Endless Searching

discerning a fascinating species

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Gulls, an omnipresent element of any beach stroll. Pestiferous, abounding and incessant the gull is simple to deal with. Keep any and all foodstuffs under wraps.

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For those who adore a crowd of gulls

Conversely, for those who adore a crowd of raucous opportunists simply pull out the food and offer it to the air. There is more about this photograph at this post, “Lady Feeding Gulls, Cocoa Beach Dawn.”

Click any photograph for a larger view.

Beach Walking

Pam and I developed a habit of hanging out in Florida during Finger Lakes Winters when the gorges are closed for safety and even walking the streets is perilous, stray black ice encounters abound. We trade icy falls for beach walks.

It is natural to become inured to the flight of gulls along the shore. For all my carting along the Sony Alpha 700 with a variable lens ( 18 – 200 mm) there is not a single photograph of a gull in flight. Yet, I have my eye on them until my blindness was lifted by a peculiar individual. It seemed to be a white gull, yet it had a watchful eye.

Gliding shoreline parallel with head down, how could I have mistaken it for a gull?

Osprey occupy an environmental niche along 700,000+ shoreline miles worldwide as a single species Pandion haliaetus. A unique bird with its own family, Pandionidae, and genus, Pandion, some experts recognize sub-species in geographic regions. Ours is the Western Osprey.

The following photograph is of a wing shape very different from the gull.

Osprey Stalking Behavior

IPhone 8 always in my pocket, I captured this clip of an Osprey stalking fish in the Atlantic Ocean surf. You will have a better viewing experience by clicking on the title of the embedded YouTube, then click on the Full Screen icon at the lower right.

Copyright 2019, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Kite Surfing Action Series

three shots in one second

For a change of scene we visited Cape Canaveral, the beach at Cherie Down Park were an informal gathering of Kite Surfers was underway. Here is a series of action shots, one second elapsed from first to last.

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Click any photograph for my Online Galleries

Conditions were excellent: good northerly wind, the sun overcast and, it being afternoon, in the west. Surfers stayed relatively close to shore, near their starting point. I had packed the “heavy gun” camera with a tripod.

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Panning the scene (swiveling on the tripod), the camera in rapid exposure mode, I pressed the shutter release and held it down.

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The surfer was captured mid-jump to landing.

Click this link for another view of Kite Surfing

Click this link for a view of Kite Skating on the beach


Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

“Surfing” Grey Herons

a dedicated predator

Our long beachcombing adventures are enlivened by wildlife. Grey Herons stalking the surf line, the interface between the Atlantic Ocean and the shore, stop us in place, fascinated.

I pack an iPhone sometimes for beachcombing as a lightweight alternative to SLRs. This post features iPhone photographs.

There are two varieties of “surfing” Grey Herons: those looking for a handout from fishermen and independent operators. These photographs are of the latter, active feeders searching the wash for edibles: fish and crustaceans. These progress verrrrryyyyyy slooooowwwwllllyyyy, at a level high enough to avoid breaking waves, low enough for their long legs to be submerged.

A perfect place to stalk the surf

The heron appears to be mesmerized by the waves until, suddenly, the head tilts slightly, the serpentine neck extends quick as a striking rattlesnake, the sharp beak pierces the water to emerge sometimes empty.

Success!!

When successful, the beak holds an improbably large fish. The heron stands there, adjusting the catch with imperceptible head motions, until the victim is aligned lengthwise with the beak and gullet. A quick jerk forward and the catch is propelled into the upper throat, which expands. A few more jerks and it is consumed whole, unchewed. An amazing process to witness and only possible if you take the time for the slow process.

Another element is the heron’s tolerance of human observers. These herons ignore us if we keep an adequate distance. Elsewhere, a heron will take wings at the slightest provocation, as simple as a glance of a human and these will fly, uttering a raucous, rasping goodbye.

These photographs are from morning excursions, the subject is backlit. Afternoons, we do not encounter many stalking herons when the light is better. The individuals looking for handouts are out in the afternoon, generally, after the fishermen has thinned out. Don’t know why that is.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Success: IStock Accepted Beach Textures

This photograph of an expired (freshly dead) Speckled Swimming Crab washed up by the surf onto Cocoa Beach one January morning is now available on Getty IStock for your creative usages.

Click the photograph, below, to visit the listing.Speckled Swimming Cram, dead – CLICK ME for the IStock Listing.

It is one of the thirteen (13) images accepted in set with the theme “Beach Textures.” During our winter visits to Florida our routine is to rise in the pre-dawn darkness, enjoy the emerging sun, different every day. Then, I take off for a beach walk in the dawn, early morning light.

The view of the first photograph is frontal including eye stalks and antennae above the mouth. The main body, called cephalothorax, is speckled. The mouth is the large opening in the center of the leading edge of cephalothorax. To the right and left are the arms with pincers. Scientific Name: Arenaeus cribarius.

This view from the rear is also available. Click the photograph to view listing.Speckled Swimming Cram, dead – CLICK ME for the IStock Listing.

It is a rear view of the walking legs extended from the cephalothorax.

This gull feather, below, was the inspiration for the series. You might remember my posting of the feather as “Beach Dreams” back in January, shortly after I captured the image.

Click the photograph for the Gull Feather IStock Listing.
Gull Feather – CLICK ME for the IStock Listing.

The sand castle, at the top of this post, is also in the series.

Here is the link to browse the entire series on IStock. License my photographs for an affordable fee to use on your blog, website or other creative venues.

Thank You for visiting.

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Man of War Beach Walk

Beauties and Dangers Encountered During a Walk on the Beach

Yesterday, I submitted to Getty a set of beach photographs featuring abstract nature patterns and do not yet have the approval. The same images were published on my Fine Art Gallery. Click this link or any photograph to visit my Textures Abstracts Patterns fine art gallery.

Setting off from the International Palms Resort Pam and I turned left, walking toward the pier, about 2.5 miles away. On the left is Lori Wilson (public) Park. One benefit of this location is the life guard station and “protected” swimming. We have reservations about ocean swimming. What is swimming with you?

Headed north on Cocoa Beach – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

That hotel with the dark windows, on the north side of Lori Wilson Park is the Hilton. This sand castle, washed out by high tide, caught in the dawn light, was in front of the Hilton. It brings to mind the interaction of nature and people.

Washed Out Sand Castle – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

There were strong on-shore winds that day. Dune grass driven by the wind made this pattern.

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Wind Driven Pattern – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The wind and tide washed ashore all sorts of man-mad junk.

These small pieces of plastic washes off distant islands by hurricanes, the plastic ground up into bits.

The branded drink holder, the “corn huskers” of the University of Nebraska Lincoln, does not speak well for the alumni as these are sold locally. Community-minded people walk the beach with bags, picking up the bigger stuff.

When the wind changed the small plastic washed out with the next high tide and the beach was cleared.

Debris from Hurricane and Tourists – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

Corpse of a gull with ground up plastic bits.

Gull Corps – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The gull beak has the same cruel beauty in death as it does in life.

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Gull Corps – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The wind drove ashore living creatures, left them on the beach to dry out or as food for crabs and gulls. After a Man Of War washes up on a beach it is still dangerous. Long tentacles extend from the body and can deliver painful stings.

Beached Man Of War – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The person walking around these tentacles is wisely wearing shoes, as I can tell from the footprint shape.

Each such tentacle is threaded with stinging, venom-filled structures coiled, like a spring, ready to pump venom into the victim for the purpose of feeding, catching larval and small fishes and squids.

These structures, called nematocysts fire on contact and do not differentiate targets be it a human foot or a squid.

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Man of War with extended tentacles – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

The crest of the Portuguese Man of War is very visible in the water, the sac can be inflated/deflated to catch the wind or even sink the organism to escape surface feeders. The fanciful resemblance of the floating crest to a sailing ship is the origin of the organism’s popular name. The scientific name is Physalia physalis. While it appears to be a single creature, it is actually several working together for common benefit.

Named After Sailing Ships – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

We talked with life guards about first aid procedure, for the stings, and were not comforted by their ignorance. We had done the research ourselves. Be informed before you step onto the beach. Do not expect well informed assistance in the case of a sting, pre-arm yourself with knowledge.

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Life guards were not knowledgeable – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

This is an especially dangerous configuration of a beached Man O’ War (also known at Floating Terror): a blue balloon with strings trailing from it. Young children will see the balloon and want to grab or play with it. If we see tourist families with young children, when these are around, we will go out of our way to warn them.

Dangerous fun balloon configuration – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

These disconcerting findings on the beach do not diminish our enjoyment of the environment, instead we are left with a greater appreciation and respect for the ocean.

Dunes welcome us home after a successful sunrise photo shoot.

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Glowing Dunes at Sun rise – CLICK ME for more abstract photography.

Please browse my reasonably priced stock photography. License a photograph, download and use it for your website or blog. Click this link to browse all my Getty IStock Photography offerings.

Or click this link or any photograph or this link to select a print with custom framing from my “Textures” Fine Art Gallery.

Offering of Black Skimmer Photographs

Looking for the perfect photo for your web site and blog?

Looking for the perfect photo for your web site and blog?

Browse my reasonably priced stock photography.

License the photo, download and use it.

Click this link for my recently published Black Skimmers Feeding photographs. This link will open a new page to display my Black Skimmer photographs on Getty IStock.

These are different and higher quality images from my posting of earlier this week.

Or

Click this link to browse all my Getty IStock Photography offerings.

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Lady Feeding Gulls, Cocoa Beach Dawn

unflappable lady hand feeds seagulls

When my wife 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.

Copyright 2018 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved