For my birthday this year, Lynn gave me a photographer’s pass to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm. While you can take photos of alligators, the special thing about this park is that they’ve expanded the Alligator Swamp exhibit. The extra area includes a boardwalk where you can stay safely above the monsters in the water and get within feet of nesting birds. These wild birds have learned that the gators keep predators out of the trees, and as a result the park has become one of the largest natural bird rookeries in the state of Florida.
From March 2 – July 18, the annual pass allows you to enter the park early (~8 am) before it opens to general admission. May is the prime time for nesting and breeding. Lynn and I have been back several times.
Since they’re accustomed to people, you can get quite close to a variety of birds, although you’ll still get the best results with a long telephoto lens and a sturdy tripod. I get by with my 70 – 300 zoom, but there are people there with monster glass! Many use flash with a “Better Beamer” magnifier for greater range.
There’s an annual photo contest, with the winners used for a calendar sold at the gift shop.
For more information, visit the St. Augustine Alligator farm website .
My bird rookery photographs are here.
©2007, Ed Rosack. All rights reserved.