Florida Day Three: Everglades National Park. A Break In The Rain And A Quick Visit To The Royal Palm Visitor Center

Florida Day Three: Everglades National Park. A Break In The Rain And A Quick Visit To The Royal Palm Visitor Center

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The unexpected heavy rains continued all day  last Friday on my Florida trip. I had hoped to visit the Royal Palm Visitor Center in the Everglades National Park after my arrival in Florida City. The rains were torrential with sever thunder and lightning. Roads were flooded.  So I spent the afternoon in my hotel room. However the rain slowed down a bit around 4 p.m. I decided to take a  chance and drive out to Royal Palm  just to look around.

The rain continued on my 20 minute drive but,  the skies cleared when I arrived at the Visitor Center.  It is usually mostly sunny with cumulus or cirrus clouds in the sky when I visit Royal Palm.  It was a different look this year with the storms clouds in the sky.

However, the rain had stopped I took advantage.  One thing was the same, their were still alligators in the ponds and waters on the Anhinga Trail. I saw this big fellow on the start of my walk.

The Royal Palm Visitor Center is situated atop a hammock the the Everglades. The Everglades are essentially a river of grass flowing from central Florida to the Florida Bay. A hammock is a high point in this “river of grass” where hardwood trees are able to grow and provide a unique habitat for wildlife. Royal Palm also has may royal palms trees growing here and hence it’s name. ( I have provided more information on the Royal Palm Visitor Center in previous blog posts  and you can find them using the search tool below).  I continued my  hike  on the Anhinga Trail, a .8 mile trail through a sawgrass marsh.  under the  threatening clouds.

There is usually an abundance of wildlife on this trail but I wasn’t sure what I would  on this cool, windy and rainy day. I wasn’t disappointed, after seeing the large alligator I saw a great blue heron preening itself along the trail,

and an eastern great egret wading for food in the water. 

I also saw a pair of this colorful birds, purple gallinules,

almost walking across the water on lily pads, with their wide feet,

searching for plants and aquatic vegetation.

I walked on the paved trail first. It ends at a wooden platform overlooking a basin where you usually find large alligators. There were no alligators on Friday but there were some anhinga birds  perched in a tree,

The trail is named after these  long necked birds also know as snakebirds. There are usually a lot more perched in the trees drying their  wings on sunny days. .

I continued my hike on the boardwalk that meanders through the marsh,

The waters are overgrown with spatterdock ,

or pond lilies and their large pad like leaves.

 I usually see  a lot of fish and turtles in these waters but not on this visit.  However I  did see  this large turtle swim near the boardwalk. I believe it is a Florida soft shell turtle.

As  usual I saw double crested cormorants perched on the roof of a shelter on the boardwalk, some perched in the trees in the marsh

 and others swimming it the waters.

I followed the boardwalk ,through the marsh under the still threatening skies and back to the Visitor Center.

Here I decided to walk on the Gumbo-limbo trail. I love this short paved trail and the beautiful shiny brown  trunked trees it is named after.

They are my favorite Florida tree.

This short 1/2 mile trail takes you through the hardwood hammock of gumbo-limbo , strangler fig, and mahogany trees. As I began my walk on the trail the sun broke through the clouds bringing out the pretty brown color of the gumbo-limbo trees.

Many air plants and ferns grow along the trail including sword ferns,

and I believe leatherleaf ferns.

There are usually many exotic butterflies and dragonflies seen on the trail, but because of the heavy rains I only saw a few dragonflies, This is, I believe a female blue dasher.

I finished my hike on the Gumbo-Limbo Trail  and decided to take another  walk on the Anhinga Trail

I saw many of the same birds as before and this swallow tailed kite  that flew overhead. Here is a link to a gallery with some more of the birds I saw on my hike. Florida Day Three Everglades Royal Palm Visitor Center birds March 22 2024.

There were more people on the trail now. They were only a couple when I started but more showed up as the rains held off. But not for long. More threatening clouds appeared in the skies so I decided to head back to the car.

On the way I saw a few more alligators,

including this juvenile. It may just have left it’s mother’s nest recently.

A also saw this brown anole lizard scamper across the board walk. I got back to the parking lot just as some light rain began to fall. The rain got heavier as I drove back to Florida City. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my  hike. Florida Day Three Everglades Royal Palm Visitor Center March 22 2024.

It was torrential by the time I returned to the Farmers Market restaurant for dinner. I got soaked just running inside from my car. I enjoyed another great home cooked meal of  seafood pasta,

and of course I had dessert, the apple cobbler pie. I love their home style cooking. I was still raining hard when I left the restaurant. And I learned right before I retired there was a tornado watch overnight. Heavy rains were in the forecast for all day Saturday. I was a little disappointed but this is to be expected. It is the rains that create the “river of grass”  that is the Everglades.

“Not often in these demanding days are we able to lay aside the problems of the time, and turn to a project whose great value lies in the enrichment of the human spirit. Today we make the achievement of another great conservation victory. We have permanently safeguarded an irreplaceable primitive area. We have assembled to dedicate to the use of all people for all time, the Everglades National Park.”   President Harry S Truman, address at the Dedication of Everglades National Park, December 6, 1947

 

 

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