The Venice Rookery is one of the country’s best destinations for Bird Photographers. This bird sanctuary sits quietly amidst the busy strip malls. During nesting months (usually beginning in December and lasting through May), you can see a vareity of birds cincluding Great Blue Herons, Great Egrets, and Anhingas building nests, courting, and raising chicks.
Everglades National Park is one of the largest and most well-known of America’s national parks. It covers 1,506,539 acres, it is the third largest national park in the lower 48 states, only Death Valley and Yellowstone National Parks are bigger. The park contains sawgrass marshes, hardwood hammocks, mangrove swamps, and lakes.
Everglades National Park is the only ecosystem in the world where alligators and crocodiles co-exist side by side. Alligators do not eat human beings. But, they will protect themselves, attacking humans if they get too close or endanger their young.
The Everglades name is synonymous with birds. In the 1800s, the well-known naturalist and artist, John James Audubon, wrote during a visit to South Florida, “We observed great flocks of wading birds flying overhead toward their evening roosts… They appeared in such numbers to actually block out the light from the sun for some time.” Over 400 species of birds have been known to occur in southern Florida. Birds are usually placed in one of three groups: wading birds, land birds, and birds of prey. One of the prettiest wading birds is the purple gallinue seen below.
A common land bird found in the Everglades is the Red-bellied Woodpecker. The red-bellied woodpecker often creates “caches” of food by drumming rows upon rows of small holes and wedging a single nut or seed into each one.
The little blue heron is unique among herons as it is the only species with two distinct colour morphs for mature and immature birds, with the adult bird being mostly blue and the immature almost entirely white.
Little Blue Heron
And best of all we saw Bigfoot and his son pulling into the Everglades!
Beer Can Island at LongBoat Key is one of my favorite places to visit when I am in Florida. Please enjoy a few photos of this beautiful area.
Great Blue Heron
I recently discovered this secluded beautiful beach and preserve area in Englewood Florida. Hiking trails pass through five distinct natural communities and provide homes for many species of wildlife including osprey flying overhead, gopher tortoises, snowy egrets, and great blue herons.
Sea grapes, mangroves, and bay cedars create an authentic Florida experience. The sea grasses shelter numerous marine creatures including lovely spiny sea urchins. Shelling is extremely popular along this stretch of the beach and I was happy to find numerous fossilized sharks’ teeth estimated to be 4-5 million years old. A single Tiger shark can produce as many as 24,000 teeth in ten years, which means literally billions of teeth have been deposited in the Gulf.
If you are in need of solitude or enjoy viewing wildlife at a pristine beach and surrounding marshland community, I would highly recommend you visit Stump Pass Beach State Park.
Tucked away among the ledges and surrounded by serene mountains and old forest growth is a hidden gem, the Maine Audubon Sanctuary’s Borestone Mountain. Originally operated as a fox farm in the early 1900s, the property was bequeathed to the National Audubon Society by its owner, ornithologist Robert T. Moore.
Despite its modest elevation of 1,947 feet, the precipitous glacier-scoured summit ridge of the mountain offers a 360-degree vista.
There was plenty of wildlife to view as well. I was wondering if this young fox was a descendant from a fox of the original fox farm.
As if Borestone isn’t enough of a reason to head off the beaten path in Monson, just a short distance from the trail head lies beautiful Little Wilson Stream. Little Wilson Stream’s upper falls is a scenic landmark in Maine’s ’100-Mile Wilderness’ which is the most remote section of the Appalachian Trail.
The 3,500-foot Mount Chocorua is one of the most frequently photographed mountains in the world according to the “AMC White Mountain Guide”.
It is certainly beautiful. On a clear day and binoculars, you can catch a glimpse of Mount Wachusett, about 100 miles south in Westminster, Ma. To the west you can see Vermont and 20-plus miles off, Mt. Washington and the Presidential Range dominate the view.
The wind-whipped peaks that tower above the tree-filled valleys of the White Mountain National Forest have been a symbol of wild America since well before the first New England colonies were established. If you turn over a quarter in your pocket , you may now see Mt. Chocorua. New Hampshire’s Mount Chocorua is the latest addition to the U.S. Mint’s America the Beautiful Quarters Program.
And if you are really craving the wild west there is even an authentic Kokopelli store nearby on Route 16.
About a month ago, I was lucky enough to visit beautiful Acadia National Park. Here are a few facts about the park:
Acadia is the oldest American National Park east of the Mississippi River and the very first where the land was donated to the federal government.
There are over 1100 vascular plant species. These include deciduous hardwood forests and conifer forests, made up of spruce, hemlock, fir, and pine. Blueberry thickets are common as well, as are a wide variety of grasses and wildflowers.
The different species of wildlife found in the park include: 273 birds species, 40 species of mammals, 11 amphibian species, 24 fish species, seven species of reptiles, and over 6,500 species of insects.
Acadia is thought to be one of the best birdwatching spots in the country, with 338 recorded species having been seen in the area.
Jordan Pond is the deepest lake at 150 feet deep.
A cloud of mist covered everything and when it lifted they disappeared.
That is the tale that is often told to explain the disappearance of the Anasazi Indians from Mesa Verde.
The Anasazi built small farming villages that spread across the broad mesa landscape. For unknown reasons, around AD 1200 ,the farmers relocated from their mesa top villages to deep Cliffside alcoves. A drought occurred between AD 1273 and 1285 and scholars believe that in response, the Anasazi migrated to New Mexico and Arizona.
For more than five centuries, the cliff dwelling lay silent until, in 1888 two cowboys followed an Indian trail up to Mesa Verde searching for stray cattle. They spotted the vague shapes of a “magnificent city” perched on a Cliffside through the falling snow and were intrigued. The cowboys were warned by a Ute Indian not to enter the ruins and disturb the dead but they descended into the canyon … Inside, they discovered pots resting on hearths, food sitting on bowels on the floor – as if they were expecting to return. The largest of the Cliff dwellings, Cliff Palace contains 240 rooms and kivas.
Sand Canyon Pueblo nearby may be an exception to the planned departure of people from other sites. It happened suddenly. Kivas where burned. We will never know what happened.
However, they didn’t disappear – they are still with us. After the Anasazi left their great houses and cliff dwellings ,their culture emigrated with them. Thus, their influences can be seen even today in the Hopi, Zuni and Pueblo cultures.
Valley of the Gods is a hidden gem located on Navajo Nation Land. A smaller scale version to that of nearby Monument Valley, it offers isolated buttes, red sandstone mesas and cliffs, and towering pinnacles, remnants of some ancient landscape. The area may be toured via a 17 mile dirt road that winds amongst the eerie formations.
Small canyons cut into the cliffs that form the northern boundary of the valley and can be reached after a couple of miles cross-country hiking (as there are no official trails). Valley of the Gods is especially beautiful at sunset, when the rocks take on a particularly deep red color. As with Monument Valley, the most prominent peaks in the Valley of the Gods have received fanciful names, all precisely marked on the topographic map, including Rudolph and Santa Claus, Setting Hen Butte, Rooster Butte, De Gaulle and His Troops, and Lady in the Bathtub.
There are no designated trails or campgrounds, and no gas stations, but there is plenty of backcountry where you can wander and explore.
Several television programs including Airwolf and Doctor Who have featured the the scenic area. In January 2008, a coach traveling west along US 163 in snowy conditions lost control during the steep descent from Lime Ridge, veered off the north side of the highway and crashed in Valley of the Gods. A plaque, cross and various artefacts mark the crash site, where nine people died.
I led a walk last Saturday at the Ipswich River Audubon Society in Topsfield, MA with the Boston Hiking Meet Up. We had a beautiful day and a friendly group of people. Here are some of the photos from the walk:
Great Blue Heron