St Augustine Alligator Farm
An Excursion to the Rookery
St. Augustine Alligator Farm
Savannah, GA Photographer
My birthday was June 12 and as a birthday present to myself I took a trip to St. Augustine, FL to the St. Augustine Alligator Farm and Zoological Park. I was instantly catapulted into another world. There are so many different types of birds and I believe every different kind of alligator on the planet (if not every one, it's dern close). Have you ever been there?
My favorite part of the place is the rookery. These birds are wild and are free to come and go. There is not a single cage that encloses them into a confined space, yet, they remain; and return to nest. They are incredibly close to the boardwalk that winds its way through the rookery. You could have reached in to pet any of them (DON'T THOUGH, IT'S ILLEGAL). There had to be hundreds of birds from several different species, all nesting together.
There were a few Roseate Spoonbills, many Tri-Colored Herons, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Green Herons, Wood Storks and those are just the ones I remember seeing. I believe that each and every species had a nest with either eggs or fledglings in it. It was amazing to see; and hear. Hear! Oh the noise! It was incredibly loud and that's something to hear coming from a nearly deaf photographer.
They were perched on branches high and low. Some were flying in and out grabbing lunch for their young and yes, I got to see the babies being fed. There was a moat of water that ran under the boardwalk and there was at least 40, if not more, alligators that swam back and forth waiting for a human to drop some of the pellets from the "alligator candy vending machines" dotted along the boardwalk.
I don't believe it is possible to get tired of the view in the rookery because no matter times I went back to the beginning to walk it again, I always saw a new sight. A new bird. A new nest. A blue egg. It was constantly changing and evolving as each second passed by, with each screech of a bird fighting for it's space on a limb. I'm ready to return. Again.
There were many caged or habitat enclosures that contained many other kinds of birds from various countries that were incredibly interesting to watch. The above Hooded Vulture was quite interested in all the activities going on around its habitat. It sat there, just observing; waiting, for someone to drop something I think. It's amazing how much it looks like they are wearing eyeliner, ready to party it up.
Of course they have your usual exotics such as toucan, parrots, macaws and etc. But they also have lemurs, monkeys, turtles, komodo dragons and MORE!! I seriously spent the majority of my visit in the rookery because I was fascinated with seeing that part of the cycle of life. I will have to go back when it's MUCH cooler and spend more time in the other habitats. I think I, and my trip mates, were all on the edge of a heat stroke that day. If you ever get to to St. Augustine, this is a place that you MUST put on your to-do-list.
Georgia Walters is a photographer based in Savannah, GA. She specializes in pet portraits, family portraits, business head shots, fine art, and wildlife. Contact her today to schedule your portrait session or to order a fine art or wildlife print. Call now!