Last weekend, our photography club took a field trip to the Anhinga Trail at Royal Palm Station in Everglades National Park. As we approached the trail, the sun peeked above the horizon and greeted a fog kissed sawgrass prairie.
Eager to get on the trail we gathered our equipment and set out. Within minutes the trail and surrounding Everglades greeted us, silhouetted against a peach sky.
The paved trail has been raised above its watery surroundings to provide visitors with an intimate look at this unique wilderness. At first, it’s a long paved walkway. Resident birds, and of course alligators, went about their daily routine within easy viewing distance. First, we watched a Great Egret prepare for the day.
Then we found a Great Blue Heron spying out his territory from a hillock in the borrow canal.
The trail soon became a boardwalk leading out into the watery expanse of the Everglades. Tucked under the shade of the walkway we found this Green Heron intent on seizing an aquatic breakfast.
You might wonder where the Anhinga Trail got its name. All along the trail, perched on available branches, we found the Anhinga. Also known as Snakebird, the Anhinga dives for its fish, spearing it with its sharp beak only to upend it head first before swallowing. Lacking oil glands, the Anhinga must then hang its wings out to dry before another dive. Aren’t those red eyes surrounded by blue eyeshadow beautiful?
If you think the Everglades is just a swamp, look again. The variety of colorful plants and wildlife is stunning. Here is one of my favorites, a Tricolored Heron. It looks much like a Blue Heron, but its white bottom gives it away.
By the time the sun rose to an unacceptable height for photography, we had spotted an amazing array of Everglades birds. I’ll be sharing some of those feathered beauties on future posts. One you must see, though, is the Purple Gallinule. This tropical wetland bird has long toes that enable it to walk on lily pads. On this morning, it decided rather to swim for its breakfast of flowers and tiny invertebrates. Just look at those colors!
We left the park refreshed and hushed by a sense of wonder. Stopping at the visitor center on the way out we discovered a breathtaking photography exhibit of butterflies found in the park. What a delightful morning! We can’t wait to go back.