Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Animals on the Road, the Tamiami Trail, Big Cypress National Preserve

The amazing thing about the Everglades National Park/Big Cypress National Preserve area is that it is so abundant in wildlife that you don't even have to get out of your car, or leave the main road (Highway 41, a.k.a. the Tamiami Trail) that acts as a border between those two parks, to see lots of interesting animals. All of the pictures that I posted below were taken along the Tamiami Trail, a busy road with thousands of cars driving over 65 mph.

Along almost the full length of the Tamiami Trail there is a canal/river, which is home to thousands of alligators. There are so many of them that you might even see them from your car, especially if you’re traveling west (the canal is on the north side of the road), and/or have a high-suspension car. If you cannot see them from your car, just stop somewhere along the road, and I guarantee that within a few hundred meters you'll be able to spot an alligator or two. Alligators are commonly seen relaxing in the middle of the river, or on one of its banks.

An alligator in the river, Big Cypress National Preserve

An alligator on the river bank, Big Cypress National Preserve

The birds are even easier to spot than the alligators, as they have brighter coloring and usually can be found higher up, sitting on the crowns of trees and bushes. There are also probably more of them than alligators. Of the many birds that we saw along the Tamiami Trail, anhingas were my favorites. Those cute birds spend most of their time sitting on rocks or bushes with their wings wide-spread, which is quite a funny sight. Contrary to other water birds, anhingas’ (as well as cormorants’) feathers are not waterproof, which means that after every single contact with water those birds need to dry up their wings before they can fly anywhere.

Great Blue Heron, white variety

Great Blue Heron, young

Little Blue Heron

A flying White Egret

A flying stork, Big Cypress National Preserve

An anhinga, Big Cypress National Preserve

In Big Cypress National Preserve there is another scenic road, Janes Scenic Drive, that you could take if you prefer sightseeing by car. We didn't have much time to explore this drive, as it was already getting dark when we got there, but we were told that it is a nice one.

Janes Scenic Drive

A mangrove forest, Big Cypress National Preserve