We landed in South Florida in September 2020, the height of the COVID pandemic. In an effort to stay safe, we started exploring all that Florida has to do outdoors. As wildlife lovers, we had hoped to see some of those well known Florida alligators and we started visiting the parks and wildlife reserves near home. We couldn’t find many gators, but we did find birds, birds, birds and more birds. Bird watching in Florida is amazing and totally un expected pleasure. We are now officially Florida bird watchers. Who would have imagined that?
We never dreamed of living in Florida and bird watching in Florida was not even a blip on out radar. Florida was just a stop for us. We were supposed to be retired in France by now, but COVID squashed those plans. We had already sold everything we had and literally had 4 suitcases of clothing and a couple of carry-ons to our name. Having no place to call home, we decided to relocate to Florida near our son until this global pandemic was over and we could hopefully continue with our dreams of living in Europe.
Watching Birds In Florida
Have you ever seen a Rosetta Spoonbill?? We hadn’t either, never even heard of them until we settled in Florida. I had to see them in real life! Bird watching in Florida became our new favorite way to pass the time. I let my desire be known around social media and eventually a woman messaged me saying she had heard of a location. She wasn’t sure they were still there, but we decided to take a drive since it was only about 30 minutes from home. It was middle of December and we arrived by about 8:30 AM. I was so hopeful, but with wildlife, there is NEVER a guarantee of what you will or won’t see. Bird watching in Florida or anywhere in the world in never a given.
We approached the entrance of the wildlife sanctuary and from a distance I could see PINK! There they were pink Roseatta Spoonbills or spoonies as they are nicknamed by bird lovers. Right there at the entrance is a long boardwalk stretched across the marshy water below and there were no less than 30 spoonbills right there. 10 feet away!! Some were in the water feeding on the duck weed. Others were standing on the railing of the boardwalk and others were in various phases of flight, taking off and landing. I was giddy with excitement just trying to take it all in and photograph these fascinating birds all at once.
My excitement was so off the chart that I just started firing off my camera. Easily 100 shots of hot mess. Blurry, nothing but tail, feet, etc. Yes, it’s true, we all take some really bad shots and for me of all days, this was one of my worst. LOL. But honestly what if they all flew away and I never saw them again??
I pulled myself together and started paying attention to my photography which was dependent on the camera I was holding in my hand and keeping my head on straight. Bird watching in Florida was totally new to me and these spoonbills were my first chance. Any image would have been nice, but capturing them in flight would have been fabulous, also new to me.
Roseatte Spoonbills are the only truly pink birds. Their coloring is spectacular and they are quite large. The Audubon Society describes them this way. “Beautiful from a distance and bizarre when you see them up close”. 100% true. I think they look rather prehistoric. The flat spoon shaped bill is what makes them so unusual looking. The Roseatte Spoonbill became my favorite bird that day and a rather small obsession.
Other Florida Birds
Seeing the Roseatte Spoonbill that December day will not soon be forgotten, but as with wildlife, birds especially. We have never seen them again in that quantity. As we continued to look for them we discovered that Florida has a plethora of birds. It’s a bird watching paradise. We began going out 2-3 a week and walking for as much as 4 miles in search of birds. And we found so many. Great White Egrets, Little Blue Herons, and Wood Storks just to name a few.
We found a couple of really good, 5 STAR locations and while I won’t share their locations here, if you really enjoy bird watching in Florida, get on our email list and send be a message, I will tell you where we found all these birds.
We were able to watch the entire mating, nesting and raising their young season. We have 1000s of bird images, it’s nearly impossible to pick just a few for this post on Bird Watching in Florida. But I will share some of our favorites.
For more of out bird watching in Florida photography, please visit rebeccaherranen.com