Bird Photography Hotspot: Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park « Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

Bird Photography Hotspot: Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park


Bird Photography Hotspot: Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park.

Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park

Simply put, Anhinga Trail is one of the top bird photography hotspots in the U.S. How good is it? In the original The Art of Bird Photography it was one of only ten listed North American hotspots.

Here, adapted from what I wrote, is a free and updated excerpt from ABP:

Anhinga Trail

Everglades National Park

There are several good bird photography spots in Everglades National Park. None however ranks with Anhinga Trail which consistently offers superb opportunities for visiting bird photographers. The livin’ is easy. The birds are close and they are tame. You can walk the entire trail in under 10 minutes. The straight, paved, main portion of the trail runs roughly east/west and abuts the famed Taylor Slough which lies just a few yards north of the trail. This layout allows photographers to utilize direct frontal lighting from dawn til dusk. When water levels are low as they usually are in mid-winter, there are large numbers of fish in the slough that attract hordes of hungry birds and more than a few American Alligators.

Photography is generally good from early winter to early spring. January, February, and March can be spectacular. Great Blue Herons and the gators spend most of each day hunting by standing perfectly still. Common Moorhens and Purple Gallinules for atop spatterdock or in the short grasses that border the slough. White Ibis, Snowy and Great Egrets, and Tricolored Heron forage along the water’s edge while Double-crested Cormorants dive for fish or sit placidly on the low wooden railings posing for photographers. Green Herons defending their breeding territories chase each other around like kids in a schoolyard. And American Bitterns are sometimes found posing like statues in the sawgrass.

Osprey and Belted Kingfisher hover above the two large pools and Turkey and Black Vultures often fill the skies along with Red-shouldered Hawks and very rarely, the rare Short-tailed Hawk. In March and April Swallow-tailed Kites may be found swooping down low over the trees in the parking lot to grab bit of hanging moss with which they line their nests. If you are lucky enough to have a south or east wind in the morning you might enjoy some great flight photography as both species of vultures land atop the visitor center, the light green metal roof reflecting light on their dark underwings.

Perhaps by now you are wondering, “Why the Anhinga Trail moniker?” Rest assured, the trail is aptly named: Anhingas pose on the low railings for cell phone toting tourists. They spear bluegills, small bass, and an unfortunate variety of introduced tropical fish. They raise their young in stick nests that in some years are located right next to the boardwalk.

Observers accustomed to to seeing this species in their drab non-breeding plumage will be dazzled by the soft parts color of Anhingas at the height of breeding plumage; both the males and females feature bright, Kelly green eye rings surrounded by turquoise facial skin. Courtship and nest building generally take place in in mid-winter and by February most females are either incubating their eggs or tending chicks. If you visit in March you will generally see nests full of the creamy yellow young of various sizes.

The birds at Anhinga Trail are so tame that you can create head portraits of many of the species mentioned above with a 70-200 lens and a teleconverter. Be sure to visit if you have the chance.

Anhinga Trail/Everglades National Park Mini-IPT: Feb 1-2, (SAT/SUN), 2014. (Limit 14/Openings 12): $799. Introductory slide program: 7pm: FRI Jan 31. (Limit 14/Openings: 12):

Join Denise Ippolito and Arthur Morris for four great photography sessions at one of the top bird photography hotspots in North America. Morning sessions: 6:15am to 10:30am. Afternoon sessions: 3:00pm till 5:45pm. Lunch included. Informal image review and Photoshop sessions after lunch.

What you will learn:

Autofocus basics and correct camera and gear set-up.
How to get the right exposure with digital every time.
How and why to expose to the right.
How to create pre-dawn silhouettes.
How to design pleasing images.
How to find the best perspective.
How to make strong images in cluttered situations.
How to photography birds in flight.
In-the-Field creative techniques.

Optional morning add-on session:

Jan 31 (Friday) Anhinga Trail/Everglades National Park Add-on/Morning Only (Limit 14/Openings 12): $249

Includes lunch, and informal image review and Photoshop session.

Do consider joining us for the all or part of the South Florida Composite IPT:

2014 South Florida Composite IPT: 6 1/2 days of photography spread over 9 days of learning, hanging out, and travel: $2644. (Limit 14/Openings: 12

Click here for complete details or to register. Please e-mail with any questions or leave a comment below.

Last Year’s Grand Prize winning image by Lou Coetzer


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7 comments to Bird Photography Hotspot: Anhinga Trail, Everglades National Park

  • Steve Rentmeesters

    “Why the Anhinga Tail moniker?” Spelling error, I don’t think Anhinga’s have tails. 🙂


    Artie: I’m new to your site and really appreciate all the information that you provide. Your Anhinga article is quite appropriate since it reached a high of 7 degrees here in central Oregon. My wife and I spent several weeks in the Everglades a few years, paddling our kayaks and taking pictures. The Anhinga trail was one of our favorite places.

    I recently returned from Africa while hauling around 30# plus of Canon camera gear, including a 24-105, 100-400, 70-200, 2 7D bodies, flash, tripod, etc. Do you have any experience with the new 4/3 cameras as far as shooting bird/ animals from distance?

    Keep up the great information sharing.

    Thanks again,

    Dave Drake
    Redmond, Oregon

    • Arthur Morris/BIRDS AS ART

      Thanks Dave and welcome. I have no experience with the 4/3 camera bodies. Stay warm. There is a nice and unexpected blizzard going in the northeast. It’s about 78 degrees outside my home here in central Florida, 🙂

  • Steve Wasson

    I joined Artie & Denise for this workshop last year. It was great! Thanks again to both of you…
    Denise, your old 500 f/4 says, “Hi”!

  • One of my favorite places in Florida to photograph, the birds are so close!