Where to stay and visit in Florida for bird photography

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,454
2,609
I suddenly have the urge to go to Florida in January and use up some airmiles from BA. Please let me know where would be a good base and where we should visit for bird and nature photography. We'll of course rent a car.

Alan
 

YuengLinger

EOR R
Dec 20, 2012
2,432
486
Southeastern USA
Saint Augustine Beach is great. It might be a little early for fledglings in the Alligator Farm preserve, but still the area is home to many birds in late winter and early spring. Any of the corporate chain hotels along A1A just south of Anastasia State Park are fine. It's a good place to start and then work your way inland to many preserves, and keep going southwest until you get to Fort De Soto for Gulf Coast shore birds too. (Just watch out for Art Morris down there!)
 

privatebydesign

Would you take advice from a cartoons stuffed toy?
Jan 29, 2011
7,722
813
119
YuengLinger said:
Saint Augustine Beach is great. It might be a little early for fledglings in the Alligator Farm preserve, but still the area is home to many birds in late winter and early spring. Any of the corporate chain hotels along A1A just south of Anastasia State Park are fine. It's a good place to start and then work your way inland to many preserves, and keep going southwest until you get to Fort De Soto for Gulf Coast shore birds too. (Just watch out for Art Morris down there!)
Gatorland doesn't do the early opening and dusk photographer tickets until February.
 

AlanF

Canon 5DSR II
Aug 16, 2012
5,454
2,609
Thanks. I’ve booked up the last remaining seats to Orlando for January on a 24h hold and would welcome any further advice.
 

YuengLinger

EOR R
Dec 20, 2012
2,432
486
Southeastern USA
privatebydesign said:
YuengLinger said:
Saint Augustine Beach is great. It might be a little early for fledglings in the Alligator Farm preserve, but still the area is home to many birds in late winter and early spring. Any of the corporate chain hotels along A1A just south of Anastasia State Park are fine. It's a good place to start and then work your way inland to many preserves, and keep going southwest until you get to Fort De Soto for Gulf Coast shore birds too. (Just watch out for Art Morris down there!)
Gatorland doesn't do the early opening and dusk photographer tickets until February.
Good point about the Alligator Farm. And here's their rookery schedule. (Yep, January is too early.)

https://www.alligatorfarm.com/wading-bird/
 

BeenThere

EOS 6D MK II
Sep 4, 2012
837
165
In January, Sanibel, Cape Canaveral, Corkscrew are good locations. Go to the sanctuaries first.
 

docsmith

EOS 6D MK II
Sep 17, 2010
854
235
Alan

If you haven’t been yet, it is amazing.

I have had very good luck following this list. Also read the comments for some additional suggestions.
https://photographylife.com/florida-birding-near-orlando

A few other thoughts:
  • I have heard from locals and my own experience is that, for whatever reason, weather tends to be a bit better in early February. Late January is really hit or miss. Early February is mostly “hit.” Of course, there is no predicting the weather.
  • If you can, get a "Sun Pass" for your car or carry a lot of quarters/dollar bills with you. Tolls are everywhere in central Florida. The Sun Pass will let you drive around and pay via credit card.
  • I do not mean to state the obvious if you already know, but check distances. Florida is a big state. For example, I totally agree about the JN Darling NWR, but Sanibel is its own worthy destination. It is 4-5 hrs from Orlando, depending on traffic.
  • If you do go to Sanibel, great food, great beaches, amazing shells, and I'd see if you can find a deal on the "South Sea Plantations." Often expensive, but I've found good deals there before.

As for birding around Orlando, the list hasn't let me down yet, but I would say my favorites are Gatorland, Black Point drive on Merritt Island NWR, Orlando Wetlands Park, and Circle B-Bar Reserve.

Enjoy!