Birders take delight in the fact that the Sunshine State almost always provides optimal lighting opportunities for photographing Florida birds. As a premiere tourist and beach destination, it’s practically impossible for any visitor with a camera to not get the urge to snap a picture of at least one bird sharing the beach with them.
The Florida Ornithological Society documents a bit over five hundred resident and migratory bird species present in the state.
With that large number of species, there’s always going to be a birding opportunity, and for many birders an opportunity to add new species to their life lists.
Mockingbirds, the state bird of Florida, can be found in residential areas and most other parts of the state. Most visitor areas, especially in the state parks, provide pamphlets with lists of local birds, to help everyone with their bird identification skills. The Florida Audubon Society provides a checklist of state birds to get individuals started.
The categories for presenting member pictures and stories of Florida birds, are loosely organized to insure that all the backyard birds and most of the common wild birds are included. The specific topic button on the left leads to information suited to answering basic bird identification questions. Read on for a quick birding tip for tourists in the Tampa Bay area.
Birding Fort De Soto Park: Tampa Bay, Florida
Tucked away at the tip of a peninsula on the southern end of Tampa Bay, Fort De Soto Park offers locals and tourists one of the country’s premiere beach destinations.
Less well known it the fact that birding Fort De Soto Park ranks among the real treats of American birding opportunities. This relatively small, 1,136-acre park, hosts close to three hundred different year round and migratory bird species during the course of the year. Considering the fact that the total number of Florida bird species hovers in the upper four hundred range, a trip to Fort De Soto offers the birder close to sixty percent of the entire Florida birding experience in one package.
Water birds such as gulls, terns, herons, sandpipers and plovers share the water’s edge with park visitors. The picture shows a rather fluffy, and endangered, Piping Plover enjoying an early morning stroll. During the spring and fall migrations, warblers and native northern birds looking for a rest stop and food, hang out in the parks pines, palms and mangroves.
Plan to spend a long day at this former military fort, named for the Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto. Picnic tables and other conveniences are located throughout the park. The best birding starts at the first rays of sunlight in the morning.
Visitors should get a map upon arriving at the park entrance in order to become acclimated to the parks different areas.
Photographers might want to note that the early morning sun light shines gently on your back, and on the birds along the North Beach area. Park in the adjacent lot and plan for a long morning walk up and down the beach, and along a mangrove lagoon.
While many birds take a brief time out during the late morning and early afternoon, opportunities to engage in typical beach activities such as swimming, hiking, biking and kayaking abound. The historic fort is also open for exploration.
As the sun begins to settle in the late afternoon, the birds return to the water’s edge in greater numbers.