Everglades National Park, Day 5 – Tuesday – February 12, 2013

Day 5 – Sunrise, Eco Pond, Tree Walk  

Since we arrived at Flamingo, it has been quite windy.  Actually, that’s a GOOD thing!!  When the wind is up, the bugs are down;o))  So we have been bug free since we arrived.  But there are comprises to be made.  As much as we would like to kayak some of the open water of Florida Bay, the winds are too strong for that.  So today, we decided do the 2 hour Tree Walk with the ranger.  But first, there is the Sunrise to see and a visit to Eco Pond!!  

Nancy went alone to see the sunrise and check on things at Eco Pond today. 

I was being a bit lazy…my bad;o(( 
Looks like I missed a beautiful sunrise!!
First Bit of Daylight                                                   Ibis Beginning Their Day01 - pre-sunrise  02 - Ibis starting their day

First Peek of the Sun                                                                Getting Brighter 03 - Almost Sunrise 04 - Little more Sunrise 

WOW… What a BEAUTIFUL View!!!05 -  Sunrise

The Walk-in Tent Area sure does have the best views in the campground!!!

Perhaps you remember how hard Nancy tried to get a good picture of an American Kestrel when we were at Jonathan Dickinson State Park.  Today, as she headed from viewing the sunrise toward Eco Pond, she saw a Kestrel high in a dead tree on the side of the road.

The American Kestrel is North America’s littlest falcon.

It is roughly the size and shape of a Mourning Dove and hunts for insects and other small prey.06c - American Kestrel 06d - American Kestrel

The rising sunlight sure made for a great photo!!

Nancy could see that it had something in its right claw??06 - American Kestrel and froggy breakfast 

Well alrighty…. frog legs for breakfast!!! 06b - American Kestrel froglegs for breakfast


Eco Pond was much quieter than usual.  Not many birds or birders!!!

But there is always something to see:o))

Momma Osprey and her chick08 - Eco Pond - Osprey Nest with Mom and Chick


Red-bellied Woodpecker
08h - Eco Pond - Red-Bellied Woodpecker

Tricolored Heron                                                          Wood Stork08c - Eco Pond - Tri-Colored Heron 08f - Eco Pond - Wood Stork

White Pelicans
08e - Eco Pond - White Pelicans


A new bird to us – Black Necked Stilt
08d - Eco Pond - Black Necked Stilt


The Tree Walk with the ranger was at 2 o’clock.  Since I had been basically lazy all morning, we decided to ride over to the visitor center a little early and see what we could see before the walk began.

We headed down the Guy Bradley Trail toward the Visitor Center and Marina.09 - Guy Bradley Path - Riding to Tree Walk and marina

We didn’t get very far before we saw an Osprey enjoying his lunch and another circling overhead!!
09a - Guy Bradley Path - Osprey with afternoon snack  09b - Guy Bradley Path - Osprey Soaring


A little further along the trail we saw another hawk. 

We think it is a young Red Shoulder Hawk, but we are not sure.
09c - Guy Bradley Path - Young Red Shoulder Hawk09c2 - Guy Bradley Path - Young Red Shoulder Hawk

Over at the Marina, a Little Blue Heron was getting a bit wind blown.09d3 - Marina - Little Blue Heron


Of course we had to check the favorite sunning spot of the Crocodiles.

Yep, there were two of them just taking a little snooze;o))
09d - Marina - Crocodiles 09d2 - Marina - Crocodiles Closeup


We locked our bikes at the visitor center and met the ranger who would lead the Tree Walk.

We headed first to the Guy Bradley Trail where we learned about Mangroves.

10 - Tree Walk - mangrove poster

Red Mangroves have the branching roots.
10 - Tree Walk - mangrove poster Red Mangrove

Black Mangroves are very dark and have pencils (pneumatophores) sticking up all around them.10 - Tree Walk - mangrove poster Black Mangrove10 - Tree Walk - mangrove poster Black Mangrove breathing tubes

I love the name of this vine – Knickerbean:o))10 - Tree Walk - nickerbean vine 

We also saw Wild Papayas along the trail!!
10a - Wild Papaya10a - Tree Walk - Wild Papaya


Next we headed toward the parking lot.  There are two predominant trees here.

First, the West Indian Mahogany
10c - Tree Walk - Mahogany Tree Sign

These are magnificent trees that remind me of Live Oaks in South Carolina. 10d - Tree Walk - Mahogany Tree

Mahogany Seed Pod and a Mahogany Seed
10a1 - Tree Walk - Mahogany Nuts10b - Tree Walk - Mahogany Seed

The other tree has the coolest name: Gumbo-Limbo10e - Tree Walk - Gumbo Limbo Plaque

These unique trees stand out with their reddish bark.10e1 - Tree Walk - Gumbo Limbo

We had heard about Strangler Figs and probably had seen one before but just didn’t know what we were looking at. Here is a picture of a Strangler Fig that has completely engulfed a Palm Tree.  Can you see the Palm there in the middle??10f2 - Tree Walk - Stangler Fig

The Ranger explained that birds eat the small figs produced by the Strangler Fig and then deposit the seeds high in the host tree.  In this case the Palm Tree.  The roots grow down and use the host tree for support until they reach the ground.  The Strangler Fig does not kill the host tree!!
10f - Tree Walk - Stangler Fig10f3 - Tree Walk - Huge Stangler Fig

We ended our walk near Florida Bay and this lovely Sea Grape Tree!!10i - Tree Walk - Sea Grape
The Tree Walk was well worth the time. We were familiar with the Topical Palm Trees but it was so interesting to learn about the other trees that make up this beautiful tropical landscape!!


  1. Fantastic pictures! I am really enjoying these. Looks like you are enjoying the Keys.

  2. Great story of your day Bill and such fabulous pictures Nancy. Those sunrise pictures should be framed. I'm ready to go back, especially with this cold spell.

  3. Very interesting lesson on the trees. Amazing, the Strangler Fig. Never saw one before. Nature continues to amaze me. :c)

  4. Interesting info on the trees, and the sunrise shots are gorgeous!

  5. Beautiful sunrise pictures! Thanks for posting them as I don't think that Dan nor I ever saw it in person while we were there!

  6. Those sunrise pictures were fantastico! :)

    You were not supposed to try to catch up on your blog while we were gone :) I think I've gotten through all the posts. You 2 lead an amazing life, doncha know????

  7. Great post! That is a great picture of the sun over the tents:)

  8. Reading this and seeing the pictures bring back so many memories. Felt like we were there.