Everglades National Park, Day 6 – Wednesday – February 13, 2012

Day 6, Wednesday - Buttonwood Canal Kayak and Christian Point Trail Hike

We were still hoping to get out kayaking. 
However, the winds were too strong to go out on Florida Bay. 
But we thought we might be protected from the winds on Buttonwood Canal
which runs from Coot Bay Lake to the Marina. 
0b - Map of Canal to Coot Bay Lake
Buttonwood Canal was begun in the 1920s -- then widened and finished in the 1950s. It once connected Florida Bay with Coot Bay Lake and the Everglades backwaters. In 1982, the canal was plugged with a concrete wall at the marina because the addition of salt water from Florida Bay was damaging the brackish-water balance of the inland estuaries.  But the canal still remains and provides a 3 mile run from the Marina to Coot Bay Lake:o)) 
The marina has two boat launch areas. 
The tan water area is for access to Florida Bay. 
We launched in the darker brackish water and turned left to head north on the canal.0 - Overhead of Flamingo Marina
On the left, next to the trees, you can see the wall that was built to PLUG the canal!!
0c - Crow at Put In in marina0d - paddling to canal at putin
Launching and Heading toward the Canal
0e - turning into the canal
Paddling towards and then under the bridge that crosses the canal.
03a - heading up the canal near bridge03a1 - going under the bridge
It wasn’t long before we realized that we had a strong wind at our back.  Really nice as we headed north, but coming back would be tough.  So we only paddled about 1 1/2 miles of the 3 miles to Coot Bay Lake. We plan to see Coot Bay Lake on another day during a kayak through Coot Bay Pond:)
On our way out, we were passed by these rangers headed for Coot Bay Lake.
It wasn’t too long before they were headed back!!
03b - rangers heading to Coot Bay Lake  03b2 - rangers returning from Coot Bay Lake
We had fun riding some wake;o)
The views along the canal were pretty much lots of green and mangrove roots…
Red Mangroves                                                         Brazilian Peppers.
05 - Red Mangrove Roots 06 - Brazillian Pepper - Florida Holly
The Brazilian pepper tree, also called Florida Holly, is an invasive species which is causing problems in the Everglades.  It is native to South America's Amazon rain forest. However, this tree's rapid growth is causing the decline of trees that are native to Florida, such as the mangrove.

We saw a little bit of wildlife.

Tri-colored Heron                               Pied-billed Grebes                                    Alligator 04 - Tri Color Heron04a -  Pied-Billed Grebes04c - Alligator

But the star of the day was a Swallow-tailed Kite!!!
04b - Swallow Tail Kite


As we approached the Marina on our way back, you get a good view of the wall (Plug) that separates the fresh water of the Canal from the salt water in Florida Bay!

 07a - Canal Dam

By the way, right next to the wall is where the crocodiles hang out most days:o))

Almost back and we can see the Tahoe just beyond the dock.07b - almost back - tahoe in background

It was a nice, peaceful paddle and just right for a windy day!


Since we didn’t spend as much time paddling as we expected,

we decided we had time to hike the Christian Point Trail

which is located just east of Buttonwood Canal.10 - map of Christian Point Trail location

The trail is 1.6 miles each way and begins through the Buttonwood Trees full of Bromeliads. Then you walk through the prairie and mud flats to the Mangroves to reach the water at Snake Bight.  The name Snake Bight sounds a bit scary, but there are no snakes here, since it is salt water. The term bight means a bend in the shoreline.  So Snake Bight is a bend in the shoreline of Florida Bay which forms a cove.

10a - map of Christian Point Trail  11 - Trail Head through the Buttonwoods

We were told by the rangers that at high tide, this was the place to see birds. 
It is a major breeding ground for the migrating birds.  

11a - walking through the Buttonwoods

Heading through the Buttonwoods with blooming Bromeliads everywhere!!

11b - Bromelaids in the buttonwoods11c - Bromelaids in the buttonwoods



12 - Through the grass prairie12b -  Puffing Clouds

As we crossed the grass prairie a Wood Stork flew overhead:0))

13 - Woodstork flying overhead

Next came the Mud Flats.

14 - from the prarrie to the mud flats15 - approaching Snake Bight throught the Mangroves

Fortunately for us, we were here in the Dry Season:o))

You can see footprints left from those who hike here through mud;o((

It was so dry that the mud was all cracked!!

14b -footprints in the mud14c - parched earth

However, in a few months, this will be covered with water again!!


Finally, we reached the Mangroves and the water at Snake Bight.16 - Snake Bight throught the Mangroves

We were so excited to see all the birds!!

Unfortunately, they were some distance off.

18 - wading birds and cormorants19 - wading birds take off

Occasionally, several huge flocks of birds would take flight at the same time!!20 - More birds

While we weren’t able to identify the birds, just the shear numbers were amazing:o))

It was a great hike through several different landscapes.

But for birding…you can’t beat Eco Pond!!


  1. Looks like another one of those wonderful days. Great pictures! That swallow tail kite is fabulous. Wow what a shot.

  2. Great picture of the swallow tail kite. Dianne and I love doing the kinds of things that you did on that day.

  3. While the rest of you were all enjoying the birds, I'd be in heaven among all those Bromeliads! Just love them. Looks like you had a great day in spite of a short paddle.

  4. More nice shots of some amazing birds!

  5. That was a lot of birds. Good thing they were a ways off when the took flight. No fun being under that many birds on their "bombing run"! ;c)

  6. Great picture of the kite. We have one here in Wesley Chapel but I have not been fast enough with the camera.