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Birding in Georgia and Florida - April 15-24, 2017

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I just returned from a grand 10-day trip to Georgia and Florida with two fantastic friends and superb fellow photographers, Larry Jordan and Phil Perry. Now to download several memory cards from some five cameras used (Nikons for all but one: D500, D7100, D800e, AW110, and iPhone 7 Plus), select some keepers, edit those, and post a handful.

We shot in the following venues:

Harris Neck National Wildlife Refuge (NWR), Georgia
St. Augustine Beach, Florida
Alligator Farm, St. Augustine
Circle B Bar Reserve
Viera Wetlands
Gatorland, Orlando
Orlando Wetlands

With the exception of some landscapes shot mostly at sunrise at St. Augustine Beach and in the Orlando Wetlands, and a few images captured in various other settings, most of our targeted images on this trip were of birds. The venues of Alligator Farm and Gatorland both have substantial bird rookeries, which provided some close up shots of great egrets, snowy egrets, cattle egrets, rosette spoonbills, great blue herons, little blue herons, tri-colored herons, green herons, wood storks, and more. Some of the chicks were so ugly they were beautiful!

At the Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida, we ran into Lynn Hackett, with whom we had previously shot at St. Marks NWR, in the panhandle of Florida and last year at Campos Viejos, a ranch in south Texas.

Other sites included opportunities to shoot gators in abundance - as in, there are an estimated 1,700 gators in the 1,500+ acres at Orlando Wetlands. Also seen were wild boar and an eastern ribbon snake (Circle B Bar), raccoons (Orlando Wetlands), and numerous other bird species among the various places we visited: glossy ibis; white ibis, purple gallinule, common moorhen, American coot; limpkin; least bittern; anhinga (aka "snake bird"); bald eagle; osprey; barred owl; black vulture; black-bellied whistling duck; black-crowned night heron; boat-tailed grackle; common gallinule; morning dove; northern cardinal; red-shouldered hawk; sandhill crane; turkey vulture; and I am sure a few others that do not readily come to mind.

As with all birding, some lent themselves to capturing some good to great images, while others such as the least bittern proved elusive to obtain a credible image. Include an otter seen in Viera Wetlands in this category. A few of the different species made it into the "proof of life" category - images captured, but nothing to write home about, as in the hind end of a baby raccoon.

All in all, it was a wonderful trip, this one planned to a tee by Larry Jordan. The verdict is in: There is, indeed, life in retirement!

P.S. The restaurants in Georgia and Florida that we visited were outstanding! Fortunately, we hiked considerably, as in 6.4 miles one day in Circle B Bar.