"" Writer's Wanderings: Spring Has Arrived In The Everglades!

Friday, February 25, 2011

Spring Has Arrived In The Everglades!

Have you ever seen a frisky alligator? Seems like an oxymoron. But spring has arrived early in the Everglades in Southern Florida. We have been to the park several times over the years we have visited Florida. Never have we seen the activity of its inhabitants at such a high level.

On our walk along the Anhinga Trail at the Royal Palm center, we encounter countless birds of all kinds including the anhinga, herons, ibis, vultures, and others I didn't recognize. Many of the birds were nesting and had little ones in the nest--some to the "teenage" stage.

We stood for a long time and watched a large blue heron as he fished. Even though we were within 30-40 feet of him it didn't seem to distract him as he stood motionless, his eye trained on his dinner. In amazement, we saw him shift his body without moving his head even a fraction of an inch. Suddenly he plunged his head into the water and came up with a fish that was about 10 inches long. Deftly he maneuvered it in his beak as the fish flopped around trying desperately to avoid its obvious fate. Then he tilted his head back and swallowed it whole! We couldn't believe that is actually fit down his long throat and that he didn't dance around with the fish now flopping in his belly. It had to at least tickle.

A little closer to the boardwalk on the trail, we paused to watch a couple of vultures that seemed to be teasing an alligator. There were several out sunning themselves and one of them was "smiling." Every time a vulture took a few steps closer to him he smiled broader. The vulture would back up a bit--a little wary of getting too close. We observed for a while but then decided we'd better move on. We weren't too sure the grandkids needed to see the alligator dining on the bird.

Out on the boardwalk we watched alligators moving in and out of the water. Sunning for a while then swimming again. Kind of reminded me of the pool area back at our condo. Then I heard what sounded almost like a motor boat cutting through the water. When I finally zeroed in on where the sound came from, I saw two alligators booking through the water as fast as a small motor boat would.

Apparently this is the beginning of the mating season for the alligators and there is all sorts of activity going on including fights between the males over the females.

This was without a doubt the best outing we've had in the Everglades. There were no mosquitoes to speak of, the weather was cool in the shade-warm in the sun, and certainly the show put on by the wild life was outstanding.

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