Gatorland – 1 Feb. 2013

The annual photographer pass program at Gatorland in Kissimmee, Florida started again on Friday, and Keith H. and I were the first ones there.  We saw Great Egrets, a Red-shouldered Hawk, a Black-crowned Night-Herron, Wood Storks, Anhingas, Boat-tailed Grackles, and a few other species.

Female Boat-tailed Grackle
Female Boat-tailed Grackle – a common bird in uncommon light

Great Egret in breeding colors
Great Egret and reflection – all dressed up in formal wear for the start of breeding season

Black-crowned Night-Heron
Black-crowned Night-Heron – a nice bonus, since I don’t see these very often

And of course you can also see Alligators in the park. They’re starting to breed too – we heard quite a few bellows.

Very still gator and tree reflection
Very still gator and tree reflection

With the photographer pass you can get into the park at 7:30am Thursday – Sunday and stay until dusk on Saturday.  This lets you photograph the nesting birds with nicer light and no tourists.  It greatly improves your chances of getting good photos of the birds and their breeding behavior in the rookery.  These are wild birds that choose to nest in the area because of the protection offered by alligators from other predators such as snakes and raccoons.  They’re acclimated to people so you can get quite close to many of them.  The Great Egrets are already courting and building nests – they seem to be the earliest breeders.  The Wood Storks are getting started too.  Later in the year you’ll also see Snowy and Cattle Egrets, cormorants, and if you’re lucky maybe some other species breeding.

Gatorland is a great place to visit at this time of year.  If you’re in town for a short while, you can also buy a one day photo pass to get in early.  Check it out!  Click on the photos above to go to Flickr where you can see larger versions. You can also see more photos from Gatorland in this set on Flickr.  And you can read my previous posts about Gatorland at this link.

Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. Now – go make some photos!

©2013, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.

About Ed Rosack

I live in Central Florida and enjoy exploring the area. I'm interested in nature and wildlife photography - and many other things. I'm the chief reporter, lead writer, managing editor, main photographer, and publisher of the Central Florida Photo Ops website hosted at www.edrosack.com. You can also see more of my photos on my Flickr stream at http://www.flickr.com/photos/edrosack/