Gatorland: Rocking Now and Getting Better Each Day! « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Gatorland: Rocking Now and Getting Better Each Day!

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This copulating pair of Great Egrets was photographed with the Canon 70-200mm f/4 L IS lens with the 1.4X II TC (handheld at 113mm) and the EOS-1D MIV. ISO 1600. Evaluative metering +2 stops: 1/100 sec. at f/5.6 On-camera fill flash at -2 stops. I was a bit surprised to get all sharp images at such a slow shutter speed. With some ugly buildingin the BKGR, my first instinct was to get down on one knee and work with a sky background while at the same time I instinctively raised the ISO. As always, click on the image to see a larger sharper version.

BPN Out of the Box Moderator Denise Ippolito and I visited Gatorland yesterday. Things were spectacular. Robert Amoruso was finishing up a three day workshop; it was great seeing him there. There were dozens of Great Egrets in spectacular breeding plumage, probably well more than 100 Great Egret nests (and possibly twice that many),  lot of Wood Storks, and a few red-lored Snowy Egrets. The number of birds was much astounding. And there was a very tame adult Black-crowned Night-Heron that posed for head portraits. I was puzzled as to why there were so many wading birds including killer breeding Great Egrets, Wood Storks, a Great Blue Heron or two, and Snowy Egrets in the water on the afternoon-light side of the boardwalk. It didn’t used to be that way… When I inquired, I learned that there is a new program where the visitors are encouraged to feed hot dogs to the gators. The profusion of food in the water attracts lots of small fish and lots of hungry herons and egrets. The Wood Storks preferred the small fish to the frankfurters 🙂
The crazy thing is that the rookery will be getting better and better every day with the arrival of the smaller species: Tricolored Heron and Cattle and Snowy Egret. Each exhibits spectacular soft parts color at the height of breeding plumage, the colors intensified by increased hormonal levels. And for those who can stand the heat of a Florida summer, there will be tons of chick to photograph though the month of July.

Mike Godwin was a most gracious host and he kindly reminded me that I was the one who–years ago–encouraged him to create an early entry/late-stay program for photographers 🙂

You can learn more about the Gatorland Rookery (in Kissimmee, FL) and their photographer’s program here:

To see “Gatorland Perfection,” my very favorite image from yesterdays Gatorland visit, check out my BPN Post here:

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