Swamp Sunflower

Parting the tall green stalks revealed – a cow. She blinked at me. I blinked at her. I took a step back. She continued munching. Dawn was breaking and I still hadn’t found a composition to show the beauty of this massive marsh filled with gold. In desperation, I pointed the lens eastward and hoped for the best.

“Missed it by that much.”

(If you remember that line by Don Adams from “Get Smart”, congratulations! We are officially old.)

The sun had already popped above a low cloud on the horizon and the previously blue predawn sky was now awash in bright white light. Sigh.

We were on the northwest shore of Lake Jesup, northeast of Orlando, in Seminole County, Florida. Specifically, we were making our first trip to the Marl Bed Flats Tract of the Lake Jesup Conservation Area. The date of our visit was October 11, 2019. I read about the area and its potential for outstanding displays of Swamp Flowers (Helianthus angustifolius) in Ed Rosak’s wonderful photography blog, Central Florida Photo Ops. In addition to his own scouting report, Ed pointed readers to another blogger, Jeff Stamer (Firefall Photography) who provided detailed information on getting to the fields along with great tips on making the most of a photography trip.

The past couple of years have apparently been too wet for good flower propagation, not to mention you would have had to have a boat to reach the area. This year conditions were good. A short hike through a beautiful oak/cabbage palm hammock opens onto a large expanse of marsh absolutely filled with sunflowers! Many stalks are over six feet tall and so dense in spots as to make walking through them very challenging. The ground was wet from three days of rain early in the week and I already mentioned there may be cows hiding amongst the blooms. (Another warning, watch where you step if you are averse to that sort of thing.)

The morning was glorious! I could complain about no puffy white clouds in the sky and there was a bit of a breeze requiring a higher shutter speed and the ground was uneven and wet and — and there were millions of flowers so creating a composition was almost impossible.



Marl Bed Flats

Marl Bed Flats

Marl Bed Flats

Marl Bed Flats

Marl Bed Flats

Marl Bed Flats


A female Snail Kite tried to figure out what I was. She’s sporting a band (ring) on her right leg.

Marl Bed Flats

Marl Bed Flats

Marl Bed Flats

Marl Bed Flats


A pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks head for Lake Jesup, whistling all the way.

Marl Bed Flats

Marl Bed Flats

Marl Bed Flats


Marl Bed Flats


Mark the date on next year’s calendar. Late September through early October. Check the blogs I’ve provided links to below for possible scouting reports. Go. Be dazzled.

Enjoy your search for a natural place and come back for a visit!


Additional Information

Lake Jesup Conservation Area – Marl Bed Flats Tract

Central Florida Photo Ops

Firefall Photography

Categories: Birds, Florida, Photography, Travel, Wildflowers | Tags: , , , , | 8 Comments

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8 thoughts on “Swamp Sunflower

  1. Absolutely beautiful shots! One year I’m going to get out there.

  2. Jeff Stamer

    Glad you found my blog helpful. Looks like you made good use of it, your photos are beautiful!

  3. edro123

    Great write-up and photos, Wally!

    I’m glad you spotted some wildlife out there. My imagination says your close up portrait of the cow in the sunflowers must be really special. 🙂

    And thanks for the link!

    • By the time I got set up in time to miss the sunrise, the cow had joined the rest of the herd and disappeared in the flowers.
      Apparently, cow photos are in demand, so I’ll have to return.
      Again, Ed, thank you so much for all the good information and inspiration!

  4. All lovely, but I was rather hoping to see a cow… 🙂

    • Thank you, Dinah! Next time, I’ll see what I can do to make some UDDERLY beautiful cow portraits which should be quite MOOVING.

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