I've been to Everglades National Park in Everglades City and at Shark Valley, but have not yet been to the main area of the park, south of Homestead. So having a day off and wanting to get out of the area, I went there today. I figured that it was the last day I would have before the skeeters got busy. I picked a good day, dodged the rain, and the skeeters were not a problem.
The Ernest Coe Nature Center is outstanding. I arrived about 25 minutes before it opened at 9 a.m., so I decided to continue down the road and catch the nature center on the way back.
First I stopped at the Royal Palm trail, formerly Royal Palm Hammock State Park before it became a national park.
There is a topical hardwood hammock here, but it is very different from the one at my park. Lots of Gumbo Limbo trees and Paradise trees. Here is a small paradise tree sprouting up in the dark areas of the hammock.
Maybe one reason why this hammock is so different is because 17 years ago Hurricane Andrew wiped out the hammock, so this is all that has grown up since then.
Next to this trail is the Anhinga trail, which I walked down. Unfortunately the pond is really dry and the Anhingas were elsewhere today. The Anhinga is one of my favorite birds because they are so different from other birds.
Looking back from the trail, I see the Royal Palms once again, and this area is also known as Paradise Key. There was once a historic lodge here, but I think it was wiped away by one of the hurricanes.
One thing that was a real treat for me was seeing the flowers from the Pond Apple trees along the boardwalk to the Anhinga trail. Pond Apples are like a pear, but the trees are actually citrus trees. They are native here, but in Austrailia they have become a very bad invasive exotic.
And the only action around the pond was a large alligator moving around.