A noted photographic site, The Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida, is an intriguing zoological park with a natural rookery. The birds of the rookery are not caged or in an aviary. The wide variety of bird species that come every spring and nest in live oak trees, above a marsh that alligators patrol, are wild and free. Plentiful alligators, in the marshes below the trees, keep climbing predators away from the extensive rookery’s nests. A well-maintained boardwalk wends its way through the rookery to create a marvelous platform for eager nature photographers. It’s a natural wonderland.
When to visit
Visit the Alligator Farm from April through July to maximize photographic opportunities that capture nesting activities. But, birds start arriving in February, and many fledglings are on site into the end of summer.
The Alligator Farm is at 999 Anastasia Boulevard, St. Augustine, Florida, conveniently located about an hour south of Jacksonville International Airport. Specfic directions to The Alligator Farm are available online.
Adult admission is $22.95 with children at $11.95, but there are several, discount options. Discounts are given to guests in wheelchairs, AAA members, the military, and senior citizens. Also, there are group discounts, and St. Augustine Alligator Farm Zoo Members have free admission. To further facilitate the budget, a printable, discount coupon is available online.
Wildlife shows including Florida’s Forest Friends, Realm of the Alligator, Reptile Show, Rainforest Review, and Alligator Feeding. The shows are included with admission. Nature and history-oriented exhibits also are included with admission. Exhibits are diverse and include Albino Alligators, Birds of Africa, Fossil Exhibit, Komodo Dragon, Python Exhibit, and Exotic Birds and Mammals.
The wildlife shows and exhibits round out the facility’s extensive photographic experiences, especially during mid-day when light is not as excellent as early morning and late afternoon. However, as the opportunities for outstanding bird pictures are so rich, many photographers spend their entire visit in the active bird rookery.
Priced separately are tickets for The Alligator Farm’s newest attraction, a zip line experience with live alligators and crocodiles beneath your toes, birds and lemurs at eye level, and over 50 different obstacles. Crocodile Crossing tickets come in two courses, one shorter and another longer and more challenging.
Although the park officially closes at 5 pm, photographers can inquire about extended shooting time. Many of the official Alligator Farm employees voluntarily take turns staying longer, so photographers can get the chance to shoot through sunset. It is expected that photographers taking advantage of that volunteer opportunity give an appropriate tip to the volunteers, who have stayed beyond their contractual time.
Photographic highlights list
The list of The Alligator Farm’s photographic opportunities are as diverse as the life cycle of the many species nesting and feeding in the rookery area. What is extraordinary is the ease of access, the close proximity, the beautiful plumages, and the natural richness of subjects and behaviors.
- In season, birds in the rookery are in full breeding plumage.
- In season, rookery nests hold babies and fledglings.
- In season, birds exhibit courting behaviors.
- Alligators are plentiful and easily become photographic subjects.
- Bird species are diverse and include the Great Egret, Snowy Egrets, Cattle Egrets, Wood Storks, Roseate Spoonbills, Ibis, Great Blue Herons, Tricolor Herons, and both Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Herons.
A seasonal calendar of rookery activities is available online.
The slideshow accompanying this article’s photographic highlights list offers specific glimpses of the types of opportunities available to both amateur and professional photographers at The Alligator Farm in St. Augustine, Florida. The slideshow offers, in imagery, a perspective of the natural wonders waiting to be encountered.
Find the take in this article to be helpful? National and International Travel and Recreation as well as National Education and Industry materials come from a husband and wife creative team, who travel extensively as photonaturalists and writers. One is an experienced research scientist with a doctorate in Material Sciences and background in optics research. The other is former Vice President of GKE (Global Knowledge Exchange), who served as a US Web-based Education Commissioner during the Clinton administration, and was a former US National Tech&Learning Teacher of the Year.
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