Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Everglades National Park and Homestead

Little Blue Heron

We left Chokoloskee Island and headed east along Alligator Alley (Highway 41) through the north edge of the Everglades National Park.  We stopped at a wayside and found quite a few herons and egrets fishing in the canals.
Black-crowned Night-heron

Immature Black-crowned Night-heron swimming for abundant fish

Ever present alligators along Alligator Alley

We stopped at Shark Valley and took the tram tour and it's one stop at this tower. You can see for miles in all directions across the River of Grass with it's Hammocks of trees scattered throughout.

Green Heron

Alligator Gar Fish

Papa Anhinga with 2 chicks

Papa feeding chicks

Limpkin feeds on Apple Snail

Double-crested Cormorant finds lunch

How wide can that mouth open?

Large downy Anhinga chicks

Spatterdock walking Purple Gallinule

Cardinal Air Plant

Blue Dasher

Boardleaf White-top Sedge

Northern Parula

Queen Butterfly

Painted Bunting Pair

Black & White Warbler

We are staying at Goldcoaster RV Park in Homestead, Florida and no matter how urban the area is, it's possible to find birds.  These birds are from the Park edges and the city park across the street.
Beautiful? Muscovy Duck

Ovenbird and Gray Catbird winter residents

Common Myna

We are really close to the main entrance of the National Park, so we made another trip covering from Mahogany Hammock to Flamingo.   This is where we started to see the damage from Hurricane Irma.  Many miles of Mangrove look like they have died.  The naturalists aren't sure why, possibly from the salt water covering the land for too long a time.
Roseate Spoonbills nest at Paurotis Lake

Hurricane damaged the boardwalk and killed the mangroves

American Crocodile likes the brackish water at Flamingo Marina 

Manatee scraping algae off dock

Monk Parakeet

One day we drove north to Kendall, looking for some of the specialty bird species in this area. 
Spot-breasted Oriole, surprise of the day!!

White-crowned Pigeon at Barnes Park

Next area of exploration will be the Florida Keys.

Love & Prayers,
Ty & Ida Baumann

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Chokoloskee Island, SW Florida

On January 31st was the Super Blue Blood Moon with a partial Lunar Eclipse - the Trifecta.  Last seen in 1866.   Thankfully the sky was clear and a perfect view from the dike of Lake Okeechobee.

Anhinga with nuptial blue eye

Brown Anole

On February 1st, we traveled southwest to Chokoloskee Island just south of Everglades City on the west end of Everglades National Park.  This area was hit extremely hard by Hurricane Irma with an eight foot storm surge, covering most of the island in muddy water.  All RV's were totaled at the Outdoor RV Resort where we are staying.  Amazingly, the clean-up has been great and you would hardly know that it had happened.  The other amazing thing is the resilience  of the plants, birds and animals that made it through the storm with over 130 mile an hour winds.  There is still damage to be fixed but in the five months since the storm, people have gotten together to put things right.

Royal Tern

One of the best birding areas was the very small Smallwood/Hancock cemetery with beautiful Gumbo Limbo Trees.  Here we found most of the songbirds that winter here.
Blue-headed Vireo

Brown-crested Flycatcher
Note all dark bill and light breast which separates it from the Great-Crested
Call is different too.

Gray Catbirds were everywhere

Great Horned Owl
The pair usurped an Osprey nest near this palm

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker drilling a Palm

Eurasian Collared Dove pair being serenaded by N. Mockingbird with moon behind

Purple Martins arrived on Groundhog Day -Spring has arrived here

Bella Moth

Mangrove Fox Squirrel, must have hung on tight for Irma

Northern Mockingbird finds a large Sphinx Moth Caterpillar 

One day we traveled to the Fakahatchee Strand boardwalk, Bald Eagles and Red-shouldered Hawks greeted us with their calls.  Yellow-rumped Warblers were in great supply and many were getting their nuptial plumage.
Gambusia/ Mosquitofish - 3-4" long, by the hundreds

Banded Water Snake suns at Fakahatchee

Many of the people here on the island are avid fishermen,  each day as they clean the fish, they throw the scraps to the waiting Brown Pelicans.  Quite a food fight!!
White-crowned Pigeon
South Florida specialty 

Am. Kestrel dries off the morning dew

Guess what?  Another Bald Eagle, this one right by our RV park

Curly-tailed Lizard

People here on the island got to know us and that Ty was taking photos of the birds.  It was suggested that we write an article about our birding adventure for the local newspaper called the Mullet Rapper.  We submitted our tale with our list of 56 birds seen in our 10 days on Chokoloskee Island.

Common Ground Dove does a high wire act

Eurasian Collared Doves are abundant on the island

Tomorrow morning at sunrise, we head east to Homestead, hoping to explore the eastern end of Everglades National Park, Kendall, and Biscayne Bay.  Always looking for what God has in store for us next.
Love & Prayers,  Ty & Ida Baumann