There’s been a lot of talk about #mypark … indicating what national park is your favorite. Sometimes people choose the park that they find most beautiful … or perhaps the one that they can relate to the most … or even the one geographically closest to them. It’s a very individual perception and designation. For me, I would have to say that Katmai NP is “my park”, though I certainly don’t live anywhere near it, though I do absolutely adore the wildlife and landscape of Katmai. For me, another NP, which is actually closest to me, is Everglades NP. It’s a place of diverse beauty and landscape … and depending on the season and other environmental factors, its presentation is very different. Like all of the national parks though, its a fragile habitat and environment, and we need to protect them and the wildlife living in them. In the case of the Everglades, it’s also critical to our water supply in Florida. Enough said ….
Usually in the summer, our visits to the Everglades are fairly sparse. It’s hot, humid, and buggy during the summer. Sometimes those conditions extend into the other seasons as well. We did make a few visits in the beginning of winter and found it pleasant … well except for those mosquitoes.
One can find white pelicans there, as this duo shown feeding on the surface of the water near Flamingo. Brown pelicans can also be found year-round, but these white pelicans are more winter residents. American avocets are a favorite of mine, especially when they’re in their winter plumage, as this adult female is. Love their grace as they swim or walk around the shallow water foraging for food. You can almost always count on the American kettle to make an appearance when visiting, though sometimes they’re more cooperative than others. Such graceful beauty in flight as they patrol the area for a meal. Another common resident year-round is the red-shouldered hawk. They’re quite smart predators too, as we watched this one tagging alongside the riding lawnmower man, taking advantage of the grasses being stirred up, making insects much more accessible. A variety of hawks, as well as turkey and black vultures, are a sure thing, especially when warm and windy, as they seek out thermals to circle in flight. In the Flamingo area of Everglades NP, there are always many osprey found and in the winter, they are generally pairing up through courtship behaviors and nest building. The adults are always easily identifiable due to their yellow eyes, versus the orange eyes of juveniles. The female adult also generally adorns a “necklace” across their upper chest. It’s a blast to watch and photograph them as they fly around … leaving and returning to the nest … as they bring in food and nesting material, as well as defend their nest. We watched one day as a vulture tried to land in the nest. Well, that didn’t go over too well, as the occupant of the nest and its mate (from a destination in the distance unknown) went into aggressive modes to defend their nest. It’s fun to watch as the female gets excited when she sees the male coming in with some dinner. (Note: the dark mottled “necklace” feathers indicates this one is a female). What this female didn’t count on was her mate being very defensive with the fresh fish he brought in. It reminded me of a dog being teased with a toy, as he jumped around and around, keeping an easy pick of the fish away from its mate. Eventually, it flew off with the fish, which he devoured a bit, then returned with it … finally surrendering it to its mate. I don’t think that she liked that initial “hoarding” of the food and she screamed at him when he left with it. LOL
After she got her share of the meal, I guess that he was forgiven, since they worked on the next generation of osprey. 😉On this particular day, we encountered a bit of a rain shower. I just loved the way that this male osprey perched itself near the nest, dropped its wing and bowed its head, in an attempt to speed off drying its wings.
An appropriate end of the day … and the blog … is the appearance of a rainbow, as seen right over the nest of the osprey couple. I think rainbows are a lucky sign of what’s to come. Wishing them the best in their nesting endeavors. 🙂Next Up: More from Everglades NP
© 2017 TNWA Photography / Debbie Tubridy