a floridays journey

a floridays journey

Trip 15 – 36 hours in the Everglades

Date:Dec. 9, 2023
What we learned:Waiting to do something has its advantages
Would we go back:Yes
Website:Flamingo Camping

The boat trip that had to be rescheduled from last Christmas when it as 34 degrees, windy and rainy is this weekend. We booked just 1 night at the Flamingo Campground. We arrived in the Everglades about 11:00 am after stopping by a fish market for some stone crab claws. Got to get them while they are in season. The water was high so we decided not to swamp walk and just drive and stop at the various trails on the way down to Flamingo. Pay-ha-okee was closed not sure if it was due to flooding or construction so we went down further and stopped at Mahogany Hammock. As we walked into the hammock you could hear 2 owls calling back and forth. We could not see the owls as the hammock is dense. A fellow visitor though, told us about a rattlesnake back a ways by the boardwalk. He showed us where and Wayne and I were thrilled. This is the first rattlesnake I have ever seen. We went back to the van to get a longer lens. As you can see from the photos the rattlesnake really blends into the surroundings.

Before checking into the campground we wandered around the newly renovated Guy Bradley Visitors center. It is really well put together and the views of Florida Bay are gorgeous. The lodge is open as well and the restaurant will be opening soon. We had campsite 41, which is at the end of the lane. There were definately more campers here than last Christmas. There was a steady breeze so we were able to sit outside before the bugs got bad.

Sunday we woke up, got ready and had about 2 hours to spare before the boat left. We drove to the overflow campground on the bay to see if there were any birds. The ospreys have built a nest right near the road and the birds were flying in with nesting material. There was some mating and eating fish as well.

The boat ride into Florida Bay is the Eco Bay Tour by Everglades Institue. All profits from the tours go back into the Everglades. There were 5 of us on the tour. On the boat ride we stopped to watch a pod of dolphin. The tide was coming in and so we saw a few crocodiles before the water overtook their sunning locations. There was a largest flock of sandpipers or plovers that flew by and you could hear the wind their wings made. It was awesome. I am sure you heard about the flamingos that had been blown off course this past summer due to the hurricanes. They have been spotted on the west coast of Florida, in the panhandle, and as far north as Ohio. Well about 40 of them have been sighted in the Everglades and we were hoping to see them. Sure enough as we paddled the inflatable kayaks through the mangroves we opened up into a bay and there they were. I was so excite I could hardly contain myself. We were able to get some good photos and video of them. I could have stayed there all day. Our guide, Captain Justin, did not want us to get too close or stay too long so the birds would not get use to or afraid of humans. I understand but wow. It made the trip to see them. After kayaking the boat takes you to Cape Sable the southern most point in mainland America. The beach was white sand and full of shells. Surprisingly and happy there was not a lot of trash.

Wildlife sightings: Eastern Diamond-backed Rattlesnake, Osprey, Great Egret, Red-headed woodpecker, Crocodiles, Sandpipers, Dolphin, Flamingos, Great Blue Heron, Brown pelican, Red-tailed hawk, crow, Manatee.

We stopped near the entrance to watch the sunset and then off we went and we were home by 8:00 pm. Another great trip to the Everglades.

Note: All photos and videos unless otherwise stated are property of Wayne and Margaret Shoemake. If you would like to use any of them please click the contact page and email us.