Wednesday, April 4, 2012
March 15, 2012 Everglades National Park
I drove down to Homestead which is the southern entrance to the Everglades. This entrance sign is the only rock I saw all day. There are definitely no rocks here but there is wildlife and incredible scenery just about everywhere I went today.
I started at the Anhinga Trail (named for the bird pictured above) at Royal Palm. The guide book says this mostly boardwalk trail over the fresh water marsh known as Taylor Slough is the best place to view wildlife up close. The following pictures where taken over the two hours I spent on this short trail. I could have stayed here all day long. This trail was amazing.
A double crested cormorant
The turkey vultures are everywhere in this area...
...there is a sign in the parking lot that reads "Vultures Can Damage Cars"...
...they have a bin of automobile tarp covers you can place over your car while parked here.
These birds, like most of the wildlife on this trail, couldn't care less about the camera toting humans walking by.
I am always fascinated by nature, especially when it is strange shit that I've never seen before like this tree. I think it is some kind of mangrove tree. Yes this is one tree.
"Flying Turkey Trot" - REO Speedwagon fans will know what I mean.
A Great Blue Heron
American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis). The crazy Latin name sounds like what would happen if a squatted over this guy.
FYI - alligators are fresh water, crocodiles are saltwater.
An Anhinga drying it's wings. They do not create oil to waterproof their feathers like most water birds do. So after diving, they have to dry their feathers before they are able to fly again. This was a common pose
A Great Blue Heron warily watching the nearby gators.
The heron took off as this alligator glided by.
Then this one glided by...
...then the heron came back. This is the dry season in the Everglades and the Taylor Slough is one of a few wet areas all year long so many local residents hang out here.
This cormorant let me get this close up without even flinching.
The following pictures were all taken on the Anhinga Trail.
I walked along the Gumbo -Limbo Trail which was also at Royal Palm. As I learned, the tree pictured above is a Gumbo-Limbo tree. FYI - read the info picture below. Nature sure creates some strange things.
I saw this little guy on the trail and I wasn't even wearing my glasses...OK I'll admit I only saw him because he ran across then stopped long enough for me to get a quick picture.
Info about the Gumbo-Limbo Tree.
I saw this Florida Softshell turtle on the side of the road.
After lunch in Flamingo, the skies began to look threatening. I decided to hike the Snake Bight Trail down to the Florida Bay. As you can see, hiking off trail was nearly impossible.
Once again amazed by nature, some type of cactus growing out of nowhere...
...and a plant growing on a host tree can be seen in both photos above.
Herons at the end of the trail. These shots are looking out at Snake Bight on the Florida Bay.
The storm was rolling in and I could hear the thunder...
...so I took a few pictures ...
...and headed back.
The canopy cover provided by the trees kept me pretty dry so I stopped and tried to photograph butterflies. This is the only shot that came out.
So I switched to flowers.
I also had very little luck taking pictures of birds due to the incredible tough vegetation along the canal...I did get this Great Egret.
The two sides of the trail...the canal side...
...and the impenetrable forest side.
Back to the trailhead, slightly wet but glad to be away from all those pesky bugs.
My next stop was at West Lake. I took these only to show you how thick a mangrove forest can become.
I can't imagine trying to hike through this mess.
A quick stop at Nine Mile Pond only produced a picture of this white foam along the shoreline. I need to know what causes this...anyone?
I maybe be enjoying a day in the wilds of a National Park but the real world rears it's ugly head. This was at Ficus Pond, where I watched these anhingas fly across the pond to find twigs for their nests...
...if you enlarge this picture, you will see birds nesting in the trees across Ficus Pond.
Next stop Pa-hay-okee Overlook. You can see the "river of grass" here but the pictures I took weren't very good. I was running out of time. I had to meet my Aunt & cousin for dinner which I desparately needed because all I ate all day was a box of Crunch & Munch with a RC Cola.
But I had to stop along the road to get this group of various birds eating in a prairie. There are Great Egrets, White Ibis and a Wood Stork in this picture...
...add Snowy Egrets in this picture...
...and Turkey Vultures in the trees above them...
...and storm clouds above all of us...
...I'll end my day in the Everglades with proof that the NPS has a sense of humor.