Monday, April 13, 2009

Everglades, Day 2 - Day Paddle and Swamp Boardwalk

Friday, April 3 - We met our guides at the NPS Gulf Coast Visitor Center in Everglades City. The weather was very windy and the water was too choppy for beginner kayakers to attempt a 8-mile trip across the bay. So the guides decided that we would just do a day paddle trip and start our big trip tomorrow.

Our day-trip paddle included a treacherous trip along the side of a bay. But when we paddled inland, we were out of the wind and in a brackish mangrove forest. We were in long tandem kayaks so the maneuvering through the narrow, twisted tunnels was challenging yet fun. I did not hear or see many birds on this trip, perhaps because of the rough weather, and perhaps the mangroves do not provide much food source. We did hear one bird call that no one could identify, and I am currently going through my bird call audio files to try to find it. I used my point-and-shoot film camera for this trip, so I don't have any pictures to show you yet.

The second half of our extra day was spent at the Big Cypress Bend boardwalk, Fakahatchee Strand State Preserve (just outside of Everglades National Park). This was another classic wetland similar to Sweetwater Creek but with more plant and animal life diversity. We saw palm trees and shrubs, strangler figs, cypress, pines, etc. It was a birder’s paradise, with birds flying and calling everywhere, some close by, totally oblivious to all the people walking around. The highlight was a Bald Eagle’s nest with a chick in it. At the end of the boardwalk was a naturally-made water hole, formed by the gaters so they have water to soak in and raise their young during the dry season. These are rare now because the gaters use the man-made lakes and canals.

Some of the birds I saw at Big Cypress Bend Boardwalk:
  • Black-and-White Warbler (saw very close while feeding)
  • Common Yellowthroat (Warbler) at the water hole
  • Carolina Wren (building a nest in a palm)
  • Bald Eagle chick in nest
  • Red-Shouldered Hawk, S. Fl pale form
  • Great Blue Heron
  • Kingbird

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