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Florida Day 2

April 22, 2010

(Note: this was a note originally published to my Facebook page. I realize that it actually fits better as a blog entry. The original date of publication is preserved here. — Eric)

The hotel internet connection is a bit cagey tonight, so I’m typing this fast and trying to summarize as much as possible.

It was a terrific birding day today, and it started when I woke up at 4am. I spent most of the day in the Everglades, and the park didn’t disappoint. Turns out this week is “free” week at all National Parks, so get thee to a National Park before the 25th if you want to take advantage of this opportunity. Anyway, Everglades was terrific, and esepcially the Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm was just phenomenal today – lots of great species seen and heard, including White and Glossy Ibises, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Black-crowned and Yellow-crowned Night-Herons, American and Least Bitterns (I even have photos of the Least – I’ll post them later), Prothonotary Warbler, Barred Owl, and the personal highlight, Smooth-billed Ani! The birdwatching was just astounding and great fun, as the birds there seem to love mugging for the camera.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for me were the Green Herons though. They were definitely in a courtin’ mood, and were calling and displaying and were more ostentatious than I ever imagined they could be. They flew right up to me a couple times and called and preened, and I have some killer shots to show this later. I was just stunned. What a great Earth Day, to see these ordinarily shy and retiring animals strut their stuff so loud and proud, as if to remind everyone what an amazing gift life on this planet is.

I did a fair amount of driving to and fro between parts of the park, and did take the mother of all power naps this afternoon to recover. I spent 5 minutes after waking up from it, trying to remember where I was and what time of year it was. Or is. In any case, I was reminded how much Everglades stands out for me. It feels so primeval. Sure, rationally speaking every national park is primeval, but Everglades really touches on something that, say, Rocky Mountain lacks. It feels vaguely familiar, like my ancestors came from a place like that.

OK, I think I need to retire now. Oh yes. Tomorrow is Tortugas. I’m up again at 4am and driving to Key West, then getting on a boat for a 2.5 hour trip to the place. I’m hoping to see some tern breeding colonies, and who knows what else. Should be fun. I’ll let you know how it went.

-E-

Everglades sunset

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