Searching for the Florida bird trail

Sometimes, the best shots are just around the corner. This is one of those stories.

Last summer my wife and I got married in St-Petersburg, Florida. For us, coming from the cold Québec, it is quite a treat!

There was a number of reasons why we chose that location, one of them being that my parents in law (to be!) live in Safety Harbor, about one hour north of there.

We were staying in St-Pete’s Beach, about 15 minutes from Fort Desoto. This was one of the highly recommended locations from Jeff Donal the organizer of the Florida Center for Creative Photography. Jeff had graciously replied to a question I posted on the forum.

Before leaving my inlaws’ place to prepare for our wedding, I had packed all my “groom gears” for our wedding and all my “photo gears” for the outing I had planned a couple of days after the Big Event.

You have to know that I have been to Florida a number of times before and I took some good pictures of birds. I was excited at the prospect of going to Fort Desoto for some amazing shots and wanted new angles on things – not that I don’t like pelicans or that I can not find another composition approach for the same subject.

But, oh no, I had forgotten my birding lens, the Sigma 150-500 OS in Safety Harbor !!! As they say in French, my mother tongue, merde!

It is a good thing that I did not forget anything for my wedding however!

So, I had to postpone that plan and settle for more birds on the beach…

I did take some good ones after all, like these birds fighting or this one of pelicans where we feel that we are flying with them (although I do not like the Lightroom post-processing I applied).



My favorite one from this sessions is taken from a series of a blue heron fishing on the beach. Quite impressive to see it at work.


After our short honey moon of two nights in St-Pete, we returned to Safety Harbor for the rest of the week with one thought on my mind: I was so close to such an exiting place and I did not want to have regrets.

So, the day after, I drove from Safety Harbor to Fort Desoto… had to wake up early and drive 65 mins 😦

I did not want to do beach shots again, so I stayed closer to the marsh and got these two great pics of an american white ibis.



When pics are not that good, sometimes a special effect with Lightroom makes it fun. Like this pic of an ibis again taken across branches, somewhat out of focus.


Although one pic is enough to be happy of, I wished that I could have gotten more from there.

The next day, we went boating with some friends who had stayed for the week. I got some great pics of dolphins.


And while being on the non-bird subject, I like this skyline of the bay. In black and white it is so much more dramatic.


I did shoot some birds while on the boat. This great pic of a tern as it was approaching the boat in hope of some food being thrown to them.


But shooting birds in Florida is so easy and quite exotic for me. I wanted more.

First a little flash back in time.

In high school I read this book from the famous 18th century French author, Voltaire. Some of you might know the name. The book was titled Candide, which pretty much means the same in English, meaning somwhat “simple, naive”.

It is the story of this Candide character who travels the world in search of Idealism – with a capital “I”. The story ends with these famous last words: you have to attend to your own garden (“il faut cultiver son jardin”). I could interpret this as: the grass is never greener on the other side. You have to understand that this book was a criticism of French imperialism  while at home the country was falling apart.

I tell this story because maybe the best bird pics I took were right at home, by the pool nearby the bay separating Safety Harbor and Oldsmar, where my in laws live. 65 minutes north of Fort Desoto!

I like this white egret that flew away as I was approaching it. The original picture is blown out and we can not see the feather details. Thanks to the forgiveness and flexibility of RAW files.


One of my favorite ones is this wood stork in flight.


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6 Responses to Searching for the Florida bird trail

  1. Yes. Really good pics. Very good!

  2. obrienspix says:

    Wonderful shots….Love ’em.

  3. SkP says:

    amazing picture – the third one is especially exceptional

  4. maximegousse says:

    SkP, tks. I like it a lot (after I posted it here) but it is not perfect: the bird is dead centered and its wing is clipped. These were the compromises I had to do to capture it.

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