FL Trip: Day 5-Apr 3-The Everglades

The Gator, a symbol of the Everglades. We saw many, especially on the Anhinga Trail.

Today’s plan was to bird the Everglades, then move north to Vinny and Deanna’s home in Lake Suzy on the Central Gulf coast. The exhausting driving/birding from the day before had tired us all out and after getting off to a somewhat late start, we arrived at the visitor’s center well-rested for a day of birding.

The visitor’s center was filled with exhibits, a book store and rangers happy to answer any questions. We had to get moving though and after a few minutes, moved on to our first stop, the Anhinga Trail. The trail is a .5 mile boardwalk leading through wet habitat. It is known for the birds and other animals that are very tame and let you get extremely close.

When we arrived, we started seeing birds immediately. The trail’s namesake let us get especially close as did numerous herons, egrets and storks.

male anhinga

juv Wood Stork

The Anhinga Trail

We continued down the trail, a few Glossy Ibis flew over, an alligator swan past as a female Anhinga watched all the action from her nest.

Alligator

female Anginga on nest

Just like all the other wildlife on the trail, the vultures were also very confiding

This will make you think twice when you go swimming.......

This shot makes me laugh, and I only discovered it when I got home and emptied my SD Card. Kinda makes you think of a man with a pipe in his mouth!

Another silly shot. You gotta love those giant, webbed feet and the double crests

On our way out, I was surprised to see a beautiful Swallow-tailed Kite swoop very low. The kite continued swooping around a tree full of moss, diving down, up and diving again. This continued on for 5 minutes. As he dove I admired his beautiful pattern and graceful flight. Finally, satisfied he left and as he flew out I spied a piece of moss hanging from his talons. Must be nesting material. The Swallow-tailed is a common species throughout the Everglades and we would see a good amount before the day was up.

A gorgeous Swallow-tail

carrying nesting material

We continued on, making a few stops where we located a few common Everglades birds including a few Great Crested Flycatchers.

Great Crested Fly

With time running low, we arrived at Flamingo, the southernmost “outpost” in the Everglades. It includes campgrounds, a visitor’s center, a marina, and an old motel, restaurant and gas station that are no longer in use. A mega-rare Bar-tailed Godwit had been reported here, as was a Shiny Cowbird. I was really looking forward to this stop the whole trip, hoping to see both birds.

I arrived at the godwit spot and immediately located a flock of shorbs. I set up my scope and scanned with other birders but after 20 minutes of not finding a Bar-tailed in the large group of Marbleds, Willets, and Dowitcher’s, I decided to try for the cowbird and then go back and give it another go.

At first, the flock of Brown-headed Cowbirds were moving around a lot, flying into trees, making it rather difficult to spot a Shiny. But soon they settled down and I was able to pick out a beautiful, male Shiny Cowbird, foraging with the flock. The birds let me get very close and I was able to get great looks and some decent photos. The birds then flew into the tree above them and I spotted the Shiny sitting in the sun showing off his beautiful, irridecent blue back. What a bird!

Shiny Cowbird

Shiny and Brown-headed

Shiny Cowbird

Shiny Cowbird

Birders looking at the Shiny

I spent the last half hour of the trip looking for the godwit, unfortunately to no avail. We still had 5 hour left to drive to reach Lake Suzy. I was really upset at missing the bird and moped in the backseat on the way home. However, when we got there found the bird had not been seen that day!!! I was exuberant, not just because because I hadn’t missed it but also because I hadn’t wasted the time waiting for it.

The Everglades day was a real boost from the day before. Because of the treatment schedule, I wasn’t able to spend an extra day there, something I would’ve liked to do. Oh well, there’s always next year.

-AB

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This entry was posted in Elsewhere Birding, FL Trip Mar-Apr '10. Bookmark the permalink.

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