We were off to the Everglades and the Flamingo Visitor Center today.
And although there are flamingos that are native to Florida they are only in specific pockets in the south of Florida.
They are occasionally seen in the area we are heading but they are more of a rarity than the norm.
I didn’t realize but flamingos were almost made extinct by over hunting and they are still recovering.
To begin the day we had a nice sleep in and ate our breakfast out by the pool.
The little house sparrows were at our feet picking up any crumb they could find. Rob made sure they had lots.
Then we headed off down the road.
The first stop was at Robert Is Here which is a fruit stand.
And oh what a fruit stand.
We actually met Robert and he cut up an avocado for me as well as a mango for Rob.
The avocado was the size of a grapefruit and the pit was the size of a small orange.
He put on some lime juice and salt and hmmm good.
We bought all sorts of fruit and have been eating them all day.
Besides mangos, we got a pomelo (the original grapefruit and so sweet), leche nuts, ugli fruit, passion fruit, dragon fruit and others I can’t remember as we’ve already eaten them.
What a lunch we had in the shade under some big trees hanging with Spanish moss.
It was 83 degrees (28 C) today so it was nice to have a bit of a breeze to keep it a little cooler.
I was thinking about all of you back home that are in the minus temperatures and snow but only for a moment when I was hot and thought it would be nice to make an angel in the snow.
It takes about an hour to get down to the Flamingo Visitor Center and there are lots of hiking trails, turnouts with ponds and lakes and canoe trails through the Everglades.
The canoe trails look really neat as you follow paths through the mangroves along a set route just like a hiking trail.
When you arrive at the centre you can see the damage that Hurricane Irma (2017) did.
The large pink building in front of us had been greatly damaged by the storm and it was only now they were in the process of rebuilding it.
Talking to the lady in the modified information centre she let us know about the flamingos and also where the spoonbills were.
The spoonbills were just arriving to nest but are still offshore so haven’t seen any yet. Fingers crossed.
At the centre, they have an inner harbour from the ocean with a boat launch and then a river flows in from the other end.
The first thing I spotted was an osprey hovering over the water fishing.
The second thing was manatees out in the harbour.
They would just show their noses and backs every once in a while as they feed along the bottom so I wasn’t able to get a really good picture of them.
But the osprey was very photogenic!
Not only were they fishing but they had a nest that was only 20 feet off the ground and it looked like they were sitting on eggs as when one bird left its mate came back to the nest and settled in.
We saw a crocodile basking in the sun (about 10 ft long) and learned that the difference between a crocodile and an alligator is that you can see the croc’s teeth when their mouth is closed.
I had my telephoto lens on so I could only get part of him in the picture.
There was a place you could rent kayaks, houseboats and do a boat tour.
But it was quite a windy day so we opted to stay on the shore.
As we were walking around there was a turkey vulture hanging about with some crows but as we got near it flew up to a lamp post.
Turkey vultures are very common here at this time of year and yesterday out on the Keys we saw huge kettles of them with 200+ vultures.
Further along, the park is a campground with a place to park motorhomes, tents and campers.
And… if you forget your sleeping arrangements or just want to stay down there without the hassle of bringing your house with you they have large tents set up with sturdy metal poles and a large tarp over them.
They are like a one-bedroom cottage and are set up with a queen bed, dresser, lights and a few other amenities.
I could have just laid down and listened to the waves lapping against the shore but alas… the tents all had a padlock on them.
It was starting to get on towards 4 pm by the time we started out of the park and the mosquitos were starting to set in.
Time to get out of the Everglades.
On the drive back we stopped and watched a Great egret hunting in the trees.
Which is to say he was walking along the verge but was looking up into the trees.
At one point he caught something and from my out of focus picture it looked like a frog, so maybe they were tree frogs.
It was the strangest behaviour I’ve seen a bird like that doing. Nature can so often surprise one.
We stopped at a couple of the ponds on the drive out but although I spotted an ibis it was too well hidden in the trees to get a picture.
Other bugs started to come out to the party like horseflies and something that had yellow stripes on it that was intent on taking a chunk out of me so back in the car we went and down the road.
Until we came to the next bird which was a snowy egret cooling off after a day in the sun.
While we were watching it from the car I saw another bird fly into a tree quite a distance away and after getting a shot for recording purposes discovered it was a Red-shouldered Hawk. Only the second one I’ve seen so that was a treat.
The last bird we saw was a great-blue heron right beside the road and so close I could have almost hit him by opening the car door but he was so intent on his fishing he took no notice of us.
By now it was getting on twilight so we did another quick stop at Robert Is Here and got a key lime milkshake and walked around their petting zoo.
As darkness settled over us, we got some chicken and salad and came back to the hotel to sup by the pool.
All in all, it was a lovely day out in the wilds of South Florida.
I keep meaning to mention these two handy travelling tips that I read about before I left home and wanted to pass them on as they work a treat.
I don’t know about you but it’s always nice to have a light on so you can see where the bathroom is at night or just to see where you are.
But normally we either leave the bathroom light on and close the door but in a lot of cases the fan is connected to the light switch and that can get noisy.
Tip #1 – carry a night light
It’s small, lightweight and perfect for those late-night trips. Gives off just the perfect amount of light without blinding yourself.
The biggest problem we’ve had is to remember to take it with us when we leave. But as of writing this, we still have the original.
Next… there have been many a night when sleeping in a hotel when the curtains won’t close completely and you can see light coming in through the blinds.
Sort of like a hospital gown that ties as the back and leaves a gap for all the world to see your business.
Have a look in the closet and pull off the hanger that has the clips on it to hang your pants.
Turn the hanger sideways and use the clips to unite one side of the curtain with the other and voila… no more gap or lights streaming in.