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.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.
On the left, next to the trees, you can see the wall that was built to PLUG the canal!!
Launching and Heading toward the Canal
Paddling towards and then under the bridge that crosses the canal.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!!
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.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
But the star of the day was a Swallow-tailed 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!
By the way, right next to the wall is where the crocodiles hang out most days:o))
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
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.
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.
Heading through the Buttonwoods with blooming Bromeliads everywhere!!
As we crossed the grass prairie a Wood Stork flew overhead:0))
Next came the Mud Flats.
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!!
However, in a few months, this will be covered with water again!!
We were so excited to see all the birds!!
Unfortunately, they were some distance off.
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!!
at 8:55 PM