I spent February 11-18 in the Fort Myers, Florida region co-leading a sold-out bird photography workshop with Artie Morris from Birds As Art. It was my first trip to Florida in three years and all I can say is wow! It won’t be three years before I return.
The weather was PERFECT – it was 75-80 degrees and sunny most days with a light marine layer in the mornings. This provided wonderful shooting opportunities and we were doubly blessed with lots and lots and lots of birds. The locals were friendly and the food was amazing.
Our workshop attendees were all very nice people too and several were extremely good photographers. We even had some TWIPPERS on the trip. We spent our mornings getting up before sunrise so we could be in position to do some flash-blurs in the pre-dawn hours.
We’d stop at the local McDonalds for a morning snack. After 10 minutes, Artie would make sure we were en route to the day’s location. He’s a master of knowing where the birds will be, when they will be there and what they’ll be doing when we get there. His predictions that we’d be able to get good flash blurs at the Venice Rookery were right on. I got a few I liked. As soon as the sun came up we started working silhouettes against the colorful sky. After full light, we concentrated on flight shots.
After our morning photo sessions we’d go to a local eatery for more photo chat and simultaneous downloading. Then Artie’s famous INT (Instructor Nap Time) followed by an hour break and then we’d be in the classroom teaching post processing.
One day we stayed out all day and went to Placeda after photographing at the rookery. We got fantastic flight shots of Brown Pelicans.
We also spent a fair amount of time on Fort Myers Beach at Estero Lagoon. What a fantastic place. First of all, it was just great being on the ocean – but you’d think I spend every day like that because I hardly noticed. I was too busy photographing the birds. Estero was what we used to call back in the day a “target rich environment.” There were birds everywhere.
I also went out shooting with James Shadle, Florida Master Naturalist and super photographer. We went out on his boat and got some stupendous shots of Spoonbills as well as many other species that inhabit the Florida swamps and lagoons.
Here’s a somewhat complete list of the birds I photographed – although I haven’t quite finished looking at my images and there might be a few species eventually added to the list.
NOTE: A + sign means a new species for me
Reddish Egret Dark Morph
Reddish Egret White Morph+
Great Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron
Little Blue Heron White Morph+
Great White Heron+
Black Crested Night Heron
Red Winged Blackbird
The Florida trip was so much fun and such a success that I am going to “winter” there next year. I’ll be leading several workshops in both eastern and southwestern Florida next year so stay tuned if you want to go have the time of your life.
Oh yeah – hope you liked the slideshow.