Paradise Withdrawal


As if it were not bad enough (from the point of view of the audience) that Florida will be experiencing highs of 84 degrees or so, I'm presently suffering from vacation withdrawal.

I spent much of the time after Christmas in Southern Florida exploring the beaches and Everglades.

A catalog:

An osprey nest and perched osprey, cattle egrets, snowy egrets, great blue heron, tri-color heron, yellow-crested night heron, royal terns, pilated woodpecker, red-bellied woodpecker, wood storks, green heron, little blue heron, dolphins and alligators galore.

That's just a start. In the course of the trip we visited the Everglades twice--once at each major southwestern/southcentral entrance.

The Gulf Coast entrance is just south of Everglades City near or on the causeway to Chokoloskee. I've passed by it before but never given it much consideration because I couldn't figure out how one actually got to the Everglades from it. Well, the reality is that this entrance allows the visitor to engage one of the ecotomes of the Everglades--the mangrove and estuarine environment. The main activities are kayaking and canoeing along a "wilderness trail" of waterways that the uninitiated are well advised to leave alone. It is not for lack of reason that this area of Florida is called "The Ten-Thousand Islands."

What we elected to do was take the boat ride out toward the gulf. On the way out we travelled through a shallow channel dredged in the limestone sponge that constitutes the state of Florida. There were channel marker signs all of which were populated by Royal Terns. These are black-headed tufted terns with bright orange-yellow bills. They sit almost always with bills pointed into the wind.

Among the thousands of mangrove islands we saw what seemed like hundreds of different types of birds including Bald Eagles and any number of herons, egrets, anhingas, cormorants, and wading birds galore.

The height of this trip, however, was the dolphins. We passed five or six different groups numbering from two to seven. The group of seven, persuaded by the seductive wake of the boat we were in, trailed along for several miles. The mother dolphin had a young dolphin with her that she kept steering into the relative ease of the boat wake. They jumped, played, rolled, and did any number of other things you can see at innumerable dolphin shows. In short, magnificent beyond the capacity of this hastily composed prose to convey.

For now, this must be it. I hope to write a bit later about the beaches and the Shark Valley entrance to the Everglades. In the meantime, may the winter, wherever you are be a little brighter and more pleasant today.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on January 5, 2007 8:36 AM.

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