Everglades National Park
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The Everglades is a large subtropical swap known for rich wildlife in Southern Florida. The Everglades National Park, however, covers not only swamps and dryland, but also marine environment on the southern end of the Florida Peninsula.
The entire Southern Florida raised from the ocean only in the Ice Age (some 2 mil - 10,000 years ago). This relatively young part of the continent are only a few feet above the sea level, forming a large area of wetland. The following are the representative areas: Sawgrass Prairies (3 pix, it's actually a slowly flowing river, which can be accessed by air boats); Cypress Swamp (1 pic); Pine Land (1 pic); the Florida Bay (1 pic). The last pic is showing the effect of the hurricane Katrina and Wilma: the land were flooded then the mud remained after the flood was gone. Finally the mud dried under the sun and cracked.
Alligators. The main attraction of the Everglades is its wealth of wildlife, mostly alligators and birds. In the Everglades, if you see something looks like a dark piece of log floating on water, or a piece broken truck tire hiding in glass roadside, look again, those can very well be alligators enjoying the sun.
In the Everglades, you can have very up close and personal contact with these ferocious animals. The park recommend that you should be at least 15 feet away from them, so what I was doing the following pix is setting a very bad example. Alligators are not as slow as you probably would think. They can spurt at up to 35 mile per hour, according to park rangers. Never annoy them!
Close-up of these vicious-looking animals in black armor. They grow up to 14 feet and weight up to 1,000 lbs. In the last pic is a baby alligator (well, sort of, it's 3 years-old) in an alligator farm.
Birds. There're over 350 species of birds living in the Everglades National Park, mostly wading birds. A commonly spotted bird is Anhinga. Anhinga doesn't have water glands like duck, so the feathers wet underwater. It often dives into water to chase fishes, but after getting out of water, it has to dry their feather under the sun.
A similar-looking bird is the Double-Crested Cormorant. Cormorant is also a diver. You can tell cormorant from anhinga by a hook beak instead of a straight thin beak.Oh, also, Cormorant has large beautiful blue eyes.
Another frequenter of the Everglades is Great Blue Heron. It's reportedly the mostly widely spread Heron in North America. I've seen it in Alaska and California.
A Green Heron like to slowly crouch on water, patiently waiting for prey (fishes, insects, and small vertebrates) to come by. Once the target is locked, it'll strike by stretching its long neck.
More herons. The first white I think it's a youngling of Great White Heron, judging from the black color of its feet. Snowy Egret, which is similar in size and color, has yellow feet (see my California Wildlife page). In the rest of the pix is a young Tri-Colored Heron. It can distinguished by a white stripe running in the front of its neck.
Purple Gallinule is a brightly-colored marsh bird that often jumps between lily pads.
The scavengers. This is a red-faced Turkey Vulture. The bald reddish head is a bit like turkey.
Black Vulture. Both kinds of vultures are often find in large group near landfill or trash dumpster.
Birds and others: A Red-Shoulder Hawk (1 pic); Ospreys and an Osprey Nest (2 pix);
Reptiles: Gecko; Turtle (2 pix); Sea Turtle (1 pic); Soft-Shell Turtle (1 pic); Iguana (1 pic, not native, but escaped pets); Snakes (last 2 pix).
Ten Thousand Island Wild Life Reserve. The Florida Bay part of the Everglades National Park. A favorite attraction is dolphins that like to chase small boats. Look at them jumping out of water!
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