Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Birds, eyes, views

Anhinga, front view
In the Everglades I was sorely tempted to uproot a gumbo-limbo tree and take it home with me, but how would I squeeze it into the overhead compartment on the plane, and how would I explain the new acquisition to my longsuffering husband?

I've never seen a gumbo-limbo tree before (that I am aware of) but now that I've seen one, I'll never forget it: the rubbery red-orange bark would be at home in a forest of animatronic talking trees, with the sharp-angled branches serving as arms. They're not very tall--few trees are in the Everglades--but a few gumbo-limbo trees would really liven up our Ohio landscape.

Anhinga, rear view
The alligators we saw looked similarly rubbery, but my, what big teeth they have! We saw a few solitary gators along the pathways and then a whole crowd them of gathered in a particular muddy pool. What attracted so many gators to that particular place? If it was a great place for tourists to watch the gators, it was an equally great place for gators to watch the tourists.

I don't need to take any anhingas home with me because it makes me happy just to say the word: anhinga anhinga anhinga. Their blue-gray plumage looks like a ball gown from the back and their long, sinuous necks are the essence of elegance.

Many Florida birds are a mystery to me. I know I saw cormorants, storks, ibises, and herons, and we saw both vultures and a sign warning that vulture may damage vehicles (!), but I can't put a name to many of the birds whose beady eyes ended up in my photos. I wish I could take them all home with me, but someone would squawk if I tried to smuggle them through airport security.

Maybe I could hide them in the branches of my gumbo-limbo tree. It followed me home--can I keep it?

Even in the dry season, it's easy to see why Marjorie Stoneman Douglas called the Everglades a Sea of Grass.

We kept trying to canoe out to this mangrove tree in Florida Bay, but we never quite got there, thanks to (1) wind; (2) sand bars; and (3) mad canoeing skills.


Andrea said...

Gorgeous photos -- every one of them. Is that a green heron just above the gators?

Bev said...

Yes, I believe that is a green heron, a bird I had never seen before. We saw green, white, and blue herons, including both the great blue and the little blue. My photos of the little blue heron are just bad, though.