"" Writer's Wanderings: Florida Everglades

Thursday, February 28, 2013

Florida Everglades

A trip to south Florida isn't complete without some time spent in Everglades National Park. Over 1.5 million acres in size, it is an important habitat for many rare and endangered species. Originally, water flowed freely, albeit very shallow water, from the Kissimmee River south to the Florida Bay which is just at the top of the Keys.

When development in Florida took its toll on the land in the early to mid 1900s, an area was set aside to conserve the natural landscape and prevent more damage to lands, plants and animals. In 1947 the Everglades National Park was established.

Today, there is still a threat to the eco system with further development based on Florida's popularity as a vacation or winter escape destination.

While we have visited the Everglades often on trips to Florida, this latest trip amazed us with what seems like a population explosion of vultures. At Palm Court, they line the Anhinga Trail we love to explore and hop out of the way as you walk through them. Need I mention they have a face only a mother could love. Worse, they have a taste for the rubber gasket that runs around the windshield, the wiper blades, and anything else vinyl and rubber on your vehicle. The park provides tarps that you can use to protect your vehicle. We didn't use a tarp but parked in the sun which works too, according to the sign.

Apparently the vultures are one of nature's "snow birds" migrating south to Florida for the winter which probably explains the increased population when we visited in February. I'm a little more familiar with the turkey vulture which, in our neck of the woods are called "buzzards" and signal the coming of spring with their return to Hinckley, OH, every March.

Once you realize the vultures aren't interested in you--after all, you are still alive and moving, their presence isn't a deterrent to enjoying the other flora and fauna along the Anhinga Trail which is mostly a boardwalk that runs through a section of the park. Along the way you'll see plenty of alligators and all sorts of other interesting and prettier birds, many who will put on a demonstration of their fishing skills.

We paused at several places long enough to see a wood stork and several cranes and herons of different sizes as they worked their way along the water's edge, wading and waiting and making a lunge to grab a tasty morsel of fish. All the while keeping an eye on their own predator, the alligator.

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