Everglades Update

We were in the Flamingo campground of Everglades National Park for Christmas. We had made our reservations in August, but when the federal government shut down we were concerned, so we called them. Turns out there were no rangers, so nobody was collecting the $25 park entrance fee (we had already paid the campground fee), but the gates were not locked and their concessionaires were manning the visitor center and keeping the facilities functional. This is considered the busy season for this park and they get a lot of international visitors (who were predominantly Chinese on this trip).

The first day we went canoeing to Snake Bight, which is the bay to the left as you paddle out the channel. We followed that small unmarked channel along the shoreline as far as it would go – technically further, because for the last half of our route the water depth was probably about an inch less than our draft. It is really soft mud in that section, which cut our cruising speed to below two miles an hour. It was an incoming tide; otherwise one would have to be careful not to get stuck. If you tried to get out of the canoe you would sink up to your knees, so if you did get stuck you would have to wait for the next high tide, which could be up to twelve hours later. We did see, and get pictures of a number of birds feeding on the flats, including plenty of roseate spoonbills (sorry, no flamingos this time). Below is a picture of Nancy at work. As you can see, the “channel” is to our right and the mud to the left. Ahead is a flock of white pelicans. This channel would peter out just a little ways ahead – still a little too far away to get good pelican shots.

Fate Of The Osprey Nest

The osprey nest that was the subject of Nancy’s current favorite image, Osprey Family, is gone. The whole snag was blown over during Hurricane Irma fifteen months ago.

“Osprey Family” Is Our Newest Image

An osprey brings a fish back to the nest as the other parent tries to feed three chicks.
An osprey brings a fish back to the nest as the other parent tries to feed three chicks.

We are very proud of our newest addition. We finished it last Thursday, the day before the John’s Pass Seafood Festival, and didn’t get into our campsite at Fort De Soto Park in Saint Petersburg until after midnight Friday morning because we were delayed in leaving Miami until this picture was finished.

We were on a trip to Everglades National Park in the spring to check out reports of great horned owl chicks in the parking lot of the Coe Visitor Center, but then we went on to Flamingo and discovered a few osprey nests also. This one was in a short snag right in the parking lot next to the campground. From the ground we could barely see the top of the chick’s heads, so Nancy balanced on our canoe on top of the van to get a better perspective. She was taking pictures of the one parent and chicks when out of the corner of her eye she saw the other parent approaching. She didn’t have time to zoom out and recompose the shot; she just swung around and captured the bird, with fish, as it was about to land.

Needless to say, this is a composite. In one photograph we had a close-up of one parent feeding its chicks on the top of the nest. The next photograph show the flying osprey and the left part of the nest. Still another photograph shows the lower portions of the nest. The camera was hand-held and the images had to be hand-“stitched”. This was our most difficult image so far. Had Nancy had time to zoom out to get the whole scene at once, the image wouldn’t have had the resolution it does.