Things Were Hopping At Venice Rookery

Great Blue Heron in flightGreat Blue Heron in flight

Fellow Canadian photographer and Nikon shooter, Tony Galic, and I loaded our camera gear into the Vue and hit the road this morning, on our way to Venice Rookery in Venice, FL. It's about a two hour drive over to Venice from Sebring. We left shortly after 5 am and were on site just after 7 am, and in time for the sunrise. Venice Rookery is a must see for all birders and wildlife enthusiasts. The rookery is located at 4002 S Tamiami Trail in Venice not far off Jacaranda Blvd, immediately behind the Florida State Highway Patrol office and the Audubon Society building. The rookery itself is essentially a large mangrove shrubbery on the edge of a pond. The mangrove is an island sitting perhaps 100-200 ft off shore. There is parking provided and a portapotti on site as well as a gazebo and picnic tables near the pond's edge. Venice Rookery is perhaps one of the most easily accessible wildlife viewing places as well. Simply drive in, park, walk your camera and tripod over to the edge of the pond and start shooting. There were literally hundreds of birds roosting in the shrubbery as we arrived and there's a resident alligator to keep pesky raccoons from raiding the nests for eggs. We were the first to arrive but were quickly joined by half a dozen other photographers almost immediately. Today was relatively tame, as far as photographers with no more than perhaps 12-15 people shooting at most times. On past visits, I've seen 30 or more photographers, pros and amateur alike, lined up with their tripods on the banks around the pond.

Double Crested CormorantDouble Crested Cormorant

Tony was anxious to try out his new 300 and 600 Nikon lens. We had spent a few hours yesterday afternoon micro adjusting the focus on all his lens, so he was good to go. I used my 600mm with either the 1.4x or 2x extender along with my 600 EX RT flash and better beamer. The early morning light was a little subdued so the flash and better beamer came in handy for adding a bit of extra light until the sun rose high enough to warm things up. We shot for about three hours in all. I stayed with my main tripod setup for most of the shoot but swtiched to a handheld 300mm with 1.4x extender for a few flight shots and for carrying while I walked around the pond looking for birds perched along the banks and down by the water's edge.

Calling Anhinga in flightCalling Anhinga in flight

There are more photos in my galleries which should be easily accessible by simply clicking on any of the photos in today's post. I'll also be posting more photos to facebook and my Flickr and Smugmug galleries in the coming days. My flickr galleries can be seen by clicking on the slideshow in the sidebar located in the right margin of this blog. Thanks for looking everyone! Comments are always welcome too.