Tuesday seemed like it was finally going to be a decent morning for photography, no wind, stars in the early morning sky and the eastern horizon was starting to glow. In fact I was already running a little late so I quickly drove to one of my locally favorite photography spots, Fox lake Park in Titusville Fl. I had recently been there and managed to get a nice head shot of a Sand Hill Crane, but other than that the day had been overcast and a dull grey. Upon arrival I quickly got out of the car, set my camera and began to shoot. After shooting a few shots of the sun coming up I spotted movement down the shoreline of the lake, a feeding Limpkin.
I moved down to where he was and noted which direction he was working towards along the shoreline as he fed. Rather than try to get a close up of the bird I wanted to work it into an overall landscape shot so I was shooting with a 28mm wide angle on my Nikon D200. I positioned myself near the shoreline in the direction he was working, moving only when his head was underwater probing for freshwater mussels. When I got to position I lay down on the ground and waited motionless for the bird to cross into my field of view towards the rising sun. I have to say there is something about lying on your stomach in wet grass first thing in the morning thats just not right. But then again, isnt an artist supposed to suffer for their art? Just before he got in the position I wanted him he found a mussel and brought it ashore to open and eat.
I watched him as he attempted to open this mussel, meanwhile the sun was moving slowly upward in the sky and any minute would break the tree line opposite my position. I wanted more shots of him in the water before that happened, so I waited, and waited, while this bird was busy pounding on this mussel, repositioning it, and more pounding. Sun getting higher, bird still pounding. Finally I saw him get the thing open and down his mussel, just in time, and venture out into the water, allowing me to get a few more shots.
Then I decided to switch lenses to a 180mm telephoto. I waited until his head was underwater and rolled away from the waters edge, and made the swap. When his head again went under, I dove into position. He patiently waded and hunted while I rattled off more shots, Im not sure if he was unaware of my presence, or just very tolerant. I wasnt complaining. Then I heard a familiar sound, kind of like a bunch of folks practicing their rolling Rs, the calls of multiple Sand Hill Cranes.
Just down the shoreline four of them were standing. I knew there were two that lived in or near the area, but apparently there are more. I rolled away from the Limpkin, got up and approached the Cranes from behind a tree and began shooting with the 180mm. Unable to get all four of them in a photo at once I focused on the three that were bunched together at the shoreline, backlit by the sun which had now cleared the tree line across the lake.I then left the cranes to get some shots of the lake itself, walking down towards the point where the lake curves around the park.
As I was focusing out over the lake trying to capture the mist over the lake, probably too late because it had mostly dissipated, I heard the loud beating of wings and realized that two of the cranes had taken off and luckily right into the scene I was shooting. Though it was getting later in the morning that I normally like to shoot, I decided to go ahead and shoot a last few shots of the lake.
Normally I will shoot beginning well before sunrise and end about an hour to two after sunrise, especially in an open, un-shaded environment. Any later and the light will be typically too harsh for getting your best colors in a photograph. The same is true of the last hour or two before sunset. Midday light tends to have too much blue and colors will be washed out. Thats why the hours around sunrise and sunset are referred to as the Magic Light by many outdoor photographers.
One more shot then home for Breakfast and another cup of coffee.
About Fox Lake Park;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, Hiking, Kayaking, Backcountry Camping, Surfing, and more along Floridas Space Coast, Click the image at left to go to www.SpaceCoastOutdoors.net