Florida Birds

East Coast

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The very best place to see and photograph birds and other wildlife during the frigid northern winter months is warm, sunny Florida. It’s at this time of year that the flow of people to the Sunshine State pales by comparison to the massive influx of birds that have flown south to escape the very same conditions. When these migrant flocks add to Florida’s already extensive resident bird populations, they put on a show found nowhere else. That is why Florida is considered a “must visit” winter location by birders and serious wildlife photographers from around the world.
In March, Florida’s nesting season is in full swing and the rookeries are abuzz with the sounds of chicks begging for their share of parental forage. At the same time, other birds are just starting their nesting season and can be seen and photographed as they carry large sticks back to their nest in preparation for their future family.
 
We get to see it all! Our Florida Birds—East Coast photo tour coincides with the heart of the annual nesting season. We visit three of Florida’s most active wading bird rookeries, each offering something completely different from the next. These rookeries allow us access—often, just by a few feet—to active nests where we are able to photograph habituated great egrets, cattle egrets, great blue herons, American wood storks, anhingas, double-crested cormorants, tricolored herons and little blue herons, among others, at very close range. Along with the nesting birds, the wetlands we visit are home to many other species, such as purple gallinules, limpkins, snail kites, snipes, white ibis, glossy ibis and black-bellied whistling ducks. By shifting our attention up into the trees and sky, we also find bald eagles, ospreys, great horned owls, red-shouldered hawks, northern harriers and crested caracaras. We visit a lake shoreline hot spot patrolled by snail kites and limpkins in search of the apple snails they rely on for food. The lake is also home to several active bald eagle nests and our tour is timed to coincide with the fledging of the eagle chicks. Besides the chance to photograph eagles perched in Spanish moss-draped oak trees at or near their nest, we also have the opportunity to capture eagles in flight, sometimes carrying fish back to the nest to feed their young.
 
Spoonbill roseatesWe are by no means landlocked during our tour. In order to get up close to the action, we photograph part of our time from very stable pontoon boats. We spend one morning and afternoon on one of the most active osprey nesting lakes in the world, allowing us plenty of opportunities to capture these fish-eating raptors carrying nest material and fish to feed their young. The next morning we board our boat on another lake that is home to a very active roseate spoonbill colony. Often mistaken for flamingos, the vibrant pink roseate spoonbill is a Florida icon and a “must have” species for any bird photographer.
 
There are plenty of opportunities for bird portraits. But what sets this tour apart is the opportunity for action photography. Besides flight shots, we see the birds doing all of their other behaviors, such as nest building, fishing/hunting, courting, and sometimes arguing and mating. Capturing an anhinga with a large fish impaled on its bill while it swims nearby is a great prize—and happens regularly at some of our prime locations.
 
While we primarily focus on bird photography, there are many other subjects to photograph at most of our locations, including alligators, turtles, snakes, frogs and raccoons, plus a variety of other wetland creatures. Occasionally, we may be visited by river otters or a curious bobcat.
 
Join us to photograph in the best of Florida’s bird shooting hot spots. Great wildlife and exciting habitats, combined with the wonderful climate in March, make this an enjoyable and productive nature photography experience and a great winter escape.  Here is, perhaps, the best possible Florida bird shoot—one you should absolutely not miss!
 
Why photograph with us in Florida?
 
  • LOCATION! LOCATION! LOCATION! Not all of Florida is created equal. We get you to the right locations at the right times to assure photographic success.
  • Small group size. By keeping our group size to 5 photographers, we are easily able to adapt to any changing situations to take full advantage of the best shooting opportunities.
  • Our tour leader is a south Florida native and life-long resident, and has been professionally photographing the birds and other wildlife of Florida for over 30 years. There is no substitute for this kind of experience.
  • Everything is included. All meals from our first evening welcome dinner in Orlando, all ground and boat transportation—no need for an expensive rental car or to contend with Florida traffic—entry fees, lodging and guide services.

Tour Itinerary

Day 1 (Mar 5, 2020)  
Arrive at Orlando International Airport. Take the free shuttle to our nearby hotel. We meet in the hotel lobby at 6 PM for a short orientation and our first tour dinner.  (D)
 
Day 2 
We are out before sunrise in our large air-conditioned van heading to one of the premier wading bird rookeries in central Florida. We shoot from boardwalks and trails, so bring your tripod for the best results. We have the entire day to refine our skills with nesting great egrets, cattle egrets, tricolored herons, and many more—often only a few feet from our lenses.  (BLD)
 
Day 3 
We reach our next destination just as the sun is rising. We shoot along the shore of one of the central Florida lakes that form the headwaters of the Kissimmee River. Today we concentrate on bald eagles, crested caracaras, limpkins, sandhill cranes, and many other species that call this lake home. There are three active bald eagle nests in the area and our trip is timed for the fledging of the young eagles. We often have the chance to capture flight shots of both adult and young birds as they fly out over the lake in search of fish. We can stay until sunset and, if the clouds are right, the sky over the lake can be magnificent. Later, we head for our hotel in Vero Beach and gather for dinner.  (BLD)
 
Day 4   
Until now, all of our shooting has been land based. That is about to change. We are on the road before sunrise for the 1-hour drive to a lake surrounded by moss-draped cypress trees. We board our private pontoon boat—built for stability and perfect for photography—and head out onto the lake. All photography while on the boat is either handheld or from monopods. If the morning is misty, we have great opportunities for interesting landscape images. As the sun rises above the horizon, our focus shifts. We are on one of the best lakes in the country for photographing nesting osprey. We spend the entire morning cruising from one nest to the next. We have the chance to photograph ospreys in flight, often carrying fish or nesting materials as they pass. We are back out on the lake in the early afternoon to take full advantage of the afternoon light as we revisit the best locations. By late afternoon we return to the dock and drive back to our hotel for dinner. (BLD)
 
Day 5 
We load our boat and head out into the morning light on another nearby lake to a roseate spoonbill colony. We have ample opportunities to photograph these pink beauties with their spatula-shaped bills carrying sticks back to their nests. This is one of Florida’s truly iconic birds. We may see them at other locations during our tour, but on this lake we have our best access. While spoonbills are our main subject here, there are often other species nesting in the same trees, including great and snowy egrets, great blue herons, and more. By late morning we return to the dock. We continue our trek southward stopping for lunch along the way. In the early afternoon we arrive at our hotel in Palm Beach County. If there is still daylight available after checking in, we may have time to visit our next shooting location for an hour or two. (BLD)
 
Day 6 
We are up early to visit one of the most productive bird rookeries in south Florida. Our shooting is from sturdy boardwalks and trails where we can use our tripods for best results. Here we find nesting American wood storks, great egrets, anhingas, double-crested cormorants, cattle egrets, great blue herons, and others. While you are busy shooting, your tour leader searches for the secretive least bittern. While not a guarantee, this is one of the easiest locations to photograph least bitterns as they climb through the bulrushes and spatterdock. Walking among the marsh plants we also find purple gallinules, common gallinules, green herons, tricolored herons, and more. Along the trail we may encounter river otters. We return in afternoon to shoot in the great evening light, then head back to our hotel and meet for dinner. (BLD)
 
Day 7  
Our final morning finds us on our familiar boardwalk at dawn. We have the entire morning to improve on our shoot from the day before or to capture subjects we missed. We break at lunchtime and then begin the return drive north to Orlando.  (BLD)
 
Day 8 (Mar 12)  
Depart Orlando for home. A free shuttle to the airport is available.  (B)
 
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Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Enrollment Information

Florida Birds

Mar 05, 2020 - Mar 12, 2020


1. REGISTRATION
A deposit and completed and signed Registration Form are required to reserve a place for you on a Joseph Van Os Photo Safari.

2. PAYMENTS, CANCELLATIONS AND REFUNDS

All prices are quoted in US dollars and all payments must be paid in US dollars. For deposit only, we accept Visa, MasterCard or American Express. Final payment of the trip fee is due 120 days priors to departure and must be paid by check or bank transfer. Trip deposits are non-refundable and non-transferable.

We must receive written notice of your cancellation, at which time cancellation fees in the following amounts apply:

If Written Cancellation is Received:
90 days or prior:
89 to 61 days prior:
60 or fewer days:
Cancellation Fee:
100% of deposit
50% of trip fee
100% of trip fee


No partial refunds are made for unused portions or services of a trip for any reason whatsoever. Trips are sold as a package only. This policy also applies to tour extensions and independent travel arrangements. Cancellation fees are not transferable.

3. TRIP INSURANCE
Protect your travel investment and purchase a trip insurance policy that includes emergency evacuation coverage. A trip insurance brochure will be sent with your enrollment confirmation.

4. HEALTH CONSIDERATIONS
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris are within the capabilities of average people in good health. Some of these trips require the capability of walking for several miles over uneven trails, stepping from a small boat to a wave-washed rocky beach, flying in small planes and helicopters, and occasionally hiking at high elevations—all while carrying an assortment of camera equipment. If you have concerns about your own capabilities and/or fitness as it relates to a trip, please inquire with our office before reserving a space. By forwarding a signed Registration Form and trip deposit, you certify that you do not knowingly have any physical or other conditions of disability that would create a risk for you or other trip participants and you agree to inform our office in writing if changes in your health occur any time prior to the tour. We reserve the right to request a doctor's statement of good health. The company's or trip leader's judgment shall provide the ultimate determination of an individual's ability to embark upon or to continue a trip. Once a trip has been confirmed, medical circumstances will not be considered as exceptions to our cancellation policy. We assume no responsibility for medical care or for special dietary requirements. “Meatless” meals are normally available at most locations. Due to the remote nature of many photo locations, and the growing diversity of today’s dietary trends, participants requiring special food items are encouraged to bring their own.

Tour members are asked to refrain from smoking with or near the group.

5. CONTACT SCHEDULE
Participants will receive three emails before the trip departs: 1. Initial Tour Information sheet confirms the deposit and provides pre-departure information. 2. Invoice/Practical Information provides clothing and photo gear recommendations, climate data, applicable health advisories and reading list. Visa information will also be included (if applicable). 3. Final Tour Information includes arrival instructions, itinerary revisions (if any), hotel addresses, trip telephone contact information and participant list. We provide the trip leader's telephone number(s) and/or e-mail address with final documents so you can inquire about special photographic questions you may have regarding your trip. We welcome your calls or e-mail messages to info@photosafaris.com.

6. PHOTO SAFARI COSTS
Information supplied upon enrollment describes the specific costs that are included in your trip fee. Generally these costs include lodging in double room occupancy, all meals (specified in the itinerary as BLD denoting breakfast, lunch or dinner), ground transportation during the trip in vans or small busses, air transportation as specified, meal and baggage tipping, and guide services provided by the trip leaders. Not included are airfare or other transportation from your home to the trip staging location, airport departure taxes, insurance, alcoholic beverages and bar expenses (plus bottled water and soft drink expenses on international tours outside of North America), tips and gratuities to local guides abroad, phone calls, passport or visa expenses, laundry or items of a personal nature. Gratuities to Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris trip leaders are optional and always appreciated. Rates are based on group tariffs; if the trip does not have sufficient registration, a small party supplement may be charged.

Single accommodations are available for a supplemental cost in many locations; see the pre-departure trip information or call our office for details. You will be charged the single supplement fee if you desire single accommodations or if you wish to have a roommate, but one is not available. In some remote locations, clients with single rooms are infrequently compelled to share a room due to circumstances beyond our control. In such cases, appropriate per diem refunds will be made reflecting the direct cost of the single room at the facility where clients are required to share. There is no additional single supplement fee on ship-based cruises, if you request a roommate and one is not available.

Cost increases may occur unexpectedly due to rising costs of airfares, ground transport, fuel surcharges, accommodations and currency fluctuations, among others. Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. may be compelled to amend prices, and we reserve the right to do so without prior notice. An increase in trip prices shall not be sufficient grounds for any refund of funds paid for the trip other than as determined by the terms of our cancellation policy.

7. LOGISTICS
Whenever possible, our trip participants are lodged in comfortable, modern hotels. We select among the best available accommodations, but refrain from extravagance. Some interesting photographic destinations are far removed from modern amenities, however, and where necessary we will be accommodated in rustic country inns, cabins or tented camps.

Meals are always a special part of our trips for the camaraderie they engender and the opportunity they provide to try new foods from different areas. Depending on the trip and specific locale, participants order restaurant meals from the full menu or, less frequently, table d'hôte. Some trips include picnic lunches in the field. Fruit juice for breakfast and coffee or tea are included with the meals. Soft drinks are included with meals on tours within North America. Participants are responsible for their own bar tab (including bottled water, soft drinks and alcoholic beverages on tours outside of North America) at restaurant lunches and dinners.

Our itineraries are intended as examples only. Participants should allow for flexibility due to changes in weather, natural history or cultural events, or other logistical arrangements deemed necessary by Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. or our leaders.

The second tour leader (and any subsequent additional leaders) listed for each trip on the website will be added as the group size warrants. If only one space remains on a trip, and logistics permit, we accept two persons traveling together, even if it exceeds the trip maximum.

8. RESPONSIBILITY
Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. and/or their Agents act only as agents for the passenger in regard to travel including, but not limited to, sightseeing, meals, lodging, transportation, and all other services whether by railroad, motorcar, motor coach, boat, ship or aircraft and they assume no liability for injury, damage, loss, accident, delay or irregularity which may be occasioned either by reason of defect in any vehicle or for any reason whatsoever, or through the acts or default of any company or person engaged in conveying the passenger or in carrying out the arrangements of the trip.

They can accept no responsibility for losses or additional expenses due to delay or changes in air or other services, sickness, weather, strike, war, volcanic eruption, terrorist acts, political unrest, quarantine or other causes. All such losses or expenses will have to be borne by the passenger, as trip fees provide for arrangements only for the times and locations stated. Baggage is at the owner's risk entirely.

The right is reserved to 1) substitute hotels of similar category for those indicated and to make any changes in the itinerary or transport where deemed necessary, or caused by changes in air schedules or equipment substitution; 2) cancel any trip prior to departure, in which case full refund of the paid trip funds will be given, but Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc. is not responsible for any other trip preparation expenses such as penalized or non-refundable air tickets, visa fees and medical related expenses; 3) substitute trip leader(s) for the leader(s) originally specified, in which case the substitution is not a basis for participant cancellation or refund other than provided by our normal cancellation policy; or 4) accept or retain any person as a member of any trip.

Trip prices are based on tariffs and exchange rates in effect at the time of publication and are subject to adjustment in the event of any change therein.

A Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section must be signed by each participant prior to the commencement of the trip. Participation by any trip member will be declined in the absence of the signed Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section, with no trip fee refund. No modification to the Registration Form including the Release and Assumption of Risk section will be accepted.

Should Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc., or anyone acting on their behalf be required to incur attorney's fees and costs to enforce this agreement, the enrolling trip participant(s) agree(s) to indemnify and hold them harmless for all such fees and costs. In the event a lawsuit is filed, the enrolling participant(s) agree(s) to do so solely in the County of Lewis in the State of Washington. Certain ship owners require the use of pre-printed ticket forms that limit the ship owner's and operator's liability. When such tickets are used, the passenger is bound by the terms of these tickets with respect to the passenger's legal relationship to the owners and operators of the ship, their agents (Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris, Inc.), and the ship's crew.

Highlights
  • Photograph the world’s highest density of nesting ospreys by boat—in flight, carrying fish and at the nest
  • Shoot one of Florida’s newest American woodstork nest colonies with their chicks up close
  • Early morning photography at an active roseate spoonbill colony by boat as early chicks begin to hatch
  • Small group size—only 5 photographers
  • Trip features a wide variety of iconic “everglades” birds that now make Florida’s east coast their home
  • Lead by a life-long Florida resident and nature photographer
 
Mar 05 - Mar 12, 2020
Fee: $4,495 from Orlando, Florida
Deposit: $500
Limit: 5
 
Tour Leaders