Wednesday, December 28, 2011

A Trip Down Alligator Alley--AGAIN!

Not I-75, but highway 41 east out of Naples....Back to the Cypress Swamp Welcome Center,  where we saw a pair of manatees today, a mother and her calf....The Gulf of Mexico's temperatures have been over 70 since we've been here. Manatees start to come to inland waters when the gulf temperatures reach 68 degrees. The recent cool down at night will probably bring more of them inland to the Cypress Welcome Center soon....

Back to the H.P. Williams Wayside Park, back to see the alligators out sunning themselves along highway 41. You shouldn't stop along 41 unless there's a pullout or a safe place to park, so we didn't! (Oh, yes we did, the first year we came down here! reminds Eldo.) Uh-yes, I confess, we did...Sparky was so excited to see SO MANY ALLIGATORS, over fifty of them the first year we drove east on 41, Tamiami Trail, and big guys at that, that she had Eldy pulling over several times to get photos....But now, we know, that is NOT the safe thing to do...and now we know, that if you stop at the Oasis Center further east on highway 41, you will see LOTS of really bad-a** looking alligators! And you can see LOTS of them up close and personal at the Shark Valley Welcome Center to the Everglades National Park....If you look back at the blog a couple of weeks ago, you'll see just how close we were to them on the 17 mile bike trail at Shark Valley....But here's one we saw today (at right)...He appeared VERY awake...Last week all the gators we saw appeared comatose and not moving!

Today, at the H.P. Williams park, we saw the usual cormorants and anhingas sunning and drying their wings, a nice big alligator, and some really big turtles.

This one was the size of a humongous dinner plate at least...maybe a serving platter!

We saw this little cutie working the binoculars with great expertise at the fence, a future naturalist, perhaps?

It's fascinating to watch the anhingas swim underwater, they are such sleek, fast birds! Anhingas and cormorants are very similar, actually...Anhingas  are much handsomer birds with their silver streaked wing and feather patterns. Male anhingas have black heads, females have the furry light brownish tan heads....Cormorants have a little hook on their beaks and their beaks are wider than anhingas. OK, here comes the quiz...What's this?

Just kidding...the retired teacher in me has wanted to get that out for a long time! "Pop quiz!" It's an anhinga...Next question....What's the bird on the left in the photo below? Actually, I forget this one! Some kind of blue heron, I think?
It's amazing all the birds we saw today...we think we even saw a roseate spoonbill in the marsh as we were driving down 41....Everything looks alive and healthy, and the wood stork population looks good, too...Even if they are on the endangered list, we have seen LOTS of them all over the place. It's an AMAZING ecosystem, that's for sure!

We've got a couple of things planned in the next few days for our last "hurrah" here in Naples....Stay tuned to see what they are! Bye for now......


  1. Nice anhinga shots ... I loved taking pictures of them when we were in FL a few years ago. As for the heron ... could it have been a tri-colored? Hard for me to tell from behind.

  2. Oh BOY! Love hearing that the manatees are moving inland just when I'm heading in that direction. Very cool! Great pics!
    Good luck on your move.

  3. Wonderful close up shots of such great wildlife! Love the bird stretching the wings. The gators.... ummm not so much.

    Karen and Steve
    (Our Blog) RVing: Small House... BIG Backyard

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