Everglades National Park
January, 2001

SMILE

Needless to say we saw lots of alligators.  We were here five years ago and the water level was near it's maximum height.  At that time we learned that when the water is high the alligators are spread throughout the glades.  It's then that you're more likely to see them in their true native habitat.  We didn't see too many on that trip.

But this time the water was low.  The alligators, fish, birds, turtles and other animals all gather in and around the deeper water holes.  One of the best places for animal watching is the Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park.  Here, there must have been two hundred gators, several thousand birds, lots of fish and dozens of turtles. 


At first it took some getting used to walking amongst the alligators.  The first afternoon we visited the Anhinga Trail I wondered why all of the alligators were on one side of the path.
The next morning, Mitch and I went over to this spot again to see what the early morning activity was like.  We saw that the alligators were actively swimming around and many were climbing out of the water next to the path.  (The path is the main walkway for park visitors -- human visitors that is.)  Did you know that an alligator can run 15 MPH?  The signs say to stay at least 15 feet away from them.  15 feet just doesn't seem like enough of a head start for an animal that can run 15 MPH when I can only run about 10 MPH.
We saw alligators upon alligator.  We even saw an alligator sleeping alongside of turtles.  Alligators love to eat turtles.  (Apparently a turtle can tell a hungry gator from a full gator.)
This gator looked like he was either out to pick a fight or find a mate.  It was early morning and he/she was swimming fast towards two other gators.  Those two took off in different directions and the first one swam around in a large circle, cutting off their paths back. This continued until all of the gators were out of the area and then he swam up to the shore, climbed out of the water and just laid there.
"Hey look Mitch, there are some pretty yellow flowers for Mom by the water.  Why don't you go down and pick a few."
We pulled in one evening to take another look at the gators and found Heckle and Jeckle in a convertible BMW.
We scared the birds off and thought about trying to put the car's top up.  We didn't know whether we should do this on our own, so we walked along the Anhinga Trail asking any "Beemer-type" couples if they owned the car.  We didn't find the owners, but we did find a couple that had a red Audi convertible that was parked close by.  They hurried back to check their car and put up the top.

We eventually did find the owners of the BMW as we were all leaving at closing time.  Unfortunately, it was an hour later and by then the plush sheep skin covers had a definite "swiss cheese" appearance.  They told us that they'd just bought the new seat covers and questioned if leaving the convertible top down was safe.  They decided that no one would go to the trouble of stealing the covers since they weren't very easy to get off.  They hadn't anticipated the wildlife in the area.

These crows ended up with a truely up-scale Miami nest for this season.


BIRDS

A rare endangered white stork

Three babies yapping for some food

A very brilliantly colored bird
(Maybe I should get a better camera)

About to eat a fish -- gulp, gulp.

Mitch reaching out to a Heron

Hanging around. Notice the gator's snout in the water.
He sneaked up slowly. We thought it might be breakfast time.
A face only his mother could love.  (A Turkey Vulture -- one of the most common birds we saw in Florida.)

 
 
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