On Wednesday we traveled back to the Flamingo area and got to see a manatee cow and calf up very close.

Manatee pair  face  bagy

The two were hanging out in the area of the boat slips, near the marina. What wonderful, friendly animals. These "cows of the sea" seem to have no fear of people at all. It made for one great day!

For those who enjoy birds, or even for the serious birder, the Shark Valley area is becoming a very special place! While we will always be best known for the alligators and the nearness of them, people who enjoy birds should not miss what is happening here this year.

        anhinga & chick     gallinule    wood storks    snowy egret

In the past week the activities of mating season have taken on a high pitch of activity. One would almost think that somehow even the birds know that Valentine's Day is rapidly approaching!

The birds are, three young anhingas with father on the nest, a purple gallinule collecting flowers for his lady, a pair of wood storks roost near the newly constructed nest, and a snowy egret is performing to attract a mate.

gator down

Very carefully, I suppose? 

In fact this issue is a part of the training which all seasonal rangers get, even those of us who are volunteers. It has proven to have been a good thing since we find that it does happen, and not that rarely. 

On one occasion I was on roving patrol out near one of the walking trails when I heard a very worried voice saying, "Hello! Hello? Is anyone out there?" The reason was that some alligator had chosen to sun himself laying across the trail such that there was no way to get past, and no other route back to the parking area. On another occasion I was on duty in the visitor center when we were informed that an alligator was laying accross the paved walking area such that nobody could pass by in either direction without passing much too close to one end or the other of the alligator. Today, Pam was on roving patrol of the biking/walking trail when she was flagged down to deal with that very same issue.

 We have found that asking gently, "Mr. Gator, would you be so kind as to move your postierior?" does not usually have much results. What do to resolve the problem is to take a pole and approach the rear of the gator to tap him gently on the tail. The tail is reccomended since that end doesn't generally bite! In most cases, banging the pole on the ground near the gator will get him to move, but there are times when you must tap the tail to get the desired reaction. There are also times when the tap only gets a few steps and must be repeated, while still other times the gator is reluctant to move and lets you know that by hissing his displeasure, before he moves away. Thus far we have found that persistance has always worked, even when under protest. But one never knows for sure and this is a place where new experiences happen nearly every day!

                                                           gator moves

   san marcos pelican class c

 Today we made a visit to San Marcos Island to check out the beachs there and to see the haven of the northern snowbird. It is a very wealthy area and one where the average age must be at least 60 since we saw almost no young people on the streets. In fact, we didn't see even one school or school crossing in the entire visit. They must be home to the world's most friendly polican population!

On our way home we stopped at Wal-Mart near Naples and that is where I took the picture of the class C shown here. That shed is mounted on rail extensions from the frame rails of the chassis. That thing must be a real chore to drive with the front so light and the rear so overloaded!

The question frequently arises as to if we have crocodiles or alligators. It is lesson time!

alligator walks  crocodile

 There is actually quite a bit of difference, once you know how to tell. The easiest thing is that alligators live in fresh water and crocodiles in salt. But there are a few places where there are both, so just to make sure that you know which is eating you, I'll try to make this simple. 

The thing to remember is that an alligator is black and the corcodile is gray. Also, since you will be seeing the eating end of the animal best, remember that if the nose tapers down to a narrow front it is a corcodile but it the nose is broad and flat with a rounded front it is an alligator. This way, should you happen to survive the event you will have accurate stories to tell to people you know!

On Jan. 29, at 7:30 am we were down on the waterfront for the trip to Dry Tortugas National Park.

entry sign moat lighthouse

 The park is fairly small but very interesting. The boat trip was fun and really quick as the distance is about 70 miles and we got there in just over two hours. The boat feeds breakfast and lunch and provides drinking water for the trip. They also give a guided tour of the island.

On Jan. 28 we and some friends from Chekika Area (the Holland's) made a trip to the southern tip of the USA to visit the city of Key West.

     key west  marker

 Key West is an interesting city and while we are glad that we visited, it is mostly one big tourist trap in our view. We did enjoy a tour of the city and the evening that we spend in Mallory Square, where there are many street performers each evening. We spent the night in a B&B to head for Dry Tortugas early in the morning.

On a trip to the Flamingo Area of the park we found just the place for the lovers of mountains who visit this website. Who would have thought that a place like Everglades National Park would have any mountain passes?

         rock reef pass  

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