Nesting

December through February is Florida Osprey nesting season.

“Florida ospreys (Pandion haliaetus) commonly nest on power poles, communication towers, water navigation devices, lighting fixtures, outdoor billboards and other man-made structures as well as in decaying or dead trees.” This quote from the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission web site is a fitting introduction. For this, the fourth post of this series (Click me for the first post, “Endless Searching“), I explore images of Osprey nesting behavior.

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“Other Man-Made Structures”

Early morning winter Cocoa Beach walks offer a new experience with each dawn be it a change in wind, light, or beach-combing offerings. This looming crane was a consistent specter the entire month, poised over a downtown parking garage under construction.

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On the Lookout

Distant Figures

Each winter morning January 2019 I left our ocean side condo to walk the beach, taking equipment according to a whim. For this series I used the Sony Alpha 700 with a variable “Zoom” lens. In this next shot the focal length was set to maximum.

Searching the internet (“Florida Osprey behavior”), a link from http://www.naturesacademy.org states, in Florida, Osprey nesting season is December through February. The following series of photographs clearly show an Osprey with nesting material. The header image for this post clearly shows the markings of the individual holding a large branch.

The second individual is close to the same size, it is a reasonable conclusion the two are flying together. The series was taken in a 33 second time span.

The two were flying around the crane and it is beyond imagination they’d be successful building on an actively used crane. Would construction come to a halt until the nest was abandoned? I wonder.

In following days there were no signs of nesting behavior on the crane.

Copyright 2022, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Shoulder to Shoulder

Snatch and Grab Shopper

“They walk among us” can evoke horror, still it is a fitting description for the many species successful in an ecological niche occupied by humans. This is the third post of a series featuring the Osprey of Cocoa Beach, Florida. The first post is “Endless Searching,” In this post we follow a householder on a shopping expedition.

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Observation

Search internet references on Florida Osprey you find there is a mixture of year-round residents and migrants passing through spring/fall to points farther north. This being January, my brilliant conclusion is these are residents of Cocoa Beach, maintaining nests. My next post will have more on this.

Each winter morning January 2019 I left our ocean side condo to walk the beach, taking equipment according to a whim. For this series I used the Sony Alpha 700 with a variable lens. In this first shot, the watchful pose of the hunting Osprey is apparent, long glide with head slightly down.

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On the Lookout

Dive!!

Once these hawks entered my dim awareness and their habits understood, with a lot of luck I was able to click the button at the right time. You can see in the previous post, “Fishing Creatures,” how little time elapsed during a dive, the split second opportunity seen in the following photograph.

Committed

Wow, that is impact. The bird is poised to grab one fish, spotted under the water 50+ feet away, talons extended.

Into the Drink

Success rate? Those days in January, if the Osprey hit the water more than 50% of the time it flew away with a fish.

Our seven year old grandson is an enthusiastic fisherman and might be able to identify this catch. In the distance, on the horizon is Cape Canaveral Air Force Base, the lighthouse and space launch towers .

An image of Osprey / Human closeness. The long lens tends to bring objects closer together, the Osprey is far away from the early morning walkers.

A reader, “ekurie”, in observing Ospreys noticed the catch is oriented to aerodynamic, placed head first toward the direction of flight. The hawk is using the evolutionary adaptations of the fish, to reduce drag in the water, to flying through the air.

This snatch and grab shopper is headed straight home to a nest beyond the shore front condos.

A Well Deserved Meal.
Copyright 2019, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Underground Railroad

Autumn Wonder

We have often travelled Lower Creek Road as an alternate route to visit my son and his family who live in Freeville, a village named for the activity of the Underground Railroad. After noticing this sign in passing for years, this week we stopped on a glorious autumn morning to capture it. I had packed the Sony Alpha 700 dslr for just such an opportunity.

Just off the road, under a maple tree in full autumn color (yellow), ground covered with fallen leaves (brown) on a fine early October morning, the sign reads, “New York, UNDERGROUND RAILROAD, HOME OF WILLIAM HANFORD AND WIFE ALTHA C. TODD, WHO SHELTERED FUGITIVE SLAVES ON THE WAY TO CANADA AND FREEDOM, STATE EDUCATION DEPARTMENT 1932”. These dark blue background, bright yellow letter signed are found throughout this region and much appreciated.

An added plus for me is the acceptance of both photographs by Getty Istock. Click this link to view a selection of my Getty photography in and around Ithaca, New York.

Copyright 2021 Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Endless Searching

discerning a fascinating species

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.”

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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 2021, Michael Stephen Wills All Rights Reserved

Autumn Hillside

Fillmore Glen Autumn

The first week of November 2020 I posted a series of photographs from Fillmore Glen from the Canon 5D Mark IV. Today, I present a series of photographs from the same day using the Sony Alpha 700 dslr using a variable 18-200 mm lens.

Hint: click image for larger view. Ctrl/+ to enlarge / Ctrl/- to reduce

Click me for the early November postings using the Canon 5D Mark IV

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Contemplation II repost

Climb down the cliff stair, 223 of them, to this quiet place.

Click Me for this 2019 autumn wonder post.

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Contemplation I repost

Climb down the cliff stair, 223 of them, to this quiet place.

Click Me for this 2019 autumn wonder post.

Copyright 2020 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Spring Outing IV

Turn to Light

Wildflowers flourished where the slope turned to the north and late afternoon light spread across the small ravine created by a small stream. This early in the season White Trillium buds were forming between three green bracts.

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The above photograph taken handheld with a variable zoom lens captures the plant and environment. On the forest floor is twig of hemlock, probably knocked off by squirrels feeding on the tiny cones. Oak leaves from last season frame the dark green bracts. We also see a few wintergreen leaves and the rich soil.

With the low light ISO is 2000, the f-stop of 5.6 allowed crisp details of the hemlock and wintergreen, the focus is soft on the oak leaves. Where is topography allowed sunlight, the White Trillium were a bit further along. Here is a bud opening.

Here I used a travel tripod and a macro lens with f-stop opened up to 3.2, not lens maximum, and all but the forward bract tip are in focus. A lower camera angle places surroundings in distance, allowing all to be blurred unrecognizable: the plant is the star of this shot. ISO 800 with the ample light. I was struggling with the spring breezes, having to wait for a break to take each exposure.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Spring Outing III

Red Pine on the level

One hundred and fifty feet in a series of steep climbs is the effort expended to reach the relatively level portion of South Rim Trail where the tall Red Pines briefly reign. Here the trees thrive on the northeast facing slope. They grow in this way in one other location, in the upper park, on an eponymous trail.

Encounters with groups of people descending always demanded I step off the trail to allow social distancing. Everyone work a flimsy face covering, although Governor Coumo’s order covers situations where social distancing is not possible. As of you, we do not have the loose masks; but only the N95 or a full respirator (both acquired very early on, our respirators were purchased for spreading lawn chemicals and spray painting).

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Red Pine (Pinus resinosa), also know as Norway Pine, shed pollen prolifically. Some Aprils my boots are covered with it, a dusting of yellow. Not today.

A species easy to spot among the green, an example of a shrub of the genus Gaultheria, though a very small specimen. The common name is wintergreen and I have never found larger specimens in Treman park. It is growing among the mosses on the wall of Enfield Glen South Rim.

The tough wintergreen leaves endue the cold seasons, the name is synonymous with evergreen.

Both shots are handheld, the macro is from a 100 mm “macro” fixed focus lens. ISO 2500, the f-stop to be wide open at 2.8 to gather the sparse light and present the subjects, blurring the immediate background. The overview shot is also a high ISO, 2000, the f-stop 5.8 on a variable focus lens set to 60 mm.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills

Spring Outing II

Lower Waterfall

This series of posts opens with the ascent to where the wildflowers grow.

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After just a taste of the climb to come, hikers are treated to an view of the Lower Falls of Enfield Creek. I call them the Wedding Cake. Summertime, a dam is erected, the water is deep enough to dive into the very cold creek water, lower than 70 degrees.

The trail is on a beetling crag.

Looking up Enfield Glen above the falls. Up to the trail, keeping distance was no problem. It is nowhere near as crowded as the trail to Taughannock Falls in February.

Copyright 2019 All Rights Reserved Michael Stephen Wills