December 2011

Sorry there wasn't an update for November. A recurrent Achilles tendon injury flared up and I had to spend the whole of the month resting as much as possible so that I could give it a chance to heal before I went for a 3-week trip to Florida in the latter half of December and the beginning of January. 

Below is a very small selection of my favourites from the five days I spent in the Everglades National Park.  A full trip report is in preparation and will hopefully be published around the end of January.

American Crocodile (Crocodylus acutus)

The extreme south of Florida is the only place in the world where crocodiles and alligators can be found co-habiting.  Alligators are by far the more common, but the endangered American Crocodile can be found fairly easily in the Flamingo area of Everglades National Park where it can sometimes be seen in the marina. On a kayak trip into the backcountry I had several good opportunities for photography basking crocodiles.  The individual shown above was not a particularly large one and was about 2m in length.

Crocodiles differ from Alligators in having a long, tapering snout, paler colour, and the teeth from both the top and bottom jaws are exposed when at rest (only the teeth from the upper jaw are conspicuous in Alligators when its mouth is closed).  Generally, crocodiles are only found in salty or brackish water while Alligators have a strong preference for fresh water.

American Alligator (Alligator mississippiensis)

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Ospreys are common throughout Florida and are generally very approachable and easy to photograph. 

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)

Anhinga (Anhinga anhinga)

Another very common raptor is the Red-shouldered Hawk.  Back in the days when I used to live in Maryland, I had always found this species to be quite shy and retiring and rarely seen in the open...well, they are certainly not shy in Florida!  As with so many of the birds there, they are ridiculously tame at times.

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

I saw, and photographed, 14 species of long-legged wading birds in Everglades National Park.

Tricolored Heron (Egretta tricolor)

Purple Gallinules are common around the Royal Palms boardwalk.

Purple Gallinule (Porphyrula martinica)

Both Black and Turkey Vultures were abundant with flocks of over 200 regularly soaring over the Royal Palms boardwalk in the late morning.  They can be quite destructive, and seem to enjoy ripping the rubber seals and windscreen wipers off cars in the parking lots.

Black Vulture (Coragyps atratus)

Landbirds didn't appear to be very numerous.  One exception was the Palm Warbler which was seen pretty much everywhere.  Almost all of the individuals I saw were of the duller brown western race palmarum.

Palm Warbler (Dendroica palmarum palmarum)

Last, but most certainly not least, were the Manatees, an animal I have always wanted to see.  These were remarkably easy to see at the Flamingo marina, and they would often surface only a couple of metres from your feet if you were standing on the warfs.  Unfortunately the waters around the marina are extremely turbid and you can only see the animals when they poked their heads above the surface to breathe.  I also saw them on a couple of occassions in the backcountry where the water was a lot clearer and you could see the animals in their entirety, but the light was terrible for photography on these occassions.

West Indian Manatees (Trichechus manatus)

October 2011 2011 Diary Index January 2012