This is the second post in a three-part Everglades series during National Parks Week in the US. The first post was on Shark Valley.
Wildlife galore! The Anhinga Trail in the Everglades National Park was so nice I went there twice – in the same day.
Only 4 miles form the park entrance at Homestead, the Anhinga Trail is a short, flat trail that is partly along a paved route and partly along an over-water boardwalk. At less than 1 mile in length it had a surprisingly large number of creatures to keep me busy. I knew this trail would be a treat right away as pesky vultures and other big birds were hovering around the parking lot when I arrived.
The trail namesake – the Anhinga – is a bird that can be seen fishing and sunning itself in the trees beside the trail. Now, usually I am nto a bird-person, and I don’t quite get ‘birders’, but I’m open to any wildlife experience. With that said – I think I was extra lucky to find an Anhinga family perched in a nest near the trail, posing perfectly for photos. Not only did I get to see fluffy baby Anhinga birds, but I saw their parents fishing in the nearby waters and actually feeding the youngsters. Man those birds were hungry!
I also saw my first ‘mobile’ Alligator here. Over at Shark Valley I had only seen them swimming or lounging around on land. So I couldn’t really appreciate the size and shape of these prehistoric creatures. But, lucky again, I saw one walking along the sandy beach between two waterways. I had expected it to more or less slide along and drag it’s tail around, like a snake, but it actually picked up it’s entire body as it walked along, before vanishing back into the water. Pretty cool.
After these right place at the right time moments I ventured along the entire trail boardwalk for about half an hour, watching Alligators swim all around. It was a perfectly sunny day, so after the Anhinga Trail I drove on through the Everglades to hike a couple of smaller trails in the hot afternoon. But on the way home, at sunset, I had to stop by the Anhinga Trail again and get more photos during the golden hour of light.
With the hot sun fading, the Alligators weren’t as plentiful – they seemed to retreat back away from the trail boardwalk at this time of day.
The Anhinga birds were no longer feeding their young either, but there were all sorts of herons, including the Great Blue Heron, and other birds flying around or stealthily stalking their dinner. Overall, the Anhinga trail provided a very impressive wildlife show for such an accessible destination, and I’d have to give it a very slight edge over Shark Valley for my favourite trail and wildlife experience in the Everglades.
More bird photos from the Anhinga Trail in Everglades National Park: