Despite living half an hour from St Augustine, I'd never visited the Alligator Farm before. Money constraints and a poor vehicle were a couple of the reasons. So this Spring (with those issues somewhat taken care of) I decided to attend! I brought along my new Sigma 150-500 lens for the gators and the nesting birds. And...my god, was it a gorgeous eye-opening and amazing trip. Two trips, since I went back a couple weeks later. Hundreds of birds roosted on trees above 50+ alligators and crocodiles. Now, birds and gators are 2 of my 3 favorite creatures. I seek them out in the wild to observe and enjoy as well as photograph them, but it's difficult work. Both subjects are camera shy and people shy. I rarely see more than one alligator at a time in the wild. So to walk in on this mass gathering of creatures was enthralling to say the least.
Some of the species I saw: snowy egrets, roseate spoonbills, great egrets, little blue herons, green herons, wood storks, cattle egrets, reddish egrets, and more I'm probably forgetting. They perched and fought and displayed in a whirlwind of color and sound. Others gathered nesting material on the ground, dangerously close to the basking alligators and crocs.
Speaking of gators! Despite all my field time with them, I'd never heard the distinctive 'alligator roar' in the wild. On my second Alligator Farm trip, dozens of them began emitting this powerful sound. I thought it was an engine at first. The vibrations literally shook the pathway under my feet as I hurried over to observe. Talk about a scary and powerful moment.
After one full day trip and one half-day trip, I came away with a dizzying amount of photographs (most of which are still in processing.) Hopefully I'll be able to share a chunk of these with you all.
If any bird or reptile photographers have a chance to visit the Alligator Farm, do it. You won't be disappointed believe me.
My second project... Florida in Springtime! Now, some of you probably think Florida has 2 seasons, summer and not-quite-summer, and that's basically true in south Florida. But north/north central Florida has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it 3 week Springtime. Delicate flowers spring up around lakes and in ditches. Flowers on the choke vines in pine forests bloom for literally two days. Vegetation goes from winter brown to every shade of green. There's an undeniable delicacy in this limbo period just before the heat squashes it for six months. Usually our Spring is late March to early or mid-April. This year it was just the month of April. Temperatures run from 58-77 usually during this time. I'm sure that varies slightly in different parts of north Florida. It's about over, sadly. Although the extra rain water from the year before made this an especially vivid and lush Spring.
Anyway, I've been taking a series of pictures focusing on our transient springtime, a lot of them macro and close ups of plants and flowers. I hope to put those up sometime soon as well.