December 2022 & January 2023 Gulf Coast RV Trip

This winter, we decided to travel down to the gulf coast of the US from Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Florida and back to Texas.  The seven-week trip included the following cities: Spring-TX, Broussard-LA, New Orleans-LA, Biloxi-MS, Gulf Shores-AL, Pensacola-FL,  Chiefland-FL, Ruskin-FL, Tampa-FL, Bradenton-FL, Sarasota-FL, Winter Haven-FL, Citra-FL, Port St. Joe-FL and Destin-FL before heading home.

We were pleasantly surprised to see many bird species throughout this trip that added 4 new species to my life-list photographic collection. 

At peace in Port St. Joe, Florida sunset

Avery Island. Home of Tabasco sauce and beautiful gardens and sanctuary

Some of the other sights and attractions as we passed though on this wonderful trip, including many birds to photograph. Click photo to enlarge the gallery. 

Reconnecting with old friends

Planned into this trip was reconnected with an old work friend and college from the late 1970’s in South Africa after learning that they were here in the US. I had not seen Denzil & Jenny in almost 25 years, and it was great to catch up and have lunch together. Hopefully another visit won’t be that long again!

Denzil, Jenny, Ken & Gail

We would also reconnect with another great friend down in the Orlando area, once and fierce competitor on the racetrack, and of course, enjoy some incredible Latin food and a cold Pina Colada. 

Jesus (KIlo), Elena, Gail & Ken

Raptor photography boat tour

Matt, Matt Kloskowski Photography, made the recommendation when in Florida, to schedule a tour with DV Wildlife Photography. I did, planning this tour well in advance that is located near Citra, Florida and somewhat close to Gainsville. I met Dick Vantrionot early in the morning at his boat ramp and were on our way into the lake. It wasn’t long before we started our 4-hour tour of the lake. Dick’s knowledge of the lake, and most importantly, his unsurpassed knowledge of the Bald Eagles. We covered over 34 miles of up & down, back & forth, following the birds at speed to catch them either fishing on their own, or the spectacle of an adult stealing a fish from a juvenile eagle. This tour was absolutely fantastic. I would highly recommend anyone wanting to capture amazing photographs of these magnificent birds, in flight, that you contact Dick at DV Wildlife Photography and reserve your seat. You won’t be disappointed! He taught me some very valuable techniques and camera settings on how to shoot birds in flight. 

 

I was also very fortunate to join Dick and a few of his buddies photograph the rare Snail Kite. About the Snail Kite: The Florida population is endangered; disruption of water flow (with impact on habitat and snail populations) is the main cause. Recently an exotic species of apple snail, larger than the local native species, has become established in Florida. The impact of this exotic on the Snail Kites is still uncertain: it might harm the birds by outcompeting the native snail, or the kites may adapt to feeding mainly on the newly established species.

Below: The Snail Kite sequence at 10-frames/second, shot handheld with Z9 & 100-400 lens @ 140mm with 1.4x teleconverter.

We trust you have enjoyed seeing some of the magnificent places and things we covered on this trip.