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April Weekend - St. Augustine Alligator Farm & Rookery

  • Alligator Farm & Zoological Park 999 Anastasia Boulevard St. Augustine, FL, 32080 United States (map)

The Alligator Farm’s Rookery
The Rookery is the place within Alligator Farm that birds congregate to build their nests.  Each spring, the Rookery attracts eight species of birds – great egrets, wood storks, snowy egrets, roseate spoonbills, tri-colored and little blue heron and cattle egrets.

Photography Schedule
In order to avoid the harsh sun, photographing at the rookery is usually split into 2 daily sessions.

Morning session - is from 8am until 11:00am.

Afternoon session - is from 4pm until the last photo pass holder leaves. (staff dependent)

Admission prices:

-9am regular admission: $25.99
-Photo pass  - this pass allows 8am entry for photographers through the special - Red Door
-Cost - $65 for 2 days.

You can purchase your Photo pass at the Red Door at 8am on April 7 OR you can email Molly Ebersold at and purchase it ahead of time. Depending on the number of people in our group, she will be able to give us a discount on the price of the photo pass.


There are numerous hotel options in St Augustine. Your accommodations are your choice. Our suggestion:

Sleep Inn  - within walking distance of Alligator Farm.
Address: 601 Anastasia Blvd. St Augustine 904-825-4535
Rates: $127 king and $133 for 2 queen beds. (subject to discount depending on the number of attendees).

Food and Drinks

Dinner – Saturday, April 7th arrangements made at the Gypsy Cab Restaurant- 828 Anastasia Blvd, St. Augustine, FL 32080. Nothing fancy, but close by and great menu. on getting a separate room where we can discuss our photographing experience at the rookery and share photography tips.  (Other ideas welcome).

Drink and Chips

Bring a bottle of wine and/or beer with chips for evening meet in hotel lobby. Did I forget to say that this trip is also about having A LOT of fun!!!!


Discussions being entertained for lunch at nearby Osteen’s Restaurant – local seafood/shrimp – 205 Anastasia Blvd. St Augustine.

For Those Arriving Friday

Some discussions going on about a sunset dinner at the Sunset Grill – 421 A1A Beach Blvd, St Augustine.

Suggested Equipment

• Camera
• External (shoe-mount) flash
• A Flash extender –  *see below
• Memory cards and batteries (camera & flash)
• Monopod/tripod
• Lens with enough focal length for shooting birds (100-200mm - sufficient for flight shots)
(Bring what you think you will need, however, the lighter you are, the more mobile you will be.)

*Flash Extender – I have a Nikon 910 flash. This is an example of an extender for this flash: (not saying it’s the best, just a sample).

Better Beamer Flash Extender.jpg

“Excellent for wildlife and birding photography, where long-distance fill-flash is often required, especially with a bright sunlight background. The use of fill flash opens up the shadows without the appearance that a flash was used.” B & H

Bird Locations

Bird Locations

• Larger birds (great egrets, wood storks) usually nest in the blue areas of the rookery; they are the first to construct nests at the beginning of the mating season.

• Smaller birds (cattle egrets, snowy egrets, tri-colored herons, little blue herons) usually nest in the red areas.

Other birds such as the roseate spoonbills like to hang out in the green area where the dead tree is.

Attractions at or near St. Augustine:
§  St. Augustine Castillo de San Marcos: Largest national Park in this area.
§  Augustine Pirate Museum: Fun for history lovers and kids
§  Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum: A living history museum recreating the life in St. Augustine in 1740. Costumed interpreters bring life to the St. Augustine that was an outpost of the Spanish Empire. The Colonial Spanish Quarter Museum is only a five-minute walk from the entrance of the Castillo.
§  Augustine Lighthouse and Museum: This 1874 lighthouse is the second highest lighthouse in Florida. The St. Augustine Lighthouse & Museum is located 1.5 miles south of the Castillo just off route A1A.
§  Fort Matanzas, 14 miles south, is a smaller Spanish fort built 50 years after the Castillo de San Marcos. It’s a great stop because you take a small boat to the fort past spectacular scenery. And it’s free.
§  Fort Moose Historic State Park:  The site of the first legally sanctioned free African settlement in United States. Fort Moose State Park is three miles north of the Castillo just off US-1.