The grey clouds already evident approaching sunrise did not provide much hope for engaging in my favorite genre of photography, landscape and scenic photography, but my chosen destination for the morning, Fox Lake Park here in Titusville, Florida does offer a few other options. With a resident population of Limpkins probing the shorelines and a pair of almost tame Sand-Hill Cranes in residence, maybe it was a chance to add some shots of these to my portfolio. Upon arriving at the park I followed the one way road that follows Fox Lakes shoreline to the first point, spotting one Limpkin probing for mussels and a bit farther down, the pair of Cranes walking through the parks picnic grounds towards the lake. (Note; the image at left is from my archives)
Upon my getting out of the car the two cranes turned right towards me, and I readied my Nikon D200 with a Nikon F2.8 180mm lens. They came close enough for me to shoot a series of head close-ups, but it disturbed me that they were in fact expecting to be fed. Feeding wildlife is illegal in Florida and rightly so, as it changes wildlife behavior, either to the detriment of the wildlife or the people around them. Ill cover that in another blog entry. Anyway, the Florida Sand Hill Crane is one of six subspecies of Sand Hill Cranes, breeds in Florida, and is listed as threatened by the Endangered Species Act. An adult stands almost four feet tall and the wingspan can be towards 6 feet. Its a grayish blue with a bright red forehead.
Ahead I saw another limpkin probing the shallows the shoreline. I made my way over and grabbed a few shots, but this is a smaller bird and being primarily a landscape photographer I dont own the lenses required for great close-up bird photography, however I do enjoy photographing them in context within the landscape. With the cloud cover present, today was not the day for that. Limpkins are found in Florida, the Caribbean, Central America, and throughout the Amazon Basin. They stand about two feet tall with a 40 inch wingspan, are brown with white markings, and often mistaken for juvenile Ibis. They are considered specialized feeders upon apple snails, and their bills are curved to allow them to extract a snail from a shell without having to break the shell itself. However they also feed on freshwater mussels which apparently Fox Lake has in abundance. I had always wondered why the lake shoreline was covered with open mussel shells until I sat and watched these guys feed. They step off the shore into the water, probe for a mussel or snail, bring it ashore and open and eat, repeat.
Fox Lake Park is west of Titusville, Florida, at the end of Fox Lake Road. The park is the only development along the lake and is a landscaped park with picnic tables, pavilions for rent, a playground, boat ramp, fishing dock and more. With natural woodlands and wetlands surrounding the park and the lake it makes a great early morning and evening scenic photography spot. The aforementioned limpkins, Sand-Hill Cranes, along with Herons, Egrets, Coots, Ducks, Moore-hens and the occasional Osprey sighting make Fox Lake a pretty good birding destination as well. The kayaking is great and often overlooked because of the nearby proximity of the Indian River and Mosquito lagoons the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge, and the Canaveral National Seashore. A canal connects Fox Lake to South Lake (to the north, go figure) and a side creek along the southwestern shore of South lake will take to the site of an Indian Midden. The 2,800 acre property to the west of the lake and the park, once slated for development has been purchased by the Brevard County Environmentally Endangered Lands Program and efforts are under way to create a hiking and off road biking trails system for public use. Ill report on that when its open. Fox Lake Park also offers shoreline fishing for Largemouth Bass, Bream, Crappie, and Catfish and can be pretty good at times. To get there from I-95, take Exit 215 east on State Road 50 for 0.3 miles and turn left at the first stoplight onto State Road 405. Go 2.2 miles north to the second stop light at Fox Lake Road. Turn left on Fox Lake Road which ends at the park, about 1.5 miles.
For more information about Fishing, Birding, Kayaking, Hiking, Biking, Backcountry Camping, Surfing, Windsurfing, Snorkeling and more along our Space Coast, Click the image at left to go to www.SpaceCoastOutdoors.Net