Last Sunday I met friends Debbie, Tom, and Michael at Blue Cypress Lake for a fun-filled boat ride of dramatic sunrises and flying Ospreys. Well, that’s what it was supposed to be, and what it was in March 2012, May 2012, and March 2013. So I happily jumped out of bed at 4am and drove for an hour and a half to the middle of nowhere in the pitch black of pre-dawn. As the first light began to appear in the skies, it showed me clouds – lots and lots of thick clouds. It made me glad I stuck a garbage bag in my vest in case I needed to protect my gear from rain. We set off in our boat, determined to have a good time despite the weather…
The above was our sunrise tree from our last trip. It looked a little different with ominous rainclouds behind it! Because the light levels were so low and the Ospreys weren’t flying much, I spent more time with my wide-angle lens taking pictures of the lake landscapes. This was one of my favorites. Even on a nasty morning, Blue Cypress Lake is gorgeous.
When there’s no light for good flight shots, switch to silhouette shots! We laughed as this Osprey combined trips, bringing in a fish for breakfast and a little extra nesting material all at once. I think it was about this time that Michael remarked, “I am so ashamed. I have to delete these images from my camera – I don’t even want my computer to see how bad they are!”
The lake was eerily quiet. The young Osprey were flat down in their nests in their “danger” positions. I don’t think it was because of us – we were keeping the boat away from the tree roots after a warning from Mrs. Middleton because somebody had damaged one of their boats. I wonder if the recent storms played havoc with our poor Ospreys. In this particular nest, the adult had a fish, so the babies were hungry and not quite as worried about staying hunched down. They played tug-of-war with the fish bites. It was cute.
The only Osprey in the air seemed to be the breakfast-bringers. It was strange not to see the skies filled with birds, even as the light levels improved. For the image above, I hated the color version – the sky was washed out, the bird’s head blended into his wing, and the brightest object was the red fish guts…not exactly what your eye should be attracted to! I was pleasantly surprised when I played with Nik Silver Efex and converted the image to black and white. Now your eye is drawn to the bird’s face and not the gore… (You’re welcome, Mum-mum!)
We almost missed the chick in the above nest completely. He stayed hunched down. Look at the middle of Mom’s wing and you can see his head peeking up.
Towards the end of the morning, the storm clouds finally passed, and we got a few rays of sunshine. It’s too bad that the whispy clouds that remained weren’t our sunrise clouds, or we would have gotten some amazing sunrise images! Just a few hours make a big difference in weather for nature photography. Even as the light levels improved, the Osprey weren’t all that cooperative. It was still a fun morning with friends, though. We laughed a lot, and I can’t wait to go back next year.