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Thursday, March 7, 2013

Everglades NP ~ Royal Palm… The Red Eye Experience!

Bird Protection!
Notice the windshield wiper thief and also the door weather
strip pulled from the right door!
This morning we are in Flamingo at the campground. The wind was strong before sundown last night, but this morning it was calm and temperature was 51 degrees at sun up and climbing. There are plenty of RV’s here, but they are on the other side. The advantage of a truck camper is its ability to get into small spaces. The point that I am making is that there are plenty of tent campers and spots to park. Tent campers are mostly young and in small groups. It is interesting watching them getting started in early morning. The Vultures are parked around the tent sites waiting for an opportunity to grab any tidbit to eat. Yesterday afternoon, I watched the Vultures going around pecking at everybody’s stuff on the tables.There were black headed Vultures as well as Red headed ones (these also known as Turkey Vultures). There is something repulsive about Vultures. They look spooky. They will eat anything, including hanging around the dump station, enough said!
Leaving Flamingo, we slowly headed back to Long Pine Key. We, this time, stopped at every point of interest. A couple of lakes had birds by the gazillions. I got some interesting shots and especially close-ups. Mid-morning, we made it to Royal Palms to attend the Ranger talk. Here, the story takes a twist. Driving into the parking lot a sign reads “Danger, Vultures can damage your car!” Well, we drive around the corner and there’s a half dozens cars with blue tarps over them. Wow! Getting out of the truck we talked to another couple who was just finishing covering their car. I said, “Boy! I didn’t think that the bird poop was so serious”. “Oh, No!” said the guy. “The Vultures developed this thing of pulling apart anything rubber on a vehicle about three years ago”. We watched across the parking lot, as a pickup truck was having its rubber door strips and windshield wipers being ripped off the vehicle. The “Black Headed Vultures” don’t eat the rubber, they just like to pull it off. Hence my statement above and about those repulsive Vultures stands!.
What's for Lunch? The next picture says "Not Me!"
Royal Palm is an interpretive center and there are Ranger programs all of the time. We sat in on a 10am session. I love to listen and learn. I always leave with new knowledge at these places. The Ranger took us on a walking tour. The wildlife is accustom to people and is easily more approachable, at least to a few feet. My best close-up pictures, so far, were taken here.
The afternoon was spent at the Long Pine Campground reading, resting and working on a tan.
Ok, the “Red Eye Experience!” One of the main reasons for returning to this campground for another nights’ stay was to be able to go on a Ranger walking tour in the Everglades at “Night”. The purpose was to see alligators feeding. When you shine a flashlight, their eyes reflect back a deep red.
The Ranger was scheduled to meet with us at 7:30pm . About a dozen people showed up for the walk. The Ranger never showed. The group decided to do it on their own. So, here we are walking with flashlights along a trail for about a quarter mile, in the dark, no moon present. Fish and things jumping in the water next to the trail. Flashlights on and spotting Garr fish three to four feet long just off shore. We walk deeper into the glades and then a large pond is to our left. The flashlights all beam towards the pond. There two, three, six, ten sets of red eyeballs approaching! Right below the viewing overlook a loud trashing! A 12 foot male trashes around with a fish in his mouth. The Gators seem to have a plan of attack. They come in from several sides and roundup the fish. The water is now turbulent, the Lilly pads are going every which way. I'm trying to get a picture with a tripod and no flash to get the red eye captured. The problem is that the camera is steady but the Gators are not. I got a few shots, but the real experience will only be captured in our minds.
That is what we did and saw!

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