Several cyclists just passed by our tram on the edge of the road and within just a handful of feet from this American Alligator. Animals like this only eat once a week or so and even then , despite the jokes of our tram-tour guide, people really are not on the menu.
--February 12 2019 at 13:24. Homestead, FL, United States
Our plans to take a 90-minute airboat tour fell apart. We do not know why. We found another way to explore a tiny part of the Everglades National Park - I suspect we actually saw more. We drove to the Shark Valley Visitor Center which is the northern most visitor center in the 1.5 million acre National Park and about 90 minutes from Bal Harbor. While there may be other walks people can do we only explored the boardwalk and road near the visitor center before boarding a tram for a two-hour tour.
The Everglades used to be far larger than they are now. They have had a somewhat sad history dating back to the late 19th century. People tried to drain the swamp and Florida also saw rampant land speculation sometimes done by very shady people. Worse all of the development was done with little real understanding of what makes the Everglades work. Today the park still faces many serious problems most having to do with water management. However, what little we did see shows that the Everglades are certainly more than just a swamp and it is clear why Marjorie Stoneman Douglas called the Everglades , “a river of grass.”
We saw several anhinga nesting along the dark waters here in Shark Valey in the Everglades. I suspect the dark waters are created both because the mud the water flows over is very dark and tannic acid from plants is in the water.
--February 12 2019 at 10:45. Homestead, FL, United States
This Snowy Egret is rather close to an American Alligator. We watched the bird for a couple minutes and it clearly saw the alligator. It took off, rose maybe 10 feet into the air, and with a few great flaps of its wings flew over the basking alligator to land about as far from it on the other side as it had just been.
--February 12 2019 at 11:06. Homestead, FL, United States
This Roseate Spoonbill is actually pretty far away so the photo is not the best. The bird gains its pink feathers from iodine it absorbs from the shrimp it eats.
--February 12 2019 at 12:11. Homestead, FL, United States
This Wood Stork seems to be searching for food. I believe it prefers small fish.
--February 12 2019 at 12:41. Homestead, FL, United States
Between our walk and the tram tour I do not think I have ever seen so much wildlife. We saw a wide variety of birds including: anhinga, snowy egret, great blue heron, wood stork, and roseate spoonbill. Of course, we saw alligators. Lots and lots of alligators. The park has a population of, I think, 200,000 American Alligators (Florida has about 1.2 million). We saw a couple dozen alligators during our visit. While mammals from rats and bat to river otters and black bear exist we did not see them. You would be very lucky to ever see the mammals even the larger ones. The Everglades support a variety of plants from the ever-present sawgrass to willows and various hardwood trees. All this occurs on land that is pretty shallow. The water table is just a couple feet down and limestone is often encountered within a foot or two of the surface. It affects how things grow and that can be seen when you pass a hillock - a hardwood hammock (some can be over a mile long; I wish we had been able to walk through one). Alligators excavate around willows making deeper pools where all manner of life can safely congregate as alligators do not eat all that often. It is a remarkable place but like so many the nuance and beauty only become apparent if you take some extra time to look beyond the surface.
I am sure other Great Blue Heron were seen but this one was just posing on the grassy verge between the road and water.
--February 12 2019 at 13:48. Homestead, FL, United States
An alligator sunning part of itself while staying largely hidden in the water. They need to warm up during the day so they will be able to move about at night when hunting, I assume, is even better.
--February 12 2019 at 12:09. Homestead, FL, United States