Monday, February 20, 2017

2/18 Shark Valley Loop Again

Yup, I return to a lot of places more than once.  This area is one of my favorites because it has a 15 mile paved bike trail where you can be alone in the river of grass--even if only for a few minutes until a tram or other bikers come by.  Otherwise, it is just you, the alligators, and the birds.  AND, if you have a senior pass and bring your own bike, it is free.  Can't beat that. 

So, this time it was especially fun because my younger cousin who lives in Florida met me here.  She had never been here, while I have been here at least 6 or 7 times. 

I actually have five cousins who live in Florida with their families, and I doubt if any of them have ever been here.  Wow!  You Florida folks are missing some of the best places in your state, so get out there!!!  Shark Valley is part of Everglades National Park, so it requires a pass, and if you are at least 62, you can get one for $10 that is good for your entire lifetime--much better deal than Disney! 

Here is my cousin taking some photos of alligators at the beginning of the western part of the loop.

The rest of the photos today will be birds and alligators.  One of the best parts of this loop is that you can get so close to all of the wildlife.  This is a black-capped night heron.

This one is a real puzzle.  It looks maybe like a juvenile something--maybe a black-capped night heron? If not, it might be a blue heron with its neck tucked in.

I counted about a dozen baby alligators, but they are so curled up together, there could be more.  Mama was about 6 feet long, and hanging around a few feet away.  Alligators are excellent mothers and guard their babies for several months or until they get big enough to not be such an easy snack for birds and male alligators.

Another mystery bird.  Wish they would pose better.

Nice, empty road!

One of the many alligators warming up in the sun right next to the bike trail.  We easily saw 40-50 alligators this day even though I took photos of only a few.

Mixed flock of birds.  The small ones are ibises and the bigger ones are word storks.

Close-up of the ibis and wood storks.

Black asphalt is warmer than green grass.

At the far end of the loop, there is an observation tower, with a terrific view of the road we came up on. 

Here comes the tram!!  It's a good alternative for people who cannot ride bikes.  You also get a running commentary on the ride.

Lots of alligators sunning themselves below the tower.

Another mystery bird.

Looking south into the heart of the Everglades.

Tomorrow I start heading north, very slowly, to Michigan and Ohio, arriving by Easter.  In early May, I will be heading west and will probably be staying there for at least the next couple of years. However, I will miss this place and all the other critter places in Florida.

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