Thursday, October 30, 2014

First Bird Photo at New Work

Yesterday I got to watch a rocket launch from the new workplace and as I left for the day I got a chance to photograph my first bird encounter at this location. I was pulling out of the parking lot and noticed a Loggerhead Shrike flying in from above toward the ground. It then flew up to a spot next to me and proceeded to thrash a newly captured caterpillar into submission before it swallowed it down.

Loggerhead Shrike

I love Shrikes and it was nice to have one as my first bird here at my new job. Birding has actually been pretty quiet this year for some reason but I hope to start getting more photo ops as I figure out this new landscape.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Atlas V Launch

It has been a while since I could see a rocket launch from OTown but today an Atlas V was scheduled to lift off at midday. Had to figure out which way to look since it would be from the old Air Force base instead of the shuttle pads but the launch went up as planned and I had some clear air to watch from. Well, after it cleared the inland low clouds.

Atlas V

Atlas V rockets are huge so you can't miss them once you figure out the starting point. I watched it rise and then decided to get a shot with an airplane in the field of view. Orlando International Airport in just down the road a bit so it makes for a nice comparison. That rocket is 50 miles away at launch and even father this high as it heads into space.

Atlas V

I took these at my new workplace in Winter Park, FL so now I know which direction to watch for that flame. There will be some exciting new launches in the next few months and I can't wait to try and photograph them all!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Partial Solar Eclipse

A partial solar eclipse was set for this evening. In our region it would only be visible for a brief time before sunset. I headed to the nearest tallest spot which is the Target parking garage that offers an open view to the West.

I got there and was soon joined by a few other people. There is only one real reason to be up on the top of the garage and it is sky watching. One of the folks had a homemade telescope with a filter so we all took turns looking at the event before I took a turn to see what I could capture. Remember kids, do not look directly at the Sun without a good filter. Especially with a zoom lens.

I have no solar filter. Instead, I decided to use my sunglasses to cover the lens and take some shots. Even the photo kinda hurts your eyes! The partial eclipse is on the right side of the Sun.

Solar Eclipse

Someday I will have a real solar filter. Until then I flirt with blindness.

Mead Cruising

Another month has flown past without much birding. Sigh. Job hunting has been more interesting and I had a couple of interviews in the past couple of days so I figured I owed it to myself to hit Mead Botanical Gardens today to relax. Interviews seemed to go well. We shall see how things turn out. Meanwhile, out to get some fresh air.

I was thinking I might not find too much today. Things were quiet and on my first stop just inside the gardens I found a Red-shouldered Hawk perched near a reliable birding spot. There would not be any warblers around here for a while.

Red-shouldered Hawk

Soon, I was at the cement bridge and was starting to hear more birds. I quickly had a male Black-throated Blue Warbler right in front of me but he would never leave the shade for a better shot.

Black-throated Blue Warbler

Farther up the trail I got to the wooden bridge and was happy to see an approaching female Black and White Warbler. She raced around the tree limbs and paid little attention to me as she hunted some morsels for breakfast.

Black and White Warbler

I moved along up the creek and started hear something in the trees but I could not locate the source. I was not even paying attention to the closer side of the creek when I realized that I was standing next to a juvenile Anhinga. Like, 6 feet from me! I had to back up to get this shot with the zoom.


Usually, Anhinga fly off when you get as close as, say, 40 feet. This bird was just afraid of me at all. I have never had that happen before. I got a few more close-up shots and then thanked my new friend for the opportunity to hang out for a few minutes before I headed up the trail.


Nothing else caught my attention up along the boardwalk or through the the Butterfly Garden so I decided to head home. I took a slight detour toward the pavilions and was totally surprised by a flash of black and white. A Red-headed Woodpecker swooped up in front of me and landed on a nearby tree. Too bad the light was in the wrong spot.

Red-headed Woodpecker

I tried to maneuver into a better spot for a shot when a Red-bellied Woodpecker zipped in and chased the other bird away. What to do? Take a shot of the new arrival, of course.

Red-bellied Woodpecker

Nice to have an unexpected bird this morning. I will be sure to start making more bird runs soon. Starting to feel more secure. I am sure one of the interviews will pay off and then I will have a lot less birding time during the weeks. Having a job, though, is still Priority 1. I will take the birds where and when I can for now.