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Birdshooting in Everglades

Angus Watkins , Oct 25, 2008; 12:09 p.m.

I welcome suggestions from any previous Everglades bird- and wildlife-photographers about specific prime sites, particularly in the area near or around Chokoloskee and Everglades City where I'll be based for a week in early December. Can you recommend particular land-based positions and also REASONABLY-priced boat liveries or charter services that cd put me pretty near the likes of shore waders, big birds, owls, hawks, eagles, etc.? I'm in the usual Nikon owners' predicament of having a D200 with a 300mm f4 and a teleconverter, so have SOME reach, but not enough "shekels" to own a 500mm; hence, the closer to subjects the better! I'm happy to hike a few miles, lugging outfit with a good tripod to get to good vantage point, too. I do have the Great Florida Bird trail Guides for this area, so am looking for whatever EXTRA nuggets of detail ideas you might have. Many thanks! Angus

Responses

Shun Cheung , Oct 25, 2008; 12:31 p.m.

It has been over 10 years since I was last at Everglades City, but we used to rent a canoe and padle around. There were also boat rides into the Thousand Island area. A 300mm lens should be fine from the boat, especially with the 1.5x crop factor on the D200.

When I visited the Everglades in early 2006, the Flamingo area was all damaged by hurricanes and we could not enter. The Anhinga Trial was as good as ever, but you need to drive around via Florida City to enter that area from the east. Shark Valley was disappointing for the afternoon I was there.


Anhinga Trail, Nikon D2X with 12-24mm/f4 lens at 24mm

greg stephens , Oct 25, 2008; 08:42 p.m.

Try Sweetwater Slough bridge, which is about 2 to 3 miles south of US 41 on Loop Road. Loop Road really is a loop and where we are talking about is on the western end. We were there last Jan/Feb and saw about all the usual sights. An added bonus is the day we were there, the water was crystal clear and saw anhingas and cormorants swimming underwater chasing fish. Most birds there in the pool on both sides of the road are used to humans in close quarters and a 300 to 400 is fine. There is plenty of room to park and it's wasn't too crowded when we were there.

greg stephens , Oct 25, 2008; 08:45 p.m.

Try Sweetwater Slough bridge, which is about 2 to 3 miles south of US 41 on Loop Road. Loop Road really is a loop and where we are talking about is on the western end. We were there last Jan/Feb and saw about all the usual sights. An added bonus is the day we were there, the water was crystal clear and saw anhingas and cormorants swimming underwater chasing fish. Most birds there in the pool on both sides of the road are used to humans in close quarters and a 300 to 400 is fine. There is plenty of room to park and it's wasn't too crowded when we were there.

Charles Mason , Oct 26, 2008; 01:57 a.m.

http://shop.photographamerica.com/category-s/48.htm

you might look at this guy's photograph america newsletters on the everglades as they are very good...

Vincent Lucas , Oct 26, 2008; 09:15 p.m.

I live in Naples, Florida and I'm a bird guide and amateur nature photographer. Normally, I'd recommend Sweetwater Slough on Loop Road in the Big Cypress National Preserve as an earlier respondent suggested. However, due to tremendous summer rains from tropical storms, all of the Everglades as well as Big Cypress National Preserve are inundated with high water. Loop Road is closed and probably will remain closed for the foreseeable future. Read this:

http://tinyurl.com/5a3uzb

The tower via the tram ride at the Shark Valley Unit might also be closed for the same reason. It's best to check with the Everglades National Park staff. You can find their website via Google.

You don't say what kind of birds you want to photograph. I assume waders and other "showy" birds. . . . As an alternative to Loop Road in the Big Cypress National Preserve, I'd recommend the nearby Turner River Road/Wagonwheel Road/Birdon Road Loop. Actually, if you keep going north on Turner River Road past Wagonwheel Rd., the birds get better i.e Purple Gallinule, possible American Bittern, Wood Duck on occasion plus all of your larger waders, Anhinga, plus raptors (the pale extimus subspecies of Red-shouldered Hawk is native and common), plus many others. Alligators abound and snakes are plentiful along Turner River Road, especially late in the day. There's many other areas for birds and to do photography. Go here to read about them:

http://www.caloosabirdclub.org/HotSpots.html

and

http://www.tropicalaudubon.org/locations.html

and

http://www.tropicalaudubon.org/specialty.html

Lastly, there are tour boats out of Everglades National Park & Ten Thousand Islands in Everglades City. Go here:

(link). Also canoe & kayak rentals for the same areas.

I hope that helps.

Cheers.

Vince

Vincent Lucas Naples, FL vplucas@comcast.net http://www.flickr.com/photos/leppyone/ http://www.caloosabirdclub.org

Angus Watkins , Oct 28, 2008; 10:14 a.m.

Ah, good thoughts, all of you. i must admit the reported high water conditions don't sound very promising for 'Glades trekking. I will continue to watch the trends, appreciating very much your suggestions, leads and links. Many thanks!

Johnny Villaronga , Oct 30, 2008; 11:38 a.m.

Angus

I've been photographing wildlife in the Everglades and surrounding areas for the past 5/6 yrs from once to three times a week. The reason I tell you this is because nature is unpredictable and many times you get to capture the best shots when activity is slow as is now. Water level in south Florida is high, as others mentioned in previous comments, making wildlife less visible while they migrate to inland dryer and higher areas. You are always going to see some wildlife but not like we used to during this season. If you really want to take advantage of time and visit a place were they are having probably the best bird activity, get in a car and drive to Sanibel Island and visit Ding Darling which is an excellent spot for bird photography. If you don't feel like driving for an hour, you could visit Tiger Tail beach in Marco Island, only minutes away from your area, also Vince's advise of Turner River Road is a good one. If you like to visit Everglades National Park in Florida City, the area is beginning to show some improvement but you need to drive around the park to chase your shots. Flamingo the south end of the park, has Ospreys, Red Shoulders, Broadwings, King Fishers, Kestrels, Northern Harriers, Cattles Egrets, White Egrets & Pelicans as permanent residents for now. We also spotted a couple of Roseate Spoonbills at Mrazek pond this past Sunday.

Hope this helps

regards JV

wildnaturegallery.com

http://www.pbase.com/quo0131/everglades_wildlife

Angus Watkins , Oct 30, 2008; 02:06 p.m.

Hey, Johnny, excellent thoughts from a veteran everglades and SW Florida birdshooter, including good alternative sites to scout! Love your work and wd sure be interested in talking with you more in person when we're there. .

Johnny Villaronga , Oct 30, 2008; 02:48 p.m.

Send me an e-mail to johnny@wildnaturegallery.com and I'll send you my #

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