the morning, because the Red-cockaded Woodpeckers leave their nest cavities so early in the morning. Samantha is pointing out several tree cavities as we wait for the birds to emerge. It’s worth the wait, as the woodpeckers emerge, they perch on an adjacent tree and showoff for us.
Watching the woodpeckers chasing each other from tree to tree as the sun rises above the horizon. They put on quite a show for us.
Taking time out to photograph a nice Florida landscape.
David Simpson, in the plaid shirt,of Birding with David Simpson helping out with bird identification.
The Red-cockaded Woodpeckers (RCW) are a highly managed bird. Park biologists keep an eye on all of the RCW’s in the park. Here, Samantha McGee is explaining how they manage the RCW population. The RCW use live, long leaf pines to build their nest cavities. Most other woodpeckers will use any dead tree to make a nest cavity. This makes the RCW a very habitat specific bird. This is why preserving habitats like the SSRPSP is so important! Park biologists have been helping by making nest cavities for the RCWs. It can take over a year for a pair to create their own nest cavity, so they are very happy to move into the man made nest cavities. All of the long leaf pines with nest cavities are marked with a white band around the tree trunk. There are several young birds in the park that have nest cavities ready and waiting. They just need to find their mate, move in, and start their own families. Thanks to Samantha and her colleges, the RCWs here are doing well for now. It is a very fragile situation and could go one way or another at any time.
Peeking through the scrub oaks watching a family of Florida Scrub-Jays. The Red-cockaded Woodpeckers are not the only habitat specific bird that the SSRPSP manages. The Florida Scrub-Jay is another bird that needs a very specific habitat to survive. They will only survive in a scrub oak habitat. The scrub oaks need to be of a certain height and density. If the scrub is too short the birds will not move into the area. If the scrub grows too tall the birds will move out. The health of the scrub habitat is managed by fire. The scrub habitat is burned periodically to maintain the height and density. Scrub-Jays are interesting birds. They work together as a family group to protect each other from predators. The one predator they can’t protect each other from is the loss of their habitat.
Sometimes when you are out in the field birding, you never know what rare or unusual bird you’re going to encounter.
There is no better way to cap off a great day in the field than lunch at the Marsh Landing Restaurant. It was nice listening to everyone’s birding stories. The food was great too! Once you finally make a decision between all of the great things on the menu.
I have been seeing several posts lately using iPhone photography. So I thought I would post a few iPhone photos of my own. Unfortunately, my father-in-law has been having a few health issues recently, so we had to spend some time at our local hospital. He is still having a few issues, but hopefully he is on a path to a swift recovery. Our local hospital is the Parrish Medical Center. If you find yourself needing to spend some time in the hospital, Parrish is not a bad place to be. For one, the people there are great. They are all very friendly and helpful. The other thing is the architecture is very well done. They managed to create a space that you actually want to spend time in. In fact, that was the plan. The idea was to heal the spirit as well as the body. Built in 2002, it was one of the first hospitals in the country to incorporate healing into the design. It works really well too. Every time I need to go there for a blood test or to visit a friend or family I don’t really feel like I’m in a hospital. They created a large atrium with skylights bringing in lots of natural light. Along with the calming sound of the water feature and tropical plants it gives you the feeling of being outdoors. I have always wanted to do some photography there. Normally places like this frown on photography, so I have never tried. Though I was just reading that it’s a popular place for wedding photos, who knew! So anyway, needing to stretch my legs from time to time I would take short walks. I could not help noticing the beautiful light from the skylights falling on the interior spaces. I can’t pass up great light, so I whipped out my trusty iPhone and started taking some photos. This was the perfect place to take advantage of my HDR app. It’s a pretty cool app, I use it a lot. It automatically takes two different exposures and combines them into one. It does a good job of bringing up the shadow areas and an OK job of dealing with the highlights. My iPhone capturing the light of Parrish:
Spring has sprung with an explosion of color, like fireworks on the 4th of July!
I can’t pass interesting light and shadows without photographing them. I was on my back porch this morning and I saw how the light was falling on my fern and one of the chairs. So I grabbed my camera and took a few photos.They sit next to each other so they were getting the same morning light. The light was the same but it affected the two objects differently.
I love the way light affects things, and how we see them. That’s probably why I am drawn to photography. I find it interesting that an object can be so unremarkable, until just the right amount and type of light, coming from just the right angle, will make the unremarkable so remarkable. Our friend Cassy brought us this beautiful flower from one of her trees. We put it in a small wine glass and set it on the counter that night. It was a beautiful flower in any light, but the next morning the light coming through the window just made it come alive! Also the shadows and reflections caught my eye and I had to capture that moment in time. So I grabbed my camera and photographed Cassy’s beautiful flower.
Capturing that special moment in time is so important. Hours later the beautiful light was gone and Cassy’s beautiful flower had wilted. But Cassy’s beautiful flower will live forever in our memories and in this little magic box.