|Shark Valley: the Everglades wrapped up with a bow on top
||[Feb. 5th, 2008|09:12 pm]
Last Sunday, my son and I went to Shark Valley in the Everglades National Park. Twenty-five miles east of the Turnpike on Tamiami Trail, you pass dozens of invitingly touristy little airboat ventures to get there. Until now, I thought the airboat was the best, most comfortable way to see the Everglades. Oh, no. Tram!
Shark Valley has a fifteen mile tram loop that takes you right through the heart of the Everglades. The more adventurous and fit can rent bikes or hike the tram road. At the top of the loop is a 30+ foot observation tower that allows you to see for miles. And what do you see?
Plenty of birds.
And interesting plant life!
Here are some of my favorite photos, some from the tram and some from the two mile hike we took later.
This is a momma gator with her babies. Look closely. I count at least eight babies in the picture.
I saw three or four wood storks - a highly endangered species.
This one is hunting. It spreads out a wing and fish swim under it for shade. Then snap!
A dome of dwarf cypress. This time of year, they've dropped all their needles.
A rare short-tailed hawk.
A great blue heron.
A cute little guy.
I was so excited by this one. I'd never seen a centipede before. Check out the little feet!
A male anhinga.
A male anhinga swimming. Notice the way the tail fans out? Some people call them 'the water turkey.' The natives call it the 'snake bird' for the snake-like way it moves.
A double-breasted comorant. Apparently really great fishers. The guide said in parts of Asia, the fishermen have stopped using nets and started using comorants on long leashes.
A couple birdies I haven't identified yet. (Forgot my field guide today!) Green herons?
A baby gator and a juvenile. Look at the lily pads in the water for an indication of size.
A momma and a baby hanging out.
They tell you to stay 15 feet away from the gators at all times...
As you can see from the width of the road? Not always possible.
I really loved the thistles. I'd never seen them before. Some were over 4 feet high, and they attracted a great deal of insect life.
Pretty scenery and a red-shouldered hawk. (You may note how brown everything is. This is Florida in a drought.)
Close-up of the hawk.
Egret in flight. Imagine seeing what Audubon reported he saw in the Everglades - flocks of these birds flying overhead so numerous that they blocked out the sun for fifteen minutes at a time.
Pretty amazing, huh?