Astral Nomads

One man, one woman, one rabbit......traveling with the stars.

Monday, December 27, 2010

More Everglades

Another day, another beautiful sunrise over Florida Bay. Must be something about camping but we're up at dawn every day and usually retired to our cozy bedroom on wheels shortly after sundown. Considering the length of the days at this time of year, that certainly makes for a lot of horizontal living. Of course, we'll catch up on the vertical portion of life as we round again to the summer solstice. Living in nature, we follow the clock of the sun. On the other hand, to get up in the middle of the night here is to be treated with a canopy of stars unlike anything in the light pollution of civilized life. I was overjoyed to be able to see the Milky Way for the first time in many, many years. There are so many stars visible that I need to download a star map because, after living so long in and near urban areas, I have forgotten the shapes and names of many of the constellations. There is a true sense of wonder in the wild night sky.

This is the beach of Florida Bay right near our campsite. It's not sandy but more of a clay-like muddy strand. There are dozens of small keys that dot the distance. It's a good place to kayak camp this time of year and there's a marked kayak/canoe waterway that runs all the way up to the gulf-side entrance to the park. According to the brochure, the estimated travel time by canoe is seven days. There are water platforms (called Chickies) along the way for camping over the water.

The Everglades is a birdwatching paradise. It not only has tons of native birds, but it's also an important stopover point for the migratory birds of the Western Hemisphere. They do a bird census every year around this time and the record count for individual species is 150. That's a lot of birds. I don't have my Audubon guide handy, so I will only guess at the ones I know in these photos. I think these guys are a form of cormorant. They certainly seemed to enjoy seafood.

The Astrals love the beach.

Here's a stork doing a little fishing in the shallows.

Lots of pelicans diving and splashing in the water.

When we were cycling past the marina, we spotted this osprey
just chilling on a lamp post. It did not seem too disturbed by our
presence and we were able to get close enough for Wendy to
grab this awesome shot.

There's quite a variety of landscapes in the Everglades, from coastal prairie to pine forests to mangrove swamps. This shot (and the one below) is from a bridge over the main park road down near Flamingo.

We were cycling and stopped for a picnic lunch at Coot Pond.

This little killdeer was hanging out at Coot Pond.

Life is good!

Anyone for a spot of roasted black vulture? Right after I had
cooked on this grill, this vulture landed on the hot surface
and hung out for awhile, looking for a tidbit I guess. I couldn't
believe he could tolerate the heat. Plus, there really wasn't anything 
there for him to eat. Hot feet and no food is not a winning combination
in my book.


Wendy in full hiking regalia. It was not that cold, but there are enough mosquitoes
that it's better to cover up and sweat than to suffer the bites.

One of the minor downsides to the Eurovan (and mostly since we are carrying so much gear) is that, once we step up camp (swiveling the upfront chairs, popping the top, stowing stuff upfront and in the overhead bunk), it's kind of a pain to undo all that to drive anywhere. So, usually, once we set up camp, we only go where we can walk or cycle. So we broke camp very early on our last day so that we could explore the park by auto on our way out. (It was thirty miles from our campsite to the main park entrance.) The above shot is a mangrove stand at the West Lake stop.

There are a lot of boardwalk trails (as opposed to regular hiking trails) that are easily accessible from the main park road, so we stopped at all of them on the way out. We timed the weather well, since it rained on and off as we were making our way out of the park and the weather forecast called for another relative cold snap.

One section of the prairie was populated with these
beautiful silvery trees.

I think this is some form of heron. I'll get back to you
with a full identification when I get back to the Audubon guide.

There are so many birds here that they hang out together
in wonderful inter-species clusters. Here a heron and an
ibis share some quality branch time. 

More to come, including gators and hawks.

-The usual suspects.


  1. Love all the bird photos.
    No alligator sightings yet?

  2. Great Photos! :-)

    I hope you and your family had a Wonderful Christmas celebration.

    Happy New Year from Southern California. No snow here but a lot of flooding and record breaking rain! :-(

    God Bless You, ~Ron :-)

  3. Thanks Tree, I have more bird photos than I know where to post. Tomorrow's blog will feature alligators!

    Thanks Ron! The weather has certainly been kaflooey this year! Happy New Year to you and Rosie!

  4. Yes indeedy Sandy... Happy New Year to you and Michael and all the "kids!"

  5. It looks like you had the perfect camping trip. The Everglades are a great destination for those who love wildlife. The Everglades Day Safari is great Everglades excursion if you are ever in the area. It offers an incredible Everglades tour as well as very fun Everglades airboat ride. Here is their website at