Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Adventure in the Everglades with Roger Hammer

If you're looking for a guide to show you the Everglades, I highly recommend Roger Hammer, a naturalist, botanist and author who my husband hired to take us on a tour of the park for my birthday late last year. Roger was a knowledgeable and entertaining guide. (Roger pictured left in background).

If there were modern-day pirates, Roger would be one. A Vietnam War Veteran with a long pony tail and a passion for orchids and rum, the self-described "Homestead Hippie" regaled us with wildlife tales from his decades of work in Florida's wilderness, (he once stabbed a python to death), while deftly pointing out the delicate Scented Ladies' Tresses blooming in the tall marsh grasses, one of 108 orchid species native to Florida.

During the course of six hours one morning we saw herons, egrets, palm warblers, belted kingfishers, hooded mergansers, anhingas, black and white warblers, a yellow-rumped warbler and a short-tailed hawk among many other species. We also saw lots of alligators and a few crocodiles.

The 30-mile tour started at the park's main entrance in Homestead, with stops at Royal Palm Hammock, where we saw anhingas and alligators; to Long Pine Key, where we saw an immature bald eagle; to Pa-Hay-Okee Overlook; to Mahogany Hammock; to Mrazek Pond; and the Flamingo visitor center. We traveled in Roger's van, and by foot.

We definitely look forward to our next nature adventure with Roger. He can be found online at He wrote A Falcon Guide to Everglades National Park and the Surrounding Area.

Alligator at Royal Palm Hammock, Everglades

Cormorant at Royal Palm Hammock, Everglades

Osprey at Flamingo Visitor Center, Everglades

American Anhinga at Royal Palm Hammock, Everglades. Note the bright blue ring around the eye, indicating that the bird is in mating season. Also known as a "snakebird."

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