Wednesday, December 8, 2010

East Central Florida

After I returned from Bosque last Monday, I unpacked, cleaned my equipment and started repacking for a trip to East Central Florida. There I participated in a photo workshop presented by Wildscape Images, Robert Amoroso . We had an excellent group and an excellent instructor and visited multiple places in the area, including Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, Viera Wetlands, Cruickshank Sanctuary and Avian Rehabilitation Center.

The Cruickshank Sanctuary is the home for the Florida scrub jays, there are approximately 4 different families living there. The scrub jays are endangered secondary to habitat loss and the sanctuary has been modified to provide the scrubland necessary for their survival. Scrub Jays are interesting birds; they are fascinated by humans and would even try to land on your equipment and head. While they are out feeding one jay remains high on vegetation are a tree searching the skies for predators. If they see one, they issue a call and the rest of the family hides.

The Viera Wetlands are part of the Brevard County wastewater reclamation center. It is set up with multiple cells surrounded by a berm trail that you can drive on, except in very wet weather. It is home to many wading birds, cormorants, anhingas, raptors and many other birds. Our group was very lucky to find and photograph a sora rail.

Merritt Island national wildlife refuge is not only noted for its wildlife but is the home of Canaveral Space Center. At the east end of the refuge is Canaveral National Seashore. Most people when they visit Merritt Island travel the Black Point Wildlife Drive. However, there are many other interesting roads to travel and photograph. Besides the Black Point Wildlife Drive, we also went down the Biolab road which parallels the Mosquito Lagoon. During this trip we watched a feeding frenzy by white pelicans.

Every evening our instructor, Robert Amoroso of Wildscape Images, gave a presentation on various aspects of photography and workflow in Photoshop. What made this so excellent was that all of his presentations were given to us on a CD, so we could concentrate on the presentation and not have to take notes. Just for this reason I would recommend Robert's Wildscape images workshops.

The Monday morning, prior to me leaving on the jet plane, my friend, Ken Blye, with whom I roomed with during my St. Paul Pribilofs island trip, pick me up for a last morning of photography at Merritt Island. Besides the Blackwater road, we did a few other roads. I was able to obtain pictures of a Wilson's snipe and finally a decent picture of a Kingfisher. We also saw wild pigs and had a brief, fleeting glance at a Florida panther.

I would recommend this area for anybody interested in both birding and photography. A great place to stay is the Hampton Inn in Titusville. It is just off the highway, there are restaurants nearby, and have a very decent breakfast and attentive staff.

Belted Kingfisher

Florida Scrub JAy

Great horned owl

Harris Haw


Osprey with fish

Pileated Woodpecker

Reddish Egret fishing

Sora Rail

Wilson's Snipe