Everglades National Park, Day 9 – Saturday – February 16, 2013

Day 9, Saturday – Kayaking Florida Bay

Last night, another weather front moved through and the winds have shifted.  Instead of blowing from the Southeast and Southwest…it is now blowing from the Northeast.  The temperature has dropped considerably, but for the time, Florida Bay is calm.  We decided we would take advantage and try to do some paddling on the Bay today!!

Before we went paddling, Dan showed me how to fix a problem with Baby’s mud-flap.  It really is handy to have such talented friends camping nearby.  Yes, Gin and Syl arrived on Wednesday then Dan and Tricia arrived yesterday:o)) You can’t reserve a specific site, but we were lucky and managed to get sites all together.

Gin & Syl were across the street.                     Dan and Tricia were to our left.01 - Gin and Syl site  02 - Dan and Tricia site
Baby’s mud-flap had not been installed correctly and never swung properly.
Dan made quick work of fixing the problem:o))
   Thanks, MacGyver!
00 - Dan and Bill Fixing a problem on Mud Guard  00 - Dan Fixing a problem on Mud Guard
We are camped in the T-Loop and drove over to the Marina
 to launch our kayak into Florida Bay.00b - Map Flamingo Developed area00a - Map of Florida Bay
With the wind coming from the north,
the Mangroves blocked the wind and made Florida Bay look like a HUGE lake.05 - Great Blue Heron in Shallow and Calm Florida Bay
(click on any photo to enlarge)
Yesterday, we launched at the marina into Buttonwood Canal. 
Today we launched at the Marina, but on the salt-water side into Florida Bay.01 - Launch at marina- canal wall  01 - Launch at marina
We followed one of the tour boats through the marina to the bay.02 - following tour boat out to Florida Bay
We paddled on the right side and then turned to the left as we enter Florida Bay.03b - paddled along the mangroves 03b2 - paddled along the mangroves
As we made the turn, we met this fisherman and his dog.03 - Fisherman and his dog
He was heading way out past the point.  He told us there are some really big fish to be caught!!
He also says he spends the winter in South Florida fishing and spends the summer in Alaska!!!
Sure liked to know how he finances those adventures;o))
As we got out in the Bay, we looked back and saw the visitors center from the water.06 - view back at Flamingo Visitor Center
At the top of their antenna tower is a huge Osprey nest.
Here’s a closer look;o)
06b - view back at Flamingo Visitor Center Osprey Nest
The Osprey are everywhere…
They are quite large and very healthy looking!!
07e - Osprey  07f - Osprey close enough
We saw Osprey after Osprey flying over our heads with huge fish!!07c - Osprey bringing dinner  07d - Osprey bringing dinner
A short distance off shore, there is a big Osprey nest on this little Mangrove Island?!?!!07 - Osprey Nest in small Mangrove Island
We paddled closed enough to see there will probably be some chicks in this nest soon;o))07b - Osprey Nest along coast hanky panky
We paddled close to the shore so that the Mangroves blocked the wind!!
Everywhere we looked we saw birds.
These three pelicans took off over our heads;o((
04a - 3 Pelicans 04b - 3 Pelicans
A Great Blue Heron flew right in front of us!!05b - Great Blue Heron in Shallow and Calm Florida Bay
This Snowy Egret and Little Blue Heron strolled the shoreline.08- Snowy Egret  08a - Little Blue Heron
A Green Heron and White Ibis looked like they were deep in conversation;o)08b - Green Heron and White Ibis
With the wind blowing from the north, the water is blown away from the shore.  While it is always a shallow body of water, today it was extremely shallow.  We could see the bottom and actually hit bottom a couple times.  But there was lots to see down there as well. We hesitate to disturb living creatures, but this just had to be check out…
Bill pulled up this shell and we still could not figure out Who was eating Who??04 - Stuff in the water...who is eating who
We weren’t the only paddlers enjoying this wonderful day on Florida Bay.10 - other kayakers
We paddled out far enough to see where the rangers live.11 - Staff Housing
Not a bad gig in the winter;o))
  Not so much in the summer;o((
We heard all the mosquito horror stories from the rangers!!
At this point, we turned around and headed back. 
We had already spent several hours enjoying this beautiful place.
Another view of the Flamingo Visitor Center and the beautiful clouds.12 - Heading back to marina
Heading back into the marina.
12a - Heading back to marina
That’s the wall that was built to keep Florida Bay from flowing into Buttonwood Canal.12b - Heading back to marina
I guess all good things must come to an end…..darn it;o))12c - Heading back to marina
We had a wonderful paddle on Florida Bay. 
Got the kayak packed up and drove back to the campground. 
The wind out of the north was really strong and quite cool. 
When we got back, we found our neighbors huddled out of the wind behind Baby.
We have read about the Drum Circles that take place along the coast to celebrate Sunset. 
Not sure what we are celebrating in this “Coconut” Circle;o)))
13 - The Coconut Circle
Just being in this beautiful place with good friends is reason enough to celebrate!!!

Everglades National Park, Day 8 – Friday – February 15, 2013

Day 8, Friday – Paddling Coot Bay Pond and Lake

Yesterday we scoped it out…
Today we are going to paddle Coot Bay Pond to Coot Bay.00 - Coot Bay Pond - Kayak Trail

We headed out early after a night of heavy rain.

I blew up the Sea Eagle on the parking area where it was dry!!01 - Blowing up the kayak


Nancy walked over to see the launch area and found this drenched Red-shouldered Hawk:-((02 - very wet Red Shoulder Hawk

It didn’t take long before we were launched on Coot Bay Pond!!03c - Paddling Coot Pond - Looking for Trail across the pond


Coot Bay Pond is a lovely, small, shallow pond.

You can tell how shallow it is when you see the Great Blue Heron wading across;o))

We also saw several Coots and Lesser Scaup ducks!!

  03b - Paddling Coot Pond - Shallow, Great Blue Heron, Coots03 - Paddling Coot Pond - Lesser Scaups

However,  what we were looking for was a small opening in the Mangroves!!


There it is….the small opening to the trail to Coot Bay :o))03d - Paddling Coot Pond - Trail opening

We had to really duck to get through the opening.

Once inside, the trail was spectacular!!!

04 - Entering the Mangrove Tunnel  04b - Paddling through the Mangrove Tunnel

It is a beautiful, narrow tunnel through the Mangroves to Coot Bay Lake.

04c - Approaching the Mangrove Tunnel Exit  04d - First Peek at Coot Bay Lake


As we came out of the tunnel into Coot Bay ,

we saw hundreds of Coots on this huge lake.

05 - Lots of Coots on Coot Bay Lake

Trying to get close enough for a photo is a challenge;o(

A little closer!!

05b - Lots of Coots a little closer


However, one paddled closer and off they go;o((

05c - Lots of Coots a little too close

It actually is quite entertaining to see them take flight.

First, they get up to speed by running across the water!!

Try as we might, we could never get close enough for a decent photo:-(


We had the same problem with the Lesser Scaup Ducks.

We tried to get close enough to photograph their blue beaks.

That wasn’t going to happen either:-(

06 - Lesser Scaup Duck  06b - Lesser Scaup Duck wouldn't stay still either


Coot Bay is a very large lake. 

We, or I should say I,
paddled close to the shoreline,
searching the Mangroves for wildlife. ;o)07 - Paddled along the Mangrove coast


When we reached the point where Buttonwood Canal meets Coot Bay Lake,
we turned around.
07b - Paddled past the end of Buttonwood Canal


While Coot Bay is a beautiful lake,

we both prefer smaller, narrower bodies of water when we kayak.

So we headed back through the mangrove tunnel to Coot Bay Pond

7c - Back through the mangrove tunnel08 - Back through the tunnel


Coot Bay Pond is so beautiful and serene.

Great place to just float around and enjoy nature!!

09 - View across Coot Bay Pond


Before long, we had floated almost to the take out point.09b - Approaching the Take out


As we carried the kayak to the car,

we were greeted by this adorable Black Vulture;o((

10 - The Vulture Greeting Committee

This was a very nice, easy paddle that I would recommend to anyone!!!