I finally made it to the southernmost end of Florida and the greater Everglades ecoregion – I spent a week in and around Everglades National Park and Big Cypress National Preserve, adventuring by foot, boat, and bicycle and getting wet, muddy, and mosquito-bitten in the process! It was different from what I had expected, and I discovered some fascinating facts to pass on! Fresh water flowing slowly but steadily towards the ocean, over surface bedrock, has created five distinct ecosystems within those 4,000 square miles. The next few posts will go into more depth on what I learned and experienced, and provide some recommendations for exploring this area in even greater depth! Enjoy!
October 30-31, 2010
Brazos Bend State Park, TX
I rolled into Brazos Bend State Park just before Halloween. I had struggled with the decision, wondering whether it was worth stopping in just to see a few more alligators, which the park is known for. I decided to visit for a couple hours, take a short loop hike and check out the ‘gators, than head north. Instead, I wound up staying all afternoon, overnight, and half of the next day… and discovered how cool waterfowl could be!
They say that pictures are worth a thousand words, so I’ll just limit the narrative here to captions:
Padre Island, TX to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, TX
After leaving Padre Island, I headed north up the coast, stopping for seafood in a small town. Unfortunately, their bay wasn’t opening for oyster harvest until the coming weekend, but I got to sample some other local specialties, with a side of hush puppies.
That afternoon, I got to Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, where I was hoping to spot some of the early Whooping Crane arrivals. While one pair had indeed arrived that week, they were staying deep in the refuge, in an area inaccessible by the casual visitor (as I was). I drove the loop road, though, and got out to walk at every opportunity. With the continued strong winds, only larger birds were flying, and they were staying low. From an observation tower, I got to watch ospreys fish in the ocean and herons on the adjacent flats. And… I came across a few alligators! It was a fun experience, but I’d like to go back sometime when the rest of the birds are aloft…