We just returned from a short, yet productive photography trip to Southwest Florida in early March, 2011. We used Siesta Key near Sarasota as our home base. We visited the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary near Naples, the Venice Rookery, and Myakka River State Park in Sarasota. Next trip we plan on staying a little further south as the trip to the Corkscrew Swamp Sanctuary was about two hours long. There is also plenty of other good photo ops in the area including the Sarasota Bayfront Harbor, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and Sunsets on Siesta Beach. In part on of this blog, I’ll cover the Venice Rookery. I’ll cover Myakka River and the Corkscrew Swamp in subsequent parts.
The Venice Rookery is an amazing place. It is a tiny island in a pond right off Route 41 (Tamiami Trail). On that small island there must have been 40 – 50 nesting Egrets, Great Blue Herons, Ibises, Anhinga, Cormorants, and Green Herons. This is a great place to photograph Great Blue Herons on the nest with their chicks. This is also a great place to capture birds in flight as the birds fly to the bank of the pond to break off twigs for their nests. The rookery is a better morning shoot with the birds lit from the back. They did cut down some of the brush around the edge of the pond, so be careful of your background on birds in flight photos.
My Canon 500mm f4 lens was perfect for the Venice Rookery, although good shots can still be taken with a 400mm or even a 300mm lens. In fact, several times the 500mm lens was too long for birds that landed next to me on the shore. A 500mm lens on a tripod and a 300mm lens on your hip would be a good choice.
The rookery is located on Annex Road off of Route 41. Traveling south on Route 41, turn right on Annex road. There is a Racetrac gas station across the street. The GPS coordinates are 27.0451,-82.4010. Paste these coordinates in Google Maps as they are formatted to get an idea of the location. There are no facilities at the Rookery. The nearest restrooms are at the Racetrac gas station. There is no fee for the Venice Rookery. A shelter with picnic tables is located close to the Rookery in case anyone needs a rest or relief from the sun.