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.
A female Snail Kite tried to figure out what I was. She’s sporting a band (ring) on her right leg.
A pair of Black-bellied Whistling-Ducks head for Lake Jesup, whistling all the way.
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!