Friday, January 24, 2020

1/23 Midway Campground, Big Cypress Reserve

Midway Campground is truly in the middle of nowhere.  It is literally "midway" between Miami and Naples on the Tamiami Trail, or U.S. 41.  There is electricity at sites, with a water fill and a dump station, and sites are paved with a paved roadway, but that is about it as far as amenities go.

However, the isolation makes this an extremely quiet place, with very dark skies.  I came in after dark, but this is how the approach looks in the daytime.  No lights marking this place after dark, by the way, so it is very hard to find.  And if I had not been here several times before, I never could have found the entrance or the water fill station.  As it was, I needed help backing into my site, but found a couple of people with flashlights wandering around who helped me out. 


The campground is far away enough from the highway that you don't hear traffic even during the day.  There is very little traffic at night anyway. 

The camp hosts said this pond is supposed to be 40' deep.  It was probably dug out to get some rock and sand to build something.  Such pits are called "borrow" pits because the contents are borrowed for construction.   And notice how clear the water is.  Never let anyone tell you that a swamp has dirty water in it!  Any swamp I have seen has always contained crystal clear water. 

Notice the trees behind my motorhome are missing their leaves.  These are bald cypress and indicative of very soggy land.  Sites also have cement patios and picnic tables which are chained down, which is silly because they are made of something very, very heavy and can't be moved anyway.  

Each campsite gets a personal palm tree, which is a bonus.  And the grass is nicely mowed.  The ground opposite the campsites is very hard, so you can easily drive on it when backing into a site or leaving.  

This sign was just across from my campsite. 

And here is the culprit.  I am used to being able to bird-watch from campsites, but this is the first time I can alligator-watch from inside my motorhome.  I saw someone else taking photos along the pond, so I ran out to catch this guy.  He or she was about 6' long, but thin, so I assume it was a fairly young alligator.  The camp hosts said they had only seen one alligator so maybe this one has the whole pond to himself or herself.

 Oasis Visitor Center

The Oasis Visitor Center is three miles west of the campground.  It is right along Tamiami Trail and one of the best free places to view alligators in Florida.  I have never stopped by there without seeing at least a dozen adult alligators.

The visitor center is on the right and there is a boardwalk that runs along the enlarged ditch that goes along the highway.  It is popular with big alligators and birds because it also is full of big and little fish. 

A lot of tour buses and travelers stop here for the rest rooms and to get information, but the boardwalk is a bonus. 

This anhinga had caught a fish and was having problems getting it into the correct head-first position to swallow it.  He was also hitting it repeatedly against the rock. The problem was a large white heron waiting for it to drop it so it could steal the fish. Below is a still photo, but click here to see a video of the anhinga hitting the fish against the rock, I assume to kill it????

This anhinga was drying its wings.  It is not a duck and so does not have oiled wings.  While swimming, its wings get soaked so it has to dry them out before it can fly.

I think this is a black-crowned night heron, though it seems darker than most.

The breeding plumage on this great blue heron is impressive.  

This is a young, slim alligator similar to the one swimming in the campground pond. 

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