Florida Day One: What? No Alligators On The Anhinga Trail In the Everglades National Park.

Florida Day One: What? No Alligators On The Anhinga Trail In the Everglades National Park.

Florida Day 1 Royal Palm (9 of 42)
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After my morning hike on the Old Ingraham Highway Trail in the Everglades National Park last Saturday, I spent some time editing photos, working on my blog and hanging at the pool. Around 4:00 p.m.  I decided to return to Everglades and hike on the Anhinga and Gumbo-Limbo trails at the Royal Palm Visitor Center.   This area is  were the Everglades National Park originated. A  state park was established on this “hammock’  in 1916. 

A hammock is an area of slightly higher elevation in the Everglades vast sea of grass and mashes. A  variety of  species of hardwood trees grow including live oak, mahogany, royal palm and my favorite , gumbo-limbo.  The park was named for the large royal palm trees seen in towering above the trail in these first two photos taken at the visitor center. I have posted more history in previous blog post that can be found in the archives of my blog by using the research tool on my website. 

It was party cloudy and a little cool for Florida when I arrived. Some threatening clouds hung overhead.  Unlike my hike on the Old Ingraham Highway trail, where I didn’t see a single person on my six mile hike, there were  large groups of people at Royal Palm. And, as usual, there were many visitors from other countries.  Many languages were spoken as I walked along  the Anhinga Trail. 

What was different this year was the alligators were missing. I have been coming here for  five years now and there are always  a few alligators swimming in or lounging along the banks of the first pond along the trail. Not on Saturday. Not a one. I walked along the trail  and onto the boardwalk that  allows visitors to walk over the marshes and wetlands and observe the fish, turtles and snakes living in the waters below. 

I was somewhat disappointed, not only were the alligators missing. There was little signs of other wildlife. The trail is usually teeming with critters including  anhinga, cormorants, herons, egrets,  butterflies, dragonflies, fish, turtles and snakes. Not on Saturday. The first  sighting of wildlife surprised me. It was a white eyed vireo, a bird I have  never seen  here  before. It was singing loudly in the vegetation growing along the trail. 

I walked out to an observation area  where I usually am able to  photograph many critters but not a one on Saturday. The view of the Everglades was spectacular as always.

I next walked to the another observation area,

where I finally saw one of the birds for which the trail was named, an anhinga or “snake bird”. It uses it’s long neck and daggerlike bills to spear fish. There are usually dozens perched in the trees but very few on Saturday 

Another common bird, the double- breasted cormorant were also few in number on my Saturday hike.  These one was perched atop the observation pavilion and I was able to get a close up photo. 

There wasn’t much wildlife activity on my hike but the beautiful ferns, such as the resurrection fern, the yellow pond lilies 

and this  aquatic flower I can’t identify  were plentiful. .  

As I continued my walk on the Anhinga trail  I saw a purple gallinule feeding on the aquatic plants. It’s long webbed feet make it seem to almost walk across the water. 

I walked over to another viewing area where I have seen a dozen huge alligators  gather. This year it was submerged under water and there wasn’t an alligator to be found. I was almost going to give up on seeing one as I approached the visitor center but I saw this fellow sprawled out along the trail. Finally, an alligator, although a small one. 

And not to far from this fellow where two larger alligators. As I said some years there are dozens lounging along the trails making for great photos but not this year. I am sure it is because of the high water level. The alligators don’t have to gather at the water holes along the trail as they do in dry years. 

After finishing my hike in the Anhinga trail I  next hiked on the Gumbo-limbo trail near the visitor center. This  nice  trail   meanders through the hardwood trees that thrive in  the hammock. 

Large mahogany trees, 

strangler figs, and my favorite the reddish brown gumbo- limbo trees grow here. 

Many species of ferns, including sword ferns, 

and shield ferns grew along  under the canopy of trees. Usually there are many dragonflies and butterflies darting and fluttering about but they,  too, were absent on my Saturday hike. I finished my hike on the Gumbo-limbo trail and decided to take one more hike on the Anhinga trail. 

I saw another purple gallinule ,

this one feeding on one of those exotic aquatic flowers I saw earlier. They are beautiful birds. 

There were no more alligators just the three I saw earlier. I did see a crow flying from it’s perch along the trail  and

a black vulture fly overhead. Not the critters I wanted to see, and share,  on this afternoon hike.  But this is how it is when hiking and exploring  the natural world, some times you see a lot of wildlife and sometime you don’t. 

It was now late afternoon  so I finished my  1 1/2 hike as setting the sun cast its golden light on the wetlands along the Anhinga Trail.  Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website wee more photos from my hike are displayed. Florida Day  One afternoon hike February 12 2022

I drove back to Florida City and had another wonderful meal at a the Famers Market. . I ate there late Friday when I arrived in Florida. On Saturday I had  seafood pasta

and of course, since I  am in Florida,  key  lime pie for dessert.  It was good, as always. After editing some photos I feel asleep looking forward to exploring the Everglades again the next morning.  I love  the Everglades. 

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where Nature may heal and cheer and give strength to body and soul alike.
~John Muir

This is my first post


  1. Ed Redwinski on February 16, 2022 at 7:56 am

    Hi Frank
    They say those pythons are eating all the small animals , birds and small alligators . They will grab a ridge runner too !!!!
    Ed Red

    • fskokoski@gmail.com on March 27, 2022 at 4:18 pm

      lol they might and I have seen some large python tracks. I’m glad to be back in Pa even though it is still freezing up here

  2. Carol on February 16, 2022 at 10:12 am

    Frank, your blog is soooo interesting! I can help with the ID of the plant in the Everglades. It is a later stage of the flower of the Yellow Pond Lily , also called Spatterdock.

    • fskokoski@gmail.com on March 27, 2022 at 4:17 pm

      Thanks I love sharing Sorry for the late response. I love the Everglades and I shall return .