It’s interesting how unplanned events somehow fall into place in the general scheme of things, and our visit to Shark Valley was no exception. We’d planned on exploring the 15-mile tram road at 4 p.m. in order to catch the wildlife returning to their roosts and illuminated by the warm light of sunset. An early arrival at 11 a.m. was planned in order to obtain tickets for the tram (as we’d been unable to make reservations on the phone). To our surprise, there was as backlog of a dozen or more cars waiting to get into the parking lot, and we soon learned there’s a direct correlation between tram rides and available parking spaces.
Shortly after one of the trams emptied its cargo, spaces became available as most visitors apparently ride the tram and split. So what to do in the interim? As we had no intention of leaving—one idea was to visit the local Muckasukee reservation and take a 30-minute airboat ride but, with the likelihood of again waiting in a queue upon our return, that plan was squashed. Sooney and I actually relieved since we weren’t really interested anyway—I associate airboats with snow mobiles and jet skis, and their recreational value is debatable.
As it turned out, the resulting afternoon was thoroughly fulfilling and we walked the first mile of the tram road (wishing we had bicycles). There was so much wildlife to admire, and one trail led us into a hardwood hammock that was a bit cooler than walking on the concrete road. That walk, combined with a ranger-led stroll through the vegetation and another on wading birds amply filled the afternoon and off we went, into the sunset, for a lovely finish to our visit to Everglades National Park.
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Sightings for Feb. 21
Shark Valley, Everglades National Park (Off the Tamiami Trail)
<Purple Gallinule>, Common Moorhens, Anhingas, Little Blues, Great Blue Herons, Snowy and Great Egrets, Green Herons, Tricolored Herons, flocks of both Glossy and White Ibis, <American Bittern>, Greater Yellowlegs, Roseate Spoonbills, Pied-billed Grebes, Eastern Phoebe, Red-shouldered Hawk,Yellow-crowned Night Herons, Boat-tailed Grackles, Northern Parula, <Ovenbird>, Catbirds
Alligators by the dozen
First time sightings: 3
Total: 54 new life sightings during the 2-weeks in southern Florida