We went on a short, yet productive photography vacation 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. There are also plenty of other good photo ops in the area including the Sarasota Bayfront Harbor, Marie Selby Botanical Gardens, and Sunsets on Siesta Beach. This blog will focus on photography in Myakka River State Park.
Myakka River State Park is 15 minutes from Sarasota. The park is 45 square miles. There are miles of hiking trails, a treetop canopy walk, river / lake boat rides, and a bird walk. The bird walk is a set back a bit from the river so a longer lens is helpful. However, there is plenty of wildlife and birds along the river.
I photographed Osprey, a flock of wild turkeys, black vultures, a Bald Eagle, and numerous shore birds at the bird walk. I got some good shots of the Ospreys soaring above and bathing in the river. I've never seen an Osprey bathing before but it was quite obvious that was what he was doing. I used a 500mm f4 lens at the bird walk and at times, I would have liked to have a little more length. However, if you are patient the Ospreys seemed willing to fly closer to the walkway. The bird walk is a better morning shoot as the birds flying over the river are backlit.
Of course, there is also opportunity to see and photograph gators. I also saw, but did not get an opportunity to photograph a wild boar. I saw him quickly crossing the road through my rear view mirror. Also, the sleepy rivers are perfect opportunities for landscape and HDR photographs. There are also several lengthy (27 miles) hiking trails in the park.
Myakka River State Park opens at 8:00 am in the morning. There is a $6 admission fee per vehicle. Camping facilities are also available within the park. On the weekends, the park seemed to begin getting crowded around 10:00 am. There is not much of a selection of restaurants near the park. So, plan to pack a lunch or to leave for a while and return. We made it a half day photo shoot and went to the Sarasota Bay Harbor in the afternoon.
The website for Myakka River State Park is http://www.myakkariver.org.
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