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Hells Bay

Photography by Capt. Steve Bailey

Dolphin (c) Steve Bailey 2001

Sanibel Island and Ft. Myers Beach are very well known in the world of bird watchers and photographers. During the winter months professional and amateur photographers alike will make the early morning trips through Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on Sanibel or Lovers Key State Park on Ft. Myers Beach looking to burn into film a great moment in time. I can offer a charter with privacy and, hopefully, the chance at a few shots you wouldn't get from a car, beach or pier.

All photos on this page were taken by Capt. Steve Bailey. They are copyrighted. Any reproduction, distribution or dissemination of the material presented herein in any form whatsoever without the prior written consent of Capt. Steve Bailey is strictly prohibited.

  • Captiva Moon
  • Mayfly
  • Angler
  • Pelican
  • Sunset
  • Alligator
  • Limpit
  • Bald Eagle
  • Beach Birds
  • Brown Heron
  • Egret
  • Falcon
  • Limpit
  • Flying snowy Egret
  • Great Blue Heron feeding her chick
  • Flats boat at sunset
  • Heron
  • Osprey with dinner
  • Otters make the waters of Pine Island Sound their home
  • Brown Pelican
  • Roseatte Spoonbill near Ding Darling on Sanibel
  • Limpit
  • Roseatte Spoonbill near Ding Darling on Sanibel
  • Beautiful southwest Florida sunset
  • White Heron near Captiva, Florida
  • White Pelicans - Bird Photography Tours by Boat near Sanibel

Photography and EcoTours

The Best Times

Though most people come to Sanibel during January through mid-March for birds, the prime time is actually much longer if you can get out on the water.


In late October or early November...

...the Great Blue Herons start to nest on small mangrove islands. They are easily approachable as are all nesting birds in Pine Island Sound since they are accustomed to seeing boats with people fishing every day. Bald Eagle (c) Steve BaileyMany Eagles' nests are on Pine Island where they can't be seen easily, but they all hunt the Sound for food. Mainly, they steal from the Ospreys. An Eagle will sit in a Mangrove tree or on a piling and watch the Ospreys fishing. When one gets a fish, the Eagle is quick to notice.

From late November till the first part of March...

...large flocks of White Pelicans spend the winter in Pine Island Sound. They are approachable by lying down in the boat and setting up a drift to them. Shooting from a low angle just over the gunwale of the boat makes the best shot eliminating most of the background.

In February...

...Ospreys begin nesting. Every platformed channel marker on the water will have an Osprey nest on it. Obviously, they see boats every day, all day, and continue on with life.


...starts the nesting season for the other birds in the Sound. Herons and Egrets first followed by Cormorants and Brown Pelicans.

July through September... the most graceful birds (to me anyway), the Frigate Birds. These birds all nest in turn on a few rookery islands in Pine Island Sound. They are very accustomed to boats with people fishing around these areas and are not disturbed by our presence.

Sunrise with Egret, copyright Steve Bailey 2006Not Just Birds

Other subjects that might present themselves on a morning out would include Bottlenose Dolphin, Otter and Manatee not to mention the beauty of a sunrise on Pine Island Sound and the beach of Cayo Costa.

Getting Great Shots

Light, hand-held 300mm F4 and 400mm F5.6 telephoto lenses work very well for shots from the boat. I carry a tripod only when we might leave the boat and take a walk on a beach.