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Florida Everglades With a Nerd

You may be a nerd if; You collect U.N.E.S.C.O World heritage Sites,

You own a Passport for the U.S. National Parks,

You ‘”bird.”  I do all three of these things.

Passport to the parks

Passport to the parks

For those of you who follow me, know that I “collect ” U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage Sites. I doubt I will ever get to all of them , but doing so is on my bucket list.

A U.N.E.S.C.O. World Heritage Site since 1979.   Important and unique to our turning globe.  To be fair, I only caught a glimpse of the awesomeness of this  park.  It holds so many opportunities for exploration that I absolutely have put this back on my list, and near the top.

I needed to leave Miami for an overnight to Texas.  This loss of sleep was an “opportunity” to gain perspective on 1.5 million acres from another viewpoint.  I couldn’t have planned that.

Perspective on 1.5 million acres

Perspective on 1.5 million acres

Caught an educational introduction to The Everglades by one of these great Rangers. Thanks!

Ranger talk

Ranger talk


bus mobile

Tram

This is not an air conditioned ride but has a seat with a view, unless you were in the middle, which I was.  **Look out for the peaceful, binocular, camera wearing Senior.  They are going to shove you to get their seat. **

close quarters.

close quarters.

Ranger guided informational 2 hour tram ride into the park.

Dry season

Dry season

One can visit the park via foot, bike, boat, guided tram, off site airboat.  All of these can be done with an expert tour guide. There are brochures for The Lonely Planet type.

Africa

I thought it was a swamp, but soon learned that this third largest National Park has a wet season and a dry season.  The Ranger said that this fact was the #1 misconception about The Everglades.

Right now (March 2015) it is the end of the dry season. Wet saw grass prairies, hardwoods, mangrove swamps, pinelands along with the Bay and Gulf estuaries make up the unique land.  I thought it reminded me of photos of Africa.  idk On that note, scientists are baffled about how certain species of plants ended up here.

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These photos show the dry grasses, with mounds of little “islands”  and areas of wet sloughs and mud.

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One of the many trails leading to the Shark Valley Observation Tower.

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There are actually crocodiles and alligators here.. In fact one at every turn. Little and the big ,bad and ugly.

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I learned crocodiles are secretive. Along with these long snouted, short legged lizards there are 27 species of snakes, I totally want to go camping there…NOT, maybe.

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400 species of birds are found here.  Even if you are not a birder, these fair feathered friends are pretty spectacular to watch.

Nature

Nature

I apologize for that you need to get up to get a magnifying glass. My point is that these birds are just hanging around in abundance, hidden in plain sight.

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This last photo is a great example of the grass areas that hold the different groups of birds, animals, reptiles….

Great Egret. This photo thanks to NPR

Great Egret. This photo thanks to NPR

The above photo is not my photo. THANKS to NPS you do not need a magnifying glass.

Not a birder? skip this part.  I saw anhingas (including lil ones in a nest), egrets, blue herons, white herons. wood stork, double breasted cormorants, red breasted hawks, vultures, greater and lesser yellow legs, tri-colored heron, white great egrets, white ibis, yellow crown night heron, american bittern. I know this only because the tour guide pointed them out and I wrote them down.  I am so not a nerd.

I learned a lot but I missed a lot.  I want to boat in the park.  I want to see even more wildlife and archaeology sites.  I would love to bike there and overall learn and see more in this unique spot.

Can’t get there, here is a link to the webcam

http://video-monitoring.com/everglades/royalpalm/

I give this place 5 MEGASTARS *****

MEGATIPS

1. If you have time, plan ahead.  As usual, I did not.

2. I got lucky, I drove up to The Shark Valley Visitor Center,  Rock Star style, I drove past the Parking Lot is Full Sign, and got one of two spots left.  Note that you can not show up on a few minutes before the tram leaves.  the parking lot is quite small.  You can park on the road and walk in.

3. If you are a day visitor go prepared with proper food,sunscreen, water etc…

4. Yes pythons are there but know that the Ranger who led my tour said that he  gets deep into this park and has only seen one in eight years.

5. Leave no trace.  This place is designated for a World Heritage Site for many reasons; endangered species, unique habitats and pre historic heritage.

To note, The aforementioned image posted is free, and may be used without a copyright release from the National Park Service, but must not be used to imply NPS endorsement without permission. Thank you!

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