Alligator FarmBeyond the Backyard

Roseate Spoonbills at the Alligator Farm

I was excited to visit the St. Augustine Alligator Farm in early May, knowing that at that time the Farm is buzzing with birds in breeding plumage and chicks of all sizes.  But they don’t open till 9am unless you have a photo pass!  The sun came out just as I got to the boardwalk, and the shadows were already very harsh on the birds.  Not to mention that the boardwalk was full of people, despite my timing my visit for an off-Friday that was supposed to avoid the weekend traffic.  So I headed for a nest in the shade, a nest that most people didn’t even seem to notice.  To me it was wonderful, because it held a hungry juvenile Roseate Spoonbill…

Roseate Spoonbill Nest
Roseate Spoonbill Nest

I was glad I had my flash with me.  I don’t often use it for birds, but I knew these birds are used to it with all the visitors they receive each year.  I was shooting into the sun, and I had to add some extra fill light.

This baby was hungry!  He sat there bobbing his head for at least half an hour, begging for his mom to regurgitate a nice fish.  His little spoon is developing on his beak.  Boy was he persistent!  He kept poking at his mom’s beak, trying to get her to open it.  She was so patient with him, re-arranging his nest and trying to catch a short nap, despite the urgings of her small offspring. :)

At one point I looked up and saw over twenty Spoonies flying overhead.  It was so cool!  The spoonbills have only begun nesting at the Farm in the past few years, and to see them in such good numbers was very nice.  The Spoonbills are one of my favorite birds.

Spoonies Overhead!
Spoonies Overhead!

I had a shot of a Roseate Spoonbill as he flew in and landed on a perch, but it was extremely backlit.  I took it into Photoshop and played with it with various plugins.  Look at those beautiful pink angel wings!

Angel Wings
Angel Wings

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