Feeding Frenzy

Nine videos taken the same morning, February 5, 2022

A multi-day hatch of small fry around the time of a new moon triggered this Black Skimmers (scientific name: Rynchops niger) feeding behavior surf off Cocoa Beach, Brevard County on Florida’s Atlantic Coast.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Here and There

Around Cocoa Beach

Sights and Sounds

Black Skimmers

Scan of Lori Wilson Park beach

Hunter

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Whale Sighting

Right Whales in February

No, the Manatee mailbox on Atlantic Avenue is NOT the whale sighted….more of that later. February 3rd 2022 dawned with scattered clouds to fracture sunbeams.

Walking south I made the 2+ mile point where, up from the beach on South Atlantic Avenue, is a memorable facade.

Also exotic schefflera, paths to the beach through Sea Grapes.

February is the time for Right Whale sightings on the Florida Atlantic Coast. On the beach, near the blue dot on the following map, were lines of people facing the ocean, some with binoculars and cameras with long lenses.

About 500 feet out, beyond where the wave roll begins, a person sat on a paddle board looking to my right. In the following IPhone videos an occasional black hump, roiling water, a flipper and the signature spout are visible. It is too far for identification, I call it a Right Whale from their reputation for visiting these shores in late January/February.

An hour later, I left the beach at South 4th Street to capture the following local color.

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Orsorno Volcano from the Chacao Channel

Booking our February/March 2016 passage on the Oceania Regatta from Lima, Peru to Buenos Aires, Argentina we started early, Spring 2017. We made two excellent choices: a stateroom with balcony on the port side. Waking each morning we were treated to views of the shoreline. On the morning of February 15, 2016 as we sailed the Chacao Channel toward Puerto Montt I was up 4:15 am before the sun rose to photograph our approach to the city.

I knew a classic 8,701 foot high stratovolcano topped with glaciers, named Orsorno, was out there and, amazingly, appeared on the horizon, seventy five miles distant to the northeast outlined by the gathering dawn. The sky was just brightening from total darkness at this time.

Click me for the first South American Post in this series

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

A Day in a Life

“An early-morning walk is a blessing for the whole day.” Henry David Thoreau

Images saved from this winter day of beachcombing and exploring around Cocoa Beach, Brevard County, Florida

Sunrise

The Day Taking Shape

Beach Wandering

Kite Boarding

Beauty in Motion I

Beauty in Motion 2

Beauty in Motion 3

Manatee Park Wildlife

Biplane

I saved this to share with the grandchildren

Copyright 2022 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Anatomy of Dawn

Subcategories of Twilight and more

Use your pinky finger to apprehend the sky dome. Imagine yourself at sea, out of sight of land, on a calm day. Keeping your arm extended, place your pinky-tip on the horizon due east, raise your arm directly overhead. The average sized pinky-tip will have spanned 90 of its lengths. The distance measured from the horizon to directly overhead, the zenith, is 90 degrees of sky dome, about one pinky-width per degree, one-fourth of the entire 360 degrees of sky around your spot on the globe.

The apparent width of the sun disk from earth covers 1/2 degree of sky dome. The disk center point moves 15 degrees per hour (360/24 = 15). Using these facts to estimate time to sunset is relatively straightforward. Estimating time to dawn from the sky is more difficult. This graphic, “Twilight-dawn subcategories,” is a way to grasping what happens. Your position on the earth globe affects the experience. For example, at northern latitudes above 60°34′ summer nights never become darker than civil twilight because the sun’s midpoint never drops lower than 6 degrees below the horizon. Civil twilight lasts all night long summer times in parts of Sweden and Finland.

The date-time stamp on the first photograph of this series is 6:46:23 am, Cocoa Beach sunrise for February 1st was 7:09:40, 00:23:17, 23.283 minutes in decimal notation, later. This duration divided by 60 minutes in an hour and multiplied by the sun’s apparent velocity across the sky (15 degrees per hour) and minus the .25 degree between sun’s center and disk edge, gives the sun’s center as 5.57 degrees below the horizon: this is a photograph of the sky a minute or so after the sun passed civil dawn into civil twilight. I am not more exact because this calculation does not account the deviation of the sun path from due east at this latitude, lengthening civil twilight duration by almost a minute.

The following photograph is time-stamped 7:05:06, 4.567 minutes until sunrise, sun center is just below the horizon, setting the dark clouds of the previous photograph fleetingly on fire.

Sunrise has passed in the following photographs, obscured by clouds and making for a great light show. Enjoy!!

References

“Dawn” Wikipedia page, the graphic “Twilight-dawn subcategories,” and the descriptions of subcategories came from this page.

Sunrise Sand Castle

Sights along Cocoa Beach

Even on vacation I rise early to better enjoy the day. This year’s escape from the Ithaca winter, at Cocoa Beach, up at 5 am with a beach chair and oranges in hand I walked in darkness from our beach side resort to the tide high point. My time occupied by sky watching I peeled, and ate, oranges while locating stars through the wind blown clouds. When the barely perceptible dawn light began I packed it up to find Pam, who asked to be awake for sunrise.

This day, we ate breakfast from ready to eat food purchased from the Publix market close by on Atlantic Avenue, and caught up with the news craziness. We had a day at the Kennedy Space Center planned after the sunrise walk.

Here is our view while walking north along the tide line. In the far far distance are the Kennedy Space Center Vehicle Assembly building and a space launch gantry.  Follow the shoreline to find the pier.

We walked nowhere near the pier, barely visible, not to mention Sam Shepard park. The pier and park are a day’s walk. We had a few hours free before our “Lunch with an Astronaut” event at Kennedy Space Center.

Cocoa Beach North View– CLICK ME!!!!

The highlight of this sunrise walk was this large sandcastle on the beach in front of a condominium,  the  Hilton is to the left.  Lori Wilson Park is out of sight to the left.  A great feature of the park, for us since the International Palms were we stayed is next to it to the north, was the park life guards.

Cocoa Beach North View– CLICK ME!!!!

So, we approached this sandcastle from the north.  It survived the high tide to a new day, obviously it required time and resources to build.  The day before was a big beach day.  Wednesday was a brilliant, summer-like day for the first of March.

Cocoa Beach North View– CLICK ME!!!!

A little closer, the footsteps inside the first moat are interesting.

Cocoa Beach North View– CLICK ME!!!!

Pam next to the castle provides scale

Pam and the Sand Castle– CLICK ME!!!!

Here is the central pyramid.  I enjoy the dawn light on the grasses.  That is a sea gull feather on the apex.

Central Pyramid– CLICK ME!!!!

Decorative sea shell band facing the ocean.

Decorative band of sea shells– CLICK ME!!!!

The destiny of all our human conceits.  Impermanence is part of the beauty of sand castles.

Decorative band of sea shells– CLICK ME!!!!

Click for the first post in this series.

Rosy Fingers of Dawn

Iliad and Odyssey reference for Monday

A portent of new beginnings in an ongoing journey for the last day of February, 2022

Lady Feeding Gulls, Cocoa Beach Dawn

unflappable lady hand feeds seagulls

When Pam read my post “Black Skimmers Feeding” she asked, “Where is the photo of resting Skimmers?”

To answer her question, I looked through Cocoa Beach photographs and discovered I did NOT capture the Skimmers resting.  Instead, here are a related species, the Royal Tern (scientific name: Thalasseus maximus), whose behavior is similar in that it exclusively feeds from the water. There was a wind that morning and these individuals face into it.  These birds are, from a human point of view, well behaved, unlike the opportunistic gull.

Royal Terns at rest – CLICK ME for more Florida photography.

I searched around the web for identification of this gull without success.

Scavenging Gull – CLICK ME for more Florida photography.

It dines on a dead fish washed up by the surf.  In my previous posting I used the word “grifting” to describe gull behavior, again this is from the human point of view.  Gulls are notorious for stealing food from unwary beach goers, brazening walking over to unguarded chips (any kind), for instance, grabbing them and flying off.  If the chip stash is large, this sets off a nasty feeding frenzy when tens of gulls swoop in and grab.

Here is a series of photographs, demonstrating this behavior.

Click this link or any image in this article for my Fine Art Gallery from Florida.

The dawn flowed over Cocoa Beach as a lady attracted a crowd of hungry gulls, reminiscent of scenes from Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

Lady and Gulls – CLICK ME for more Florida photography.

She is obviously an experienced gull feeder, unflappable with a steady hand.

Lady and Gulls – CLICK ME for more Florida photography.

She had come to the shore at dawn for a photo shoot.  Her male companion (husband?) was there with a camera.

Lady and Gulls – CLICK ME for more Florida photography.

Pam and I were there for the dawn, me with the Sony camera.
Lady and Gulls – CLICK ME for more Florida photography.

At first, I stood there amazed at the spectacle.  She was in such control of the situation, not a victim, more like a lion tamer.

Then, Pam said, “You have to get this.”  And I did.