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"I have found out there ain't no surer way to find out whether you like people or hate them than to travel with them." Mark Twain

Monday, September 3, 2012

Flamingo Gardens Wildlife Sanctuary

I've always been fascinated by pink flamingos and getting close enough to photograph them has been a lifelong goal for me--which is why I was thrilled to discover Flamingo Gardens in Davie, Florida (about 25 minutes from downtown Fort Lauderdale, an easy drive). The gardens feature more than 3,000 tropical and sub-tropical plant and tree species in a very pretty and nicely maintained 60-acre setting. Among the amazing finds here are 21 of the largest trees of their species in Florida, as well as a stand of 200-year-old live oak trees. The garden also features the largest tree in Florida--a non-native cluster fig with a height of 102 feet and a circumference of more than 54 feet. This is one big tree! It's wonderful to see so many great trees and plants preserved at this garden. In season there is also a great butterfly garden.

Another fun part of this park is the Everglades Wildlife Sanctuary at Flamingo Gardens--it was one of the first of its kind in the country and provides a safe haven to permanently injured or non-releasable Florida native wildlife.  The sanctuary includes the largest collection of Florida native wildlife in the State and includes more than 80 species-among them: alligators, bobcats, panthers, otters, eagles and, of course, flamingos. A great place for kids to see Florida wildlife up close. Coming soon are new bear and otter habitats. I can't wait to return.

My favorite part of the gardens, however, is Flamingo Pond, a terrific and very native looking area with a large flock of Caribbean flamingos (as well as other birds, including beautiful white ibis). I was able to fulfill my fantasy of getting great close-up shots of the flamingos (using a 70-300mm Nikkor zoom on a Nikon D90 body) at the pond. In fact, I spent several hours just photographing the flamingos--heaven for me. The flamingos are very active a lot of the time and the go through a very strange ritual where they will all be gathered on a small island and then--at the urging so some (for me, at least) unseen inner signal--they start to move around the pond in a kind of tribal flamingo dance! The kids will love it. Photographically speaking, flamingos preen and nap a lot, so there are always good photo opportunities.

If you're going to Florida this season, Flamingo Gardens is well worth a visit and you could easily spend a day here (there's a nice cafe on the grounds) and it's open every day but Christmas and Thanksgiving and while there is an admission charge (there is a senior discount and kids three and under are free), parking is free. You'll find directions and hours here.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Jeff,

    Flamingos are cool. I haven't been to Florida since I started getting serious about photography, but I too would like to shoot some Flamingos. I will have to watch for the next time one of my neighbors gets flocked by the local Rotarians. :)

    In the meantime, I am looking forward to your new blog.