DISCOVER LOVERS KEY
Birds are a popular subject for photographers, professional and amateur alike. Lovers Key State Park offers many great locations for photographing a variety of birds because it encompasses three distinct habitats – coastal, estuary, and upland hammock. You will find herons, egrets, roseate spoonbills, eagles, osprey, terns, plovers and more.
Here are some tips to keep in mind if you head to the park with your camera: • Equipment: a camera with a fairly long lens, at least 300mm focal length. Bring a tripod or something to rest your camera on. A heavy lens coupled with fast shutter speeds to capture moving birds can be a tricky combination. • As with most nature photography, patience is key. If you are photographing on the beach, find a comfortable spot and wait for the birds to come to you. If you approach them, they will likely be scared off. • Shoot in the morning or afternoon when the sun is low for golden and softer light. At low tide you will find birds at the shoreline as they feed. At high tide you will find them roosting in the mangroves or other sheltered areas. Osprey are often seen high on a tree snag eating their catch.
• Ideally you want the sun either behind you or to the side of you. This will give you the most pleasing light on the subject. Also make a note of which direction the wind is coming from, as birds tend to take off and land into the wind.
• Please remember to treat the birds with care. Do not frighten them to try to get a shot of a bird in flight. Flushing flocks of birds on the beach causes them stress. Be mindful of any areas that are roped off during nesting season.
Lovers Key offers beginning birding programs and photography walks. Check the website www.friendsofloverskey or call 239-463-4588 for details.