No Anhinga And Only One Alligator At The Anhinga Trail In The Everglades , Florida Day Two.
Of course I was up early Thursday morning, my first full day in Florida in over a year. The sun rose at 6: 54 a.m. and I planned to be on the Anhinga Trail in the Royal Palm Visitor Center in the Everglades National Park to watch it. Located about 15 miles from my hotel in Florida City it is about a 25 minute drive through mostly rural farm land.
It was mostly clear and a pleasant 73 degrees when I arrived at the trail , much better than the 14 degrees temperature I left back home in Northeastern Pennsylvania. It was good to see palm trees and cumulus clouds again.
I brought a new camera along on this trip, a Sonny RX10 iv. I loved my Cannon cameras and lenses but they were heavy for my neck, shoulder and back issues. So this would be a learning experience and I soon learned how much I had to learn when I attempted to photograph the rising sun. This is the best photo I was able to get. It will take time to learn the settings, baby steps I must take.
I walked out to the walkways that meander into the flowing waters of the Everglades. They are, essentially a “river of grass”. It is a wonderful place to watch the sun rise, so peaceful. There were a few cars in the parking lot but I didn’t see a single person for the first 10 minutes of my walk.
I was surprised that I didn’t see many egrets or herons as I began my hike. There are usually dozens wading in the waters or flying overhead in the morning twilight. However, I was delighted to see this brightly colored, big footed and gawky bird walking on the lily pads in the early morning sun.
It was a purple gallinule. This chicken sized rail forages on aquatic vegetation in sub-tropical fresh waters.
The new camera performed well, allowing me to capture these photographs.
There were also hundreds of dragonflies darting and hovering in the air above the waters along the trails. Some would land on a leaf or twig, where, I was surprised to capture these images the zoom lens of the camera.
I don’t know what species of dragonfly they were but they were beautiful.
After my encounter with the purple gallinule I ran into a group of photographers who also were enjoying the usual abundance of wildlife here on the Anhinga Trail.
I walked out to a small mud/water hole which always attracts dozens of alligators. It was early so I wasn’t expecting to see any yet, they usually don’t crawl out of the warm waters until later, and soak up the late morning sun. However, I was surprised to find the mud/water hole flooded with water and overgrown with vegetation. Not thinking much of it I walked along the trails, not seeing a lot of wildlife.
and I saw this tiny bird, I think a blue-gray gnat catcher.
The trails also had many of these beautiful blue morning glory flowers in full bloom.
While I waited for the sun to warm it up and bring out the alligators and anhinga or snake birds ( they like to soak of the warm rays of the Florida sun too) I walked out the Gumbo -Limbo Trail. This trail takes you through the hammock, or high ground, in the Everglades “river of grass” where beautiful hardwood trees are able to grow. I love the reddish hues of the gumbo-limbo trees.
There was again not much wildlife on this trail, and, fortunately not many insects and mosquitoes either. There were the usual exotic ferns ,
and flowers growing along the trail. There are a number of posts in the archives of my blog with more information on these trails.
I left the Gumbo-Limbo trail and followed a more backwoods trail that followed the old Ingraham Highway. Last year the trail was infested with mosquitoes but, surprisingly, there were none this year. The trail had been recently widened taking away from the deep woods look I enjoyed. I am now wondering if they may also have sprayed for the mosquito problem.
Anyways I also noticed that the surrounding wetlands held much more water. The trail was flooded in parts and I had to cross a stream flowing over the usually dry path.
The trail led me to Hidden Lake, which has a campground and environmental center not open to the public. I was out about two miles and decided to walk back to Royal Palm.
The only wildlife I saw on my hike on these back trails were some more dragonflies, which aren’t a bad thing to see.
Back at the Anhinga trail I looked for the alligators and anhinga birds that I always found here on my previous visits. On this hike, none.
However, I did see two other common residents. One was pretty, well it’s eyes were pretty anyway, the double-crested cormorant.
Like the anhinga it like to spread its wings to dry in the sun.
The other one, not so pretty. the pesky black vultures. They are everywhere and, for some reason, are attracted to the black rubber and plastic of automobiles. They do considerably damage I am told.
They aren’t, in my opinion. to pretty either.
I had walked over five miles, it was getting hot and I was hungry. As I was leaving I looked and saw ….. a baby alligator. It was the only one I saw. Some years there are dozens all along the trail.
A passing ranger confirmed what I thought. The Everglades were flooded. In Winter, in most years the water is low and so the fish must swim to small pools, as are found at the Anhinga trail. So the birds, and alligators follow the food, i.e. fish. This year the fish can swim freely in the flooded Everglades and so the alligators and birds follow and are spread out over hundreds of miles. And so no alligator photos this year. I hope to make up for it with photos of other critters. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of the birds and critters I saw on my hike. Florida day Two. Everglades Royal Palm .Animals February 18 2021.
It was near 11 a.m. and I called in my breakfast order and headed to my hotel, hoping to visit the trail again later in the day. Here is a link to a gallery with some photos of my hike. Florida Day Two. Everglades Royal Palm. February 18 2021.
“Water is the driving force of all nature.” — Leonardo da Vinci