After my visit to the Florida Everglades two years ago, my friend Shirley and I began dreaming about going there together someday, since she lives only a few hours from the Everglades and we both love nature, birds, and wildlife. This week “someday” came, and we drove to the delightful little town of Everglades City to spend two days exploring and birding and enjoying the awesome sights and sounds of marshes, swamps, and islands. On the way down to the Everglades we saw a Crested Caracara eating carrion beside the road– a first for both of us and a great start to our adventure!
The first evening we went to a small boardwalk and watched Anhingas settling in the treetops for the night. This was the first time I noticed the light purple feathers that are longer and fluffier on the back of the males’ head and neck. (click on photos to see them larger)
After watching the Anhingas, we drove along a rather bumpy 17 mile road (the same road on which I had seen a panther two years ago). We didn’t see a panther, but we did see an owl in stark silhouette against the setting sun. As we sat in the car and watched, the owl moved closer and closer, always perching in the crooks of dead trees. At one point on the drive we turned off the car, opened the windows, and sat in silence, listening to the night sounds and watching fireflies, with not a light in sight and no sounds of traffic or people. The night was brimming with life, and we sat in silence allowing it to quiet and fill our souls .
The next morning we took the Thousand Islands National Park Boat Tour- a wonderful time of fresh air, birds, and mangrove islands.
|Anhinga with a big fish|
|The view from our table|
|Painting the bougainvillea and palms|
After lunch we cooled off in the air-conditioning of our rooms for a while, since Rowan and we were all getting overheated. Poor Rowan wears a thick fur coat wherever he goes, and right now is dressed for winter in New York, not mid-80’s in Florida.
When the sun was a bit lower we headed back out to the Big Cyprus Bend Boardwalk, which wends its way over half a mile through swampland.
|Straight up a taaalll tree trunk|
|Barred Owl beside the boardwalk|
|Strangler Fig- starts life as an epiphyte, then grows downward and grows roots|
|Mama or Papa Bald Eagle flapping on their HUGE nest|
|Great White Egret at the end of the boardwalk|
One of the birds we really wanted to see was the Roseate Spoonbill, and we’d heard that some had been seen at the Marsh Trail, so we headed there after our swamp walk. The Marsh Trail is open during daylight hours, and by stretching the definition of “daylight,” we got to see and hear the marsh in the fading light at the close of the day. We didn’t see any Roseate Spoonbills, but we saw and heard quite a few Black-crowned Night Herons. We also saw hundreds of White Ibis perched in a row of mangroves, but there wasn’t enough light to get a photo of them.
The next morning we headed back to the Marsh Trail before turning homeward, and we both saw our first Mottled Duck! We also saw several Roseate Spoonbills flying over and one posing nicely near the pathway.
|Blue-winged Teal and Mottled Duck|
On our way back to the car, we heard a White-eyed Vireo– another first for both of us! He was very hard to find in the shrubbery, but I finally saw him and got a photo.
Two wonderful days of birding, exploring, and shared wonder at a beautiful piece of God’s creation.