Florida alligator photo.jpg
Alligators lounge in the sun while herons, egrets, and storks work hard building their nests in the trees above.

I was born and raised in Florida and I've seen a few "tourist attractions." Let me just say that I've never been a fan of Disney World. But some attractions are worthwhile. The alligator farm and zoological park on Saint Augustine Beach is quite interesting. Yes, the alligators are fun to watch for a few minutes, but the real show is the bird rookery. Surrounding the natural water habitat of the alligators are lots of trees and bushes, which are filled with nesting waterbirds beginning in March. The real action happens when the baby birds start to hatch in late April and May.

Above is a video I took of the birds during their courtship phase. Note the elaborate plumage that the birds show off to attract a mate. Not too many years ago these birds were shot by the thousands by plume hunters. Their breeding plumage brought a high price for decorating ladies' hats. Photographers with their long lenses come here to get some really, really close-up photos of the nesting birds. You will see snowy egrets, American egrets, tri-colored herons, white ibises, wood storks and others. It's about $20 to enter the park--a bit pricey, but par for the course. Plus there is an exotic bird show, a pretty interesting talk about alligators with the speaker standing in the middle of a pit with hundreds of gators, many over 10 feet long. Scary.

Saint Augustine, Florida Alligator Farm
Above: the boardwalk through the alligator habitat and bird rookery. The white
things in the trees are nesting birds.

heron building its nest in St. Augustine, FL
Above: a tri-colored heron fidgets with the twigs in its nest. Not an exciting job.

Florida alligator swimming.jpg
 

Above: an 8 foot alligator sluggishly swims around in the shallow water.

Alligators sunning themselves in Florida.jpg
 

Above: can life get any easier than this? Free food and free rent.

Crocodile with jaws open.jpg

Above: a crocodile sunning itself on a warm March day in St. Augustine, FL.

 

Photos and text copyrighted 2007 David McRee, BeachHunter.net