Monday, February 29, 2016

What a Croc!

I'm posting every other day trying to get caught up to real time..of course I've been back more than a week and I'm itching  to go again, but who knows when that time will come and who knows where I'll go.  IF it were only me I would never be still but anyway, I have a few more posts to share of the places I visited and the things I saw.  I always  focus on Nature and some history so sorry you wont see snazzy eateries or ritzy locals as its not my kind of thing.  When I travel I do my own cooking with a few exceptions.  On my last full day in the Everglades  I helped a fellow find the white crowned pigeon and in return he gave me a hot  tip!


So the fellow told me go to Nine Mile Pond there is a 9 ft crocodile there laying right by the edge of the lake.  I had stopped at 9 mile Pond on my way down on Sunday and  it was a pretty pond with some coots floating on it and some canoes stacked up apparently for public use.  SO I zoomed north on the Everglades Hwy back up about 7 miles or so to pond.  In the lower 48 The American Crocodile lives only in South Florida! Here is a range map I clipped from the net...Florida is also the only place  you can find crocs and gators together, according to the page I googled there are approximately 1,000 American crocs living in South Florida. 

When I arrived I saw a small crowd and figured this is where I'd find the crock, and it was.  I happened to arrive just as a group of paddlers had returned from a ranger led outing, and he gave us some facts about these guys I did not however think to video his impromptu talk about the crocodile and the differences between them and gators.  He pointed out how when the mouth is closed on crocs you can still see the 4th tooth...



And they have a more narrow snout than the alligator, and can reach 20 ft and 800-1,000 lbs and live 50-70 yrs! Amazing facts and look at it...this one is 9-10  ft in length...


The front feet have 5 toes and the back 4 check out these claws!! Now those claws can help him really get a grasp on that ground and propel him forward they can swim at 20 miles per hr and are mostly secretive, more so than alligators they use the element of surprise in helping them hunt. 


a short vid I did make....




SO I found out from one of the paddlers all one had to do was sign up for the 2 hr guided paddle of Nine Mile Pond...DANG wish I'd known cause I really didn't want to paddle alone its my fault for not paying attention and being such a loner...I was in the VC the day before and saw that same Ranger and if only I had asked about what ranger led programs were going on...so you live n learn maybe someone reading this will enjoy this tip, so sign up then show up at 9 mile pond at 7:45 am I can no longer paddle well with my left wrist the way it is not flexible so I felt afraid to try it alone...This was a great opt that slipped through my fingers!! This ranger loves his job..


I left Everglades Tuesday morning after checking on the Osprey nest  and the skimmers once more.  I had really wanted to see a 40 ft Python or an escaped Iguana but no luck on that front..


A Western Spindalis had been spotted in Markham Park,  it was basically on the way so why not try to see it...so I put the co-ordinates in Wilma and off we went...got to Markham park OMG huge place.  The lady in the VC told me it had been spotted near the nature trail, I went over walked the entire Nature trail and saw nothing but a couple grackles...disappointed I left they have a campground FULL without a reservation I get the feeling they don't even look to actually see if there are any open spots because I did drive around and saw many unfilled spots oh well can't fight the system these days...so Casey and I had to also skip the search for the Smooth Billed Ani reported in Loxahatchee NRW because the only option for camping took me north out of the area...we once again stayed in Phipps Co. park near Stuart, FL.  


PEACE
Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.

Friday, February 26, 2016

West Lake and Eco Pond

The mosquitoes were gone in the morning so I set up my stove outside for coffee and breakfast gave Casey a walk around then we headed out for various sights, birding, and nature walks....So our first stop was again over in the Walk in area to check the skimmers and the bay...still busy 
And there was a red shouldered hawk hunting in the area in fact he would fly over the bay and spook the skimmers




then rest on the solar array framing


This white pelican was out of the water in the mud..and a willet was patrolling the beach



Our next stop was West lake and the boardwalk there...


that takes you thru a red and black mangrove forest! Trees that have half the root out of the water...and manyyy roots up to get oxygen..



and you can see some of the red tannic acid in this shot


Came upon this chillin Gr Egret on the boardwalk 


then the board walk opens up to West Lake..


Saw some warblers on the way out some weird streaky photos of the quick little devils, there was a Black n White, a Black Throated Green, and a Black Throated Blue!! 

The most common butterfly I saw was the Florida White!


No hike on Snake Bight trail too many skeeters, so we went back down to Eco Pond to look for the White crowned Pigeon that was rumored to be hanging around..got a sneak peek at a white eyed vireo they had been following me every where I was happy to get a backwards glance shot. 


We flushed the pigeon right away and I figured I missed my shot at getting a photo..but when I was leaving the Eco Pond, I respotted him eating some berries in thick cover about 10 ft up...I kept trying and got these not so hot shots of a new lifer for me..


and a closer altho fuzzy shot of that white eye!


So with this White Crowned Pigeon, this brings my lifers to......I totally forgot to put one on the post where I saw him so I'm adding him here and I dunno if its western with a dunlin, a semipalmated what?? 


with this slight curve to this beak I think it could be a western sp
  1. Lesser Scaup @  Little Talbot
  2. Roseate Spoonbill @ Merritt Island
  3. American Flamingo @ Bunche Beach 
  4. Limpkin @  Big Cypress Nat Preserve
  5. White Crowned Pigeon  @ Everglades
              

And then I met this fellow at Eco Pond looking for the pigeon, I was able to help him find it in the same place I saw it...so that was fun because it was fun to share with someone who was as excited as me to see it...and he shared a bit of info with me--- my next post.

PEACE
Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.

Monday, February 22, 2016

Some videos in the Everglades


I made a tiny change to my blog page did you find it? The Campground at Flamingo sure could use a makeover...IF it was fully functional it would be easier to get a reservation.  My  reasoning is when I tried to reserve 2 days I had originally wanted to be there on Sat & Sun, it showed a Full campground on Saturday, I know weekends are not the best time to arrive, but it just worked out that way so I ended up booking for Sunday n Monday...instead Its a reserve only campground..AND yet when I arrived, I discovered there is only ONE loop out of the 3 in use for Tents and small set ups and one loop for the larger RV's. Loop B & C are not in USE and being allowed to grow over!!  And these loops didn't even show up on the reservation page yet they stood empty when I arrived....SO sad to see our National Parks system fallen into such a state and only 100 yrs old, We the People have been sitting with our mouths shut far too long, and the constant threat to us of having our Public lands destroyed, sold, given away its the FOR REAL American Tragedy if we can't turn this around!! 
There is a walk in area and its quite large but it was closed due to soggy flooded ground...  There's solar heated showers in Loop A and in the Walk in Area, I showered in the walk in area, and I got a site in loop B where NO one was camped...except one host who did not follow the rules of keeping his dog on leash nothing like having a huge Golden Retriever completely ignore his owners shouts to come back as he Barrels straight at me and Casey...you never know what a dog will do Casey wanted to attack which could have drawn an attack back I shouted at the dog and he finally left us alone, I went over and told the fellow I didn't appreciate his  breaking the rules he said sorry  heck I just wanted to embarrass him!!  Sorry really doesnt cut it.

The Florida Bay...

The park needs a good restoration, it could be brilliant again with just a little investment... MOSQUITOES were very active and would eat you alive if you stood still for more than 15 seconds and I hear summer is worse so best to go when a good chill is on.

There was at least one Royal Tern with the black skimmers...he was napping in the warm sun


The Bay is really beautiful with lots of aforementioned black skimmers and white and brown pelicans..


The White Pelican and the Brown Atlantic Pelican with a brown neck


Other browns have the white neck non breeding is the way I understand it. 


LOL I really like this capture a cormorant with a FISH in his beak with a brown and white pelican in hot pursuit!!


Right by the walk in area and the first shower house is a snag with an active Osprey nest in it...a pair maybe  has eggs, I didnt see any hatchlings...


Here is a shortie of the pair, the male has a fish, he won't share tho...she tweeted a couple times asking for a piece when he ignored her she took off to find one of her own...




I took a few videos on this trip and I havent shared any!! This one I like wish you could hear the sound of him splashing....


And another video of the white fishing...



Also on the grounds of the walk in area is a coconut tree just the one 


This is another Osprey I found by the marina, he also had a fish for dinner, 


You can just see it in the right side claw...

We went in as soon as the sun made its first dip due to mosquitoes, I don't normally make a fire cause I don't like the smoke, but I did make one to try and chase away some mosquitoes it didnt work, Casey and I were swatting skeeters all night!!  It got cold and I had to use my Mr Buddy heater but then it got too hot so had to turn it off...after a not so sound sleep we awoke to this sky outside our window...



Lucky tho it did not rain it cleared and we had another sunny day with a strong wind..
Next our second day in the Everglades. 

PEACE
Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

Farther into the Everglades

I did stay back at Monument Lake Campground in the Big Cypress where I have been the past 2 nights, so after my visit to Shark Valley I decided to have an easy afternoon, so Casey and I went back and I wrote out some post cards I purchased at the Miccosukee Indian General Store the later we drove to the post office to mail them! Yes there is a post office in the Big Cypress Preserve.  


And it just happens to be the smallest US post Office in the nation!! Ochopee zip 34141. 


My post cards should have the famous Ochopee post mark!

On the way past Shark Valley to the rest of the Everglades via roads you must pass through 2 towns...Homestead and Florida City.  Many of the visitors wanted to do an airboat ride I'm not really into that kind of thing...there are numerous places to do the airboat rides along this road, Hwy 41 the Tamiami Trail , I like to just go at my own pace.  

And you have to stop at Robert is Here! Its a fun fruit and veggie market.  All kinds of seasonal foods, and some imported stuff too...


I got a very sweet mango, and Robert himself cut it up for me! I got a couple tomatoes too.  Its def a fun stop.  I was very tempted to get one of these coconut heads...


The coco frio is like a chilled drink, they bore a hole for you and you turn that baby up and enjoy a fresh chilled coconut milk!  So Shark Valley is really way over by the boundary of Big Cypress..I suggest you look at the Everglades Map, and you see how its laid out there are only a few roads...Then its a bit of a drive to get to the rest of the park.  I took hwy 9336 out of Homestead and the first thing in the park is the Ernest Coe visitors Center.  The Coe V.C. is nice and I got my passport stamped with the Centinnel stamp the NPS is 100 years old this year and the Everglades Stamp also.  They have a nice but small Gift shop My next stop was the Anhinga trail which is a short boardwalk.  


The water was very clear and blue here..lots of lily pads with longggg stems you can see right down to the bottom where the stems are rooted.  

One great thing I saw on the anhinga trail was this purple gallinule he was walking around on these big pads on top of the water...


Only saw the one tho...and just off the boardwalk was yet another alligator! He was being bothered by  people wanting selfies with an alligator...I really did NOT like that.  If the gator should decide to strike out HE would pay the price for these stupid tourists.  Some got much closer than this fellow and some crouched down low in order to get the gator right behind them...I gave the crowd and the gator a wide berth..


Here is a zoom on this gator he was very alert...


On the Gumbo Limbo trail I found this really tall palm could be a royal palm so many kinds of Palm and I did not pay good attention to the names...


And here is a cool web in just the right light...


My next stop was at the Pa hay okee boardwalk...A beautiful overlook of the saw grass marsh.


I met these 3 Britts with some really awesome lenses, They had no tripods so holding them steady was a challenge...


we all had a good laugh about it, including them, they were breathless with the effort...a good AB workout Im sure!  And what were we all trying to photo--- This Great blue heron in the grass..now we see how the camo of his feathers work.  


Then  I stopped at the Dwarf Cypress forest...


4 ft above sea level...wow 


I really liked the huge leathery ferns..look how BIG!


Saw more gray catbirds...


I finally made it down to the Flaming Visitors Center and the campground where I would stay for 2 nights...
There is a marina and a beach but its a muddy kind of beach (found out the hard way) not the sandy kind you enjoy a walk on...and the Florida Bay. 


There was a huge flock of Black Skimmers here...


they would flush and then return over and over...can never get enough of these colorful birds!  


and lots of Laughing Gulls on the dock...by the marina


In the visitors center a board to write sightings..


Couple of things listed there I can def check on!! More in next post..

PEACE
Eleanor Roosevelt: You must do the thing you think you can not.