January 13, 2016
Mahogany Hammock, Everglades
by Chris Nicholson
The Picture Perfect Place
Mahogany Hammock, Everglades National Park
What’s There To Photograph
Though the hammock (a dense stand of hardwoods in the otherwise marshlike environment of the Everglades) is beautiful as a “forest” subject, the primary attraction here is the barred owls. Go at the right time, and you’re almost guaranteed to find some to photograph. Other birds that frequent the spot (primarily in morning) are Cape Sable seaside sparrows (in spring), bald eagles and warblers. You can also do some nice work that includes the boardwalk winding through the trees.
When To Go
The best time of year to find owls is from mid-winter to early summer. The best time of day is usually late afternoon (preferably in overcast conditions, for better under-canopy photography) and during early blue hour, when the owls are more likely to be active and there’s still enough light to shoot.
Why I Love This Place
First, it offers a different photo opportunity than the rest of the Everglades, which is mostly about water, wading birds and alligators. Second, I love the idea of photographing owls, but am generally not patient enough to spend days “hunting” for wildlife. That’s not to imply that you can just walk into the hammock, point your camera in any direction and find an owl to photograph. But it’s nice to know where a concentrated population of an animal exists to improve the chances of finding a subject. Third, it’s beautiful and quiet—kind of an oasis of shade in otherwise exposed and primitive environment.
How To Get There
It’s not difficult to get to, nor hard to find; in fact, it’s on the official Everglades park map. From the main entrance station (near Homestead, Florida), drive about 19.5 miles on the park road, then turn right toward Mahogany Hammock. From there it’s a short drive to a parking lot, then a short walk to the half-mile boardwalk loop trail through the hammock.
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