Sunday, March 28, 2010
Spring Break Part II
Yesterday I posted about the first half of our trip to South Florida. Today I'm posting about the Everglades. Pam at Digging also spent some time in South Florida recently. Check out here post from March 23 and March 22 (here and here). She's prolific and a good photographer. Her March 22 post deal with the Naples Botanical Garden. We went there on a windy afternoon (so no photos, although Pam has some good ones) and were impressed with the variety of bromeliads but this is still a young garden and had little to inspire me in my small yard (large drifts of similar plants look great but are hard for me to plan in my limited space. I'm much more of a plant collector than a garden designer).
We went to the Shark Valley entrance to the Everglades. They have a tram that takes you out to a large gator hole and a tower you can climb to get a good look over the region. The tram is narrated so if you don't know a lot about the local wildlife it's good. I caught several errors in our guides spiel, though. Nothing that the average person would catch or even care about. Just me, A Rabid Biologist. The tram trail is also accessible to bikes or pedestrians (it's about 15 miles round trip). Again, if we had taken my different camera bag (my backpack bag) we might have been able to bike it but with all of my equipment (20 pounds worth) we were lazy and took the tram. The big gator hole provided some great looks at big alligators (Alligator mississippiensis).
It also provided some close looks at Purple Gallinule (Porphyrula martinica).
That's amazing color, isn't it? We've usually seen this bird disappearing into the vegetation but there were several Gallinule that allowed us good looks (and good photos!). Those huge feet allow the Gallinule to walk on floating plants.
We also got looks at an Anhinga nest. Here's an adult (Anhinga anhinga, a bird so unique they named it twice).
And here is a large and ungainly juvenile. I'm not sure what to call this stage. A brancher? It isn't a fledgling yet but it has left the nest and is climbing around (clumsily) in the shrubs.
The canal in this area is artificial (like most South Florida channels) but lined with wildlife. Like this turtle (possibly the common cooter Pseudemys floridana).
And, of course, more waders. This is a Little Blue Heron (Egretta caerulea) that walked right past my tripod while hunting between the trail and the canal. Lots of very close up shots.
We did make another stop at Big Cypress Bend but the photo opportunities were not as good and it was (again) the middle of the afternoon when photography and birding are at their worst. Best part of this stop was spotting this wild bees nest. It really was huge.
Yellow Crowned Night Heron (Nyctanassa violacea)
So those are the highlights of my Spring Break. I came back to temperatures in the 30s and 40s and a prediction of rain for most of this week. But there is stuff happening in the garden and the bad advice commercials are coming hot and heavy so soon I'll be back to posting about gardening again.