Southwest Florida bird photography (page 6)
Venice Audubon Rookery

This is a small park with a pond located in the midst of a residential neighborhood east of the town of Venice. It is just west of the junction with South Tamiami trail and Jacaranda blvd. on a small side road called Annex road behind a Florida highway patrol building.  What makes this place special is a small island in the middle of the pond that provides a protected nesting location for egrets, herons, anhinga, double crested cormorants, and night herons. On this visit there were about 10 great blue heron nests and probably the same number of nests for anhingas, some with chicks, while others were either sitting on their eggs, or in the process of building a nest.  Given the pond is relatively small, use of a 500mm on a cropped body allows you to get fairly good close-ups. Photographing the chicks was more difficult due to the amount of brush surrounding many of the nesting locations.  Use of teleconverter is also helpful to get more detail of the chicks in their nests. 

We photographed this location in the morning starting at sunrise while the light was good, and had a fairly productive session as birds came and went to their roosts.  At first light, hundreds of birds that roost on the island at night also depart for the day.  It was quite a sight, but difficult to photograph due to the low level of light.  Use of tripod on a gimbaled head is the most practical setup for photographing birds with a big lens at this location.  After focusing on some close-ups, my attention toward trying to capture a pair building a nest together, or capturing a great blue heron or anhingha arriving back at the nest after some trip to get additional branches or perhaps food. Sometimes a lone heron will stretch their body out length-wise in vertical position as if they are stretching to the sky.  It was somewhat unusual for me as I have not witnessed this before.  Perhaps they are looking for their significant other or trying to signal their position so as to be more easily found on the return flight?

Tending young
Tending the young
Home landing
Returning to the roost
Anhinga in flight
Heron stretch
Heron landing
Heron landing
Building a nest
Building a nest

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