Our trip to “The Glades” was short this year and we stayed at the smaller Long Pine Campground rather than Flamingo like last year. The park provides no power or water hookups but has more vegetation, trees and private campsites along winding paved roads. The cost is only $16.00 per night and the biking, hiking, pond- life viewing and Park Ranger talks are all at hand. We arrived during a heat wave and humid temperatures were in the high 80’s.
We ventured twice to our favourite Anhinga Nature Trail at Royal Palm. Boardwalks take nature lovers out over the marsh beside deep pools of water and Mangroves that are host to gators, many species of water birds, fish, turtles,snakes and unusual plant forms. We saw a number of turtles very close-up, fish preparing their nests on the stream beds, numerous alligators of all sizes and great views of the feathered inhabitants.
Some gators were sleeping as reptiles do, soaking up the sun while others swam toward us to have their photo sessions. We were observing a pair of turtles when a gigantic splash riveted our attention on a huge ten foot alligator who swam at Olympic gold speed after a smaller six foot gator. The chase ensued with great speed and drama ending with the smaller one coming out of the water and hiding behind some foliage. We did not learn whether that was a territorial or romantic confrontation but were thrilled to have been there at that particular moment! As well as watching the gators, we could hear their constant low barking sounds as they communicated to each other. There are literally hundreds of these ancient-looking beasts in the Everglades.
We ventured in to many of the smaller pond and lake trails where we spotted different birds and more gators.
The salt waters of the Gulf , the marina and canal were rich with wildlife. Crocodiles are plentiful in this area as they prefer seawater. Other differences between crocs and alligators is that they are lighter in colour, they are more aggressive, their heads are more v-shaped and when their mouth is closed their 4th tooth sticks out. Crocodiles are found all over the world whereas alligators are only in the US and China.
There are many nesting boxes which have been installed around the Everglades where the Ospreys build their nests. Many States and Provinces build these platforms near waterways and have helped bring back the Osprey which were once endangered. There was one near the Flamingo Visitor’s Centre that was amazingly close to the marina docks. Just ten feet above our heads was a female and two chicks. She squawked at anyone who came close to the base of “her”pedestal and went into a full open-winged attack stance when she saw Dixie. As we stood at a distance snapping images, the male flew in with a fish! The family had a few nibbles and Dad left with his catch to dine on a nearby pole. What an exciting experience to see at such close proximity!
Next we watched a manatee swim near the water’s surface, roll over and come up for air. As we watched her lolling about we noticed another form following her. Wow, a baby was swimming alongside! They move slowly and we were able to watch their primitive dance for a long time. Since they don’t really show themselves above water, the pictures just give an impression of their presence.
See ya later Alligator……..
……. In awhile Crocodile!