It’s that time of year again! Time to drive down to Yeehaw Junction in the crazy-early hours of the morning for some Blue Cypress Lake photography. :) A sunrise pontoon boat ride on gorgeous Blue Cypress Lake is totally worth the early morning. My friends Michael, Debbie, and Debbie’s Sherpa Tom and I met two weekends ago for a fun morning of landscapes and birding. You see, Blue Cypress Lake is one of the best places to go to photograph nesting Ospreys. The lake is beautiful, with almost no human presence at all. The shoreline stretches before you and the Ospreys call you to photograph. And we did!! :)
Ironically, the day started with very slim prospects for sunrise. The weather forecast said that the heavy overnight clouds would lift a few hours before sunrise. Well, as usual, the weather forecast was a little off! The clouds were thick as pea soup as we arrived at the lake (better than last year, though!).
I think we were a little excited – we all got there about half an hour before the boat would leave. That’s dedication for people that drive 2-3 hours to get there! :) As the sun peeked out over the horizon, the clouds really did start to lift, and the sun lit them up in all sorts of wonderful color.
I loved my sunrise shot with the lone cypress, but it seemed to be missing something. Later that morning, we found an Osprey with a huge stick. It was easily twice as tall as the bird. He flew around with it as if he wasn’t quite sure what to do with it. Other birds chased him, jealous of its size. Or did he steal it from someone else’s nest? He flew too low at one point and got his stick stuck in a tree. It was hard for him to get it free. We laughed so hard watching him. But the light levels were pretty low that morning, and my under-exposed shots were easy to darken. So I took the Osprey with his stick and blended him into my sunrise. It’s a composite, but that’s how I will remember that morning!
The Osprey above flew right towards us with a nice big fish. As my dad will attest, I love to photograph Ospreys carrying fish! My dad likes to tease me that I won’t even take an Osprey’s picture at the Circle B Bar Reserve unless he has a fish. A few frames later, this same bird was still carrying his fish, and he had his mouth open with his tongue out! I’ve been getting lots of birdie-tongue shots lately.
The babies are starting to hatch. The babies are a week or two old before they get big enough to see over the tops of the nest. This baby above intrigued us because his colors are very dark, darker than other babies we’d observed. It’s amazing how Nature camouflages young birds. These guys blend in pretty well with their nest.
The sun crept behind the clouds, making flight photography challenging. I kept my wide-angle lens on my 5D Mark III, and as our boat driver wove the boat in between the cypress trees, I watched for pretty landscape opportunities. I loved how the sun beams crept through the clouds. This shot is another classic Blue Cypress Lake image – the beautiful tree against the rising sun, with an Osprey sitting on her nest. I hope your little ones hatch soon, Mama! Maybe I’ll be back to check on you!
Want to learn more about nature photography at Blue Cypress Lake?
Check out my Blue Cypress Lake page with more information about the location, map, website, photography tips, etc. It is archived by date so you can see my images from previous visits. Maybe you'll be inspired for your own trip!
Planning a trip to Florida? Don't miss my Central Florida Bird Photography Locations reference guide!