April 2011 Breeding Colors

Though I began photo-birding in November 2009 with a “point-and-shoot” camera, it wasn’t until this year (2011) that I got serious about my photography and purchased my first DSLR camera (Canon 7D) with an intermediate (400mm) lens. The pictures you see were made with this equipment, and I have been satisfied with the results, though there is always room for improvement.

St Augustine Alligator Farm

Florida has several rookeries throughout the State that provide close-up viewing of birds for photography. You can see the birds at this time of year in their breeding colors, performing their mating rituals, and eventually feeding their babies in the nests. Here is a Tricolored Heron in breeding colors.

Tricolored Heron

The beautiful plumes of the Snowy Egret were in great demand as decorations for women’s hats until it became illegal at the end of the 19th century.

Snowy Egret

I don’t use pictures from rookeries (or zoos) for my “life list” count as they don’t strike me as being “birds in the wild”, even though the birds are free to come and go as they please. But I do count “backyard” birds, including ones attracted by a bird feeder.  In either case most of these birds are fairly common and readily observable in the “wild”.

Huguenot Memorial Park (Jacksonville)

This park, located along the shore just north of the St Johns river, attracts an abundance of water birds and a good number of land birds as well.  The Black-bellied Plover, a long distance migratory bird, winters here.  It  is most often seen in its brownish gray back/white belly winter plumage. However, the transition to a full “black-belly” color can sometimes be seen in the spring in some late migrants, before they head for the Arctic tundra to nest for the summer.

Black-Bellied Plover

Year round, the Osprey, a large raptor, can be seen throughout the park, circling in the air, diving for fish, carrying off a catch, or eating its meal on a nearby perch.  It is also known as the sea hawk, fish hawk, or sea eagle.


The Laughing Gull is a year round resident that breeds in the Park along with Royal Terns.  I took this picture with my point-and-shoot camera (Canon Power Shot SX30 IS).  These less expensive cameras often get good results and are a great place to start with wildlife photography.

Laughing Gull

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This blog is for bird lovers, nature enthusiasts and anybody interested in outdoor photography.  Please feel free to send questions, comments, and suggestions by using the “Leave a Reply” box at the end of each post.  Corrections and additional information, especially from more knowledgeable birders, will be appreciated.  I’m still learning.

Thank you,

Phil Graham–Photo Naturalist

NEXT POST   May 2011 – Backyard, Huguenot and Hanna Parks: Chickadee, Falcon, Ducklings and more!

“In every walk with Nature, one receives far more than one seeks” — John Muir