I grabbed my camera and a long lens and joined a few other photographer friends for an afternoon cruise into a Louisiana swamp in western Terrebonne Parish. We wanted to photograph bald eagles. But we found so much more.
After a few weeks of cold weather, the alligators of this Louisiana swamp couldn’t resist a weekend warm-up and some sunshine. We spotted several gators sunning themselves on logs near the water’s edge.
it’s Eagle time in the louisiana swamp
After heading south for the winter, the bald eagles have settled into their southern treetop homes in the Louisiana swamp and marshes. The huge nests are plentiful and usually easy to spot this time of year since the tall cypress trees have no leaves. You can see the tiny dark feathered heads of the chicks bobbing above the rims of nests after the eagles’ eggs hatch.
A cajun man swamp tour
Captain Billy Gaston operates Cajun Man’s Swamp Tours in the western Terrebonne Parish community of Gibson. He easily guides our sight-seeing boat from one eagle nest to another, and he is constantly on the lookout, spotting flying birds and others perched in treetops. Gaston knows how to position our boat for the best possible light and view of the majestic eagles.
My friends and I took this swamp tour because we wanted to see and photograph bald eagles. And we saw lots of eagles! But as I scanned through the hundreds of images I snapped with a rapid fire shutter release, I find so much more. The wading birds, like the great blue herons, a variety of egrets, ibis, white and brown pelicans, seagulls, osprey, red-tailed hawks, vultures, limpkin, owls, anhinga, and all sorts of waterfowl fill the digital images I captured in this south Louisiana swamp.
A new bird for the louisiana swamp
Once exclusive to Florida, the Limpkin has found it’s way to the Louisiana Swamp. These wading birds were first spotted in wetland areas of southern Louisiana in 2017. The Limpkin is now easier to find in swamps and marshes. We photographed them in two different locations on our tour of western Terrebonne parish, and they were all devouring the invasive apple snail. The large apple snail is causing a problem as it consumes underwater vegetation, a critical part of bird habitat. Limpkins to the rescue!
watch this video of limpkins attacking snails
As I process the best of the photos, I begin to see the colorful patterns of feathers, the bright eyes, the striped beaks, and how the birds flapped their wings and gripped the tree branches with their feet.
sunset – a perfect ending
The sun disappeared behind scattered clouds just before setting in the western sky. With the fading light, I put down my camera and to enjoy the golden glow of the Louisiana marsh and swamp. As if the birds weren’t enough, nature ends our day in dramatic fashion!
TV feature on our swamp photo tour – Jan. 2021
All of this in just four hours
I enjoy reliving my Louisiana swamp tour as I look through my images of that one afternoon with Captain Billy Gaston. Photographing birds in the wild is challenging for the most experienced photographers. We were on a moving boat, bobbing up and down, trying to capture distant birds in sharp focus and proper exposure through 600-800 millimeter lenses. I’m a novice at this type of photography, but eager for another afternoon in the swamp.
view my wildlife images from the louisiana swamp
Click on image to enlarge and scroll
My first trip with captain billy – Feb. 2020
getting to this louisiana swamp tour
Cajun Man Swamp Tours, 251 Marine Dr, Gibson, LA