Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Osprey in the Everglades, but no Flamingos to be Found

Recently my husband and I visited Everglades National Park, about an hour from our house, where we hoped to see a few of Florida’s famous pink flamingos. As it turns out the rare bird can be difficult to spot at the park and we couldn't find one. But we had a wonderful day nevertheless with sightings of some 32 species, including a loggerhead shrike (photo upper left) several ospreys (photo lower left), as well as a great crested flycatcher and a prairie warbler, two new species to add to my life list. We started the day early by joining one of the regular free birdwatching tours offered by the park rangers. We walked around the Flamingo Visitor Center's parking lot and along the road leading to the campground, where we saw tree swallows, a roseate spoonbill, American kestrel and other species.

Later in the day we went canoeing for three hours on the Florida Bay, launching from the Flamingo Visitor Center. As we calmly paddled close to the shoreline, graceful little blue herons swooped from the mangroves, egrets fluttered about like white angels, and a kingfisher darted this way and that playfully ahead of our canoe.

My favorite part of the trip was our visit to Eco Pond, where we saw an elderly couple watching two red-shouldered hawks doing a dance on a high dead branch, before we headed around the bend on our own. For a splendid hour, it was just the two of us, the wildlife and the soft wind blowing across the vast river of grass. As we trudged through a muddy patch of grass and pickleweed, we were richly rewarded with the site of two American avocets in the distance. We stood silently for a while observing the two black and white shore birds dip their long slender bills into a small pond, as several red-shouldered hawks shrieked overhead in the bright blue sky.

A great day!

If you want to check out the free guided tours at Everglades National Park, check out their schedule of events here:

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