Friday, March 6, 2009

Miami, Key West and the Everglades

We just returned from a fabulous three day trip on the East Coast of Florida with our friends, Mike and Mel.

On our first day we drove to Miami, walked on the beautiful sand of South Beach and had expensive Cuban food and exotic drinks at one of the sidewalk restaurants. The sites were great but the traffic was terrible.

After spending the night at Homestead Air Force Base, we drove south through the Keys.

We encountered this Ruddy Turnstone while walking on the beach at one of the State Parks along the way.

While walking the nature trail, two Magnificent Frigatebirds flew over. This one is an immature female with a white head and neck.

After arriving at Key West we ate Cheese-burgers in Paradise and drank the perfect Margaritas at Jimmy Buffets Margarita-ville Restaurant on Duval Street. This was number-one on Mel's list of must-do things - and it was a blast. I even bought a tee-shirt in the gift shop for the outrageous price of $36.

Mel enjoyed the sights (and margaritas) so much she joined the naked ladies and danced around the square!

These beautiful roosters freely roam the historic district. We heard them long before we saw them.

We ate a delicious seafood dinner at the Fish Tank on Marathon and drove back to the base for the night.

Early the next morning we headed to Everglades National Park.

My goal while driving through the Everglades was to see a Purple Gallinule. Our first stop in Everglades National Park was the Anhinga Trail where we walked a boardwalk through a sawgrass marsh and saw lots of alligators, turtles and the most beautiful birds - Herons, Anhingas, Egrets - and this Purple Gallinule!

He was spectacular! Just look at his huge feet! This helps him walk on plants like lily pads in the water.

I've never seen so many Green Herons in one place! We also saw quite a few Yellow and Black-crowned Night Herons - but I didn't get any good pictures.

The Great Egret is always beautiful - one of my favorite birds.

This is a Double-crested Cormorant. You can just barely see the double crests on his head. Look at the colors in his feathers! Usually, they just look plain black.

I'm not sure I've ever seen a Great Blue Heron sitting down!

I love this picture of the Great Blue Heron looking over the clear water and lily pads.

The trail was named for the Anhinga, shown here drying his wings.

In the trees we were able to see lots of nesting Anhingas. Look closely and you can see the adorable fluffy babies.

Further down the road we saw a rookery with hundreds of endangered Wood Storks. You could see the fluffy cotton ball babies with binoculars - but I couldn't get close enough for a good picture.
We also saw a Greater Flamingo fly overhead and lots of Roseate Spoonbills. This time of year the Spoonbills are a much brighter pink than earlier in the winter.

Black-necked Stilts have extremely long pink legs - way out of proportion to the rest of their body. We saw them as we walked around Eco Pond.

These, of course, are alligators. They are everywhere in the Everglades.

There are less than 1000 of the critically endangered American Crocodiles left in the United States and we were fortunate to see four in Flamingo at the southern most point of Everglades National Park. They look much different from the alligators - lighter in color with different textured hides. But the most difference is on the head and the way the jaws come together.

I can't wait to return to the Park. It was a priviledge to see!

1 comment:

QuilterB said...

Wow, you certainly added to your bird list for this trip!! Beautiful pictures!