POSTCARDS FROM FLORIDA

St. Augustine hosts 10th Annual Florida Birding and Photo Fest

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St. Augustine's Bridge of Lions

St. Augustine's Bridge of Lions will be the backdrop for photo sessions at Florida's Birding and Photo Fest. (FILE PHOTO / May 7, 2000)

Whether it's mastering the art of capturing "tiny landscapes" or learning the difference between warblers and shorebirds, there's something for photographers and bird-watchers at the 2012 edition of Florida's Birding & Photo Fest this week in St. Augustine.

The 10th annual event, which runs Wednesday-Saturday, features more than 100 birding and outdoor photography events, ranging from hikes to kayak tours and demonstrations by experts.

Based at the Whitney Laboratory for Marine Bioscience on the Intracoastal Waterway south of St. Augustine, the festival is one of the most celebrated of its kind in the nation. Participants come from around the world to sharpen photographic skills and observe the diversity of bird species in Northeast Florida.

Workshops will be offered by world-class outdoor photographers such as George Lepp, a nature photographer and innovator in digital imaging. There also will be tips from Mike Moats, an award-winning nature photographer who specializes in macro photography that he likes to call "tiny landscapes." Night photography sessions at the Bridge of Lions will be available.

Along with the photography, there will be birding events and tours, including kayak trips led by Ripple Effect Eco Tours and boat tours led by St. Augustine Eco Tours. There also will be excursions conducted by professional birding guides from Tropical Birding Tours.

A new wrinkle at this year's event is a chance to visit the Jacksonville Zoo, where birders can see wood storks, anhingas, painted buntings, yellow-crowned and black-crowned night herons, bald eagles, purple gallinules and 180 other wild species in the 92-acre park.

Even if you're not wild about birds, the Jacksonville Zoo is one of Florida's road-trip-worthy attractions. It's home to a walking safari that allows guests to come face-to-face with more than 1,800 wild animals of South America, Africa, Australia, Asia and the wilderness of the Sunshine State.

Visit jaxzoo.org for more zoo information.

For details on festival events, go to floridasbirdingandphotofest.com. Session costs start at $15. The website offers lodging options in St. Augustine, including resorts with festival rates.
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