Van Os Photo Safaris logo
Worldwide Photography Tours since 1980

Florida Birds
2022 Trip Report

It’s hard to believe my love of this place began with my first trip to Florida forty years ago. As a student nature photographer on an adventure to document rare and endangered wildlife, this was the trip that started me down the path in nature photography. It was also this same trip that solidified Florida, in my mind, as a must do place for much of North America’s best bird photography.

Fast forward to today and Joseph Van Os Photo Safaris Florida Birds photo tours. The adventure began with a wildlife drive that introduced us to the diversity of Florida birds and how to capture enduring images of these avian subjects. This drive gave us the opportunity to train our telephoto lenses on numerous species of ducks, herons, and egrets along with many other feathered friends as well as some of Florida’s ever-present alligators. With this many species at close range, it allowed for a quick shakedown, getting photographers of all levels familiar with their camera gear. It was also a great lesson in showing us how to anticipate bird behavior and use that behavior to add impact to our images.


This first day of the trip didn’t end here but continued with an afternoon trip to a popular boardwalk through a well-established bird rookery. The location was a beehive of egret and heron seasonal activity with many of the occupied nests placed at eye level and near the boardwalk. Thanks to the timing of our tours, not only could we photograph adult birds going through the season’s courtship displays and nest building, but also incubating their precious clutches. Thanks again to timing we were rewarded with the chance to photograph hatchling great egrets as well as parent birds performing the task of feeding their hungry chicks.

After our first jam-packed day and a solid introduction to photographing Florida birds under our wing, it was time to get into honing our technique for action photography by focusing on flying birds. For this we began with two of North America’s more charismatic and dynamic birds: bald eagles, and ospreys. With our photography locations picked well ahead of time for their proximity to active flight paths, we could easily place ourselves perfectly for photographing the coming and going of adult birds. This made it easy to anticipate their movements as they flew to and from prime fishing waters just offshore of our site, all while attempting to fulfill the needs of hungry chicks waiting back at the nest.


As always with a great photography tour, each day is designed to complement the last. Continuing our dive into Florida birds, our next bird photography destination could easily be called ospreys, ospreys, and more ospreys. A short thirty-minute drive from our lodging delivered us to a small cypress-lined lake where we would have both a morning and afternoon photo session. Here we boarded our roomy pontoon boat for a chance to slowly cruise in comfort while photographing ospreys and other resident birds that call this scenic lake home.

Ospreys really do abound here. Always keeping a respectful distance from nesting pairs, we were able to photograph ospreys perched and surveying their surroundings while comfortably snacking on a myriad of the lakes ichthyological residents. Not much down time between shots as it seems there were always one of these impressive birds sailing nearby or overhead, offering up many an opportunity to further capture crisp images of these raptors in flight. I often found myself calling out the locations of birds, either “perched” or “in flight,” somewhat like a spotter in the navy might call out the location of enemy planes as they approached.


I would be remiss if I didn’t mention our occasional sighting of a swallow-tailed kite, barred owl or peregrine falcon adding to the diversity of photography subjects at this picturesque location.

While in the area, why not add a little bright pink plumage to our pallet of bird images. An additional short morning boat ride to access a roseate spoonbill colony was in order. Our photo destination happens to be one of the best locales in North America to find and photograph roseate spoonbills—especially spoonbills in flight. The rookery was incredibly active this year with plenty of the coral-hued waders coming and going from the safety of their island nests. Between flights of spoonbills there were plenty of egrets, herons and anhingas to train our telephotos on.


Time goes fast on these action-packed trips. Our last wetland location would set the stage for a chance slow down and spend some time getting to know some of Florida’s most sought after and lesser-known avian residents—least bitterns, purple gallinules, American woodstorks and several species of nesting herons. With birds gliding by overhead and alligators cruising the shallows, subjects and compositions appeared in all directions. Here we spent our last day and a half photographing, often within arm’s reach, a plethora of wetland birds set amongst the activity of spring breeding and nesting behavior. With nearly a mile long boardwalk, each photographer could work at their own pace, choosing where to spend their time with each subject along the way.


What can I say about spending a month leading four bird photography tours in Florida? My career has taken me around the world photographing wildlife in many of Earth’s most notable natural areas. I can say, with even more confidence, that Florida remains a world-class destination to learn, practice and master your bird photography skills.

Upcoming Related Tours

Florida Birds

Florida’s East Coast has become a great new focal point for nature photographers from all over the world. Shoot several exciting wading bird colonies at close range including wood storks, spoonbills, herons and egrets plus the world’s highest density of nesting ospreys—by boat and on shore.

March 6 - 13, 2025
More Information

Now Booking for 2025!

Florida Birds

Florida’s East Coast has become a great new focal point for nature photographers from all over the world. Shoot several exciting wading bird colonies at close range including wood storks, spoonbills, herons and egrets plus the world’s highest density of nesting ospreys—by boat and on shore.

Multiple Departure Dates 2024
More Information