After four days in Disney World, fun as that was, I was in the mood for quiet open spaces and nature. Fortunately the Florida Everglades are nearby and offer vast stretches of water, grass and mangroves, and are filled with refreshingly non-anthropomorphised animals.
A boat tour of the Ten Thousand Islands (an archipelago off the extreme south-western coast) afforded the opportunity to see many creatures close-up. A nesting osprey.
There were a couple of furry chick heads poking out of the nest. Sadly the sign reminds me that the one creature I was most keen to see on this trip, the manatee, was the one we didn’t spot. We ran out of time on our few days passing through this area. But we did see other aquatic mammals: bottlenose dolphins, for example.
Oh, and these things. Can’t remember what they’re called, but they’re pretty common around these parts.
The mangroves themselves are pretty interesting. Tannins from the mangrove turn the water a deep tea-brown, but the water is actually very clean as it’s constantly filtered by the many oysters living there.
We took an airboat trip through the winding alleyways. Not sure to what extent these are artificial or natural: some of them are very straight.
We encountered a pair of raccoons who were obviously very used to human contact.
We did another boat tour over the ‘river of grass’. I didn’t realise until I was looking at the photos at home afterwards that I’d captured an airboat passing by at the top right of the picture.
A walk around the pond near the Ernest Coe visitor centre on the eastern side of the park, just south of Miami.
Saw our first turtle here. I don’t know whether to be disappointed or relieved that we didn’t get a closer look at the alligator snapping turtle.
Great Blue Heron. Seconds after I took this shot and lowered my camera it jerked its head forward, speared a passing fish with its beak, and stalked off into the bush to enjoy its meal.
Florida also has moss. Spanish moss. Although it’s technically not a moss at all. It’s just moss-querading.
“Spanish moss has been used for various purposes, including building insulation, mulch, packing material, mattress stuffing, and fiber. In the early 1900s it was used commercially in the padding of car seats. In the desert regions of the southwestern United States, dried Spanish moss plants are used in the manufacture of evaporative coolers, colloquially known as swamp coolers. These are used to cool homes and offices much less expensively than using air conditioners. A pump squirts water onto a pad made of Spanish moss plants. A fan then pulls air through the pad and into the building. Evaporation of the water on the pads serves to reduce the air temperature, thus cooling the building” [wikipedia]
This large mural was on display in the aforementioned visitors’ centre and I’d love to have bought a poster of it.