Orlando, Florida – Gatorland

Gatorland

NIKON D300, Nikon 18-200 VR

I was in Orlando this past week and had a chance to visit Gatorland for the first time.  I must admit – it was great!  Maybe it was the time of the year (Mid April)…but I spent about 3 hours there.   I wasnt sure what to expect.  It was $22.00 for adult admission.  You get a map and walk all over the park at your own pace.  Of course the main attraction is alligators….and you get to see alot of them!  There are some big ones at Gatorland.  One special one is 13 1/2 feet long!    You can get pretty close to them…just over a walkway fence. 

Beyond gators, they have turkeys, deer, emus, a bird rookery, flamingos, tortoises (that you can feed), lizards, snakes, and a swamp walk.  One main attraction is 4 albino alligators.  Kinda cool!  They do a gator show where the alligators jump out of the water for chicken.  A gator wrestlin show and swamp tours.  Seems to be great for kids.  They have a small water play area for when it gets too hot and another great thing is you can take a picture with a real baby alligator!  He looked to be about 2 feet long – dont worry they tape his mouth shut tight for safety. 

I walked for about an hour an enjoyed seeing people throwing the hot dogs you can buy to feed the gators.  I then took a walk to the back of the park and was amazed at the bird rookery.  At this time I wish I had a Nikon 70-200 VR lens with teleconverter!  I think March is mating season…then it seemed April is nesting time.  In the sanctuary they have Great Egrets, Cattle Egrets and Tricolored Herons.  Most of them we nesting in the bushes/trees near the lake full of gators.  Very special to see.  Down the walkway you are just a few feet from the beautiful birds.  Even with my 18-200 VR I got some great shots!  I’ll post some soon.   Many of the Mom’s are sitting on their nests and have 2-3 light blue eggs underneath.   I did also see 3 little babies that were chirpping for food!  

I got so taken by the birds, I forgot that just a few feet away were 8 foot gators below!   I met up with one pro photographer – of couse he had a Nikon D3x and the Nikon 200-400 lens on a monopod.   He told me this is one of the best bird spots in Florida.  He said one another spot was Ft. DeSoto in Tampa and a place in Vero Beach. 

I was fun “birding” for the afternoon!  I had never done such a photo shoot.  Very fun!   I would think going “birding”  in the summer may be different as the mating season is over?  I will have to go back and find out!  They have a cute gift shop on the way out.  I left and was very happy about visiting Gatorland.   I post a birding pic soon!  Gator-done!