The Everglades are awesome! Most national parks are designed to protect geologic wonders, with only secondary condideration for biological conservation, but this park is all about biodiversity. I’m not a birder, but even I could appreciate the avian variation: wood storks, white ibises, nesting anhingas, snowy egrets, gallinules, and more. A double-crested cormorant, with stunning blue eyes, caught a walking catfish and flew down right in front of me to eat it. Walking catfish are slimy invasive species, and this particular specimen seemed way too large for the bird to swallow. After a few artful flips and pecks, though, the bird got the meal down its gullet in one piece.
I only saw one amphibian (probably a cricket frog), but the reptilian fauna stole the show with its star, the alligator. They’re everywhere! No external barrier stops you from walking right up to these enormous predators that could take off your limb without a moment’s hesitation. Watching a handful of them cruise around a small lake in the twilight, while birds called from the surrounding trees, was a beautiful experience.
As is true for so many amazing ecosystems, the Everglades have their share of troubles, notably invasive species and diverted water. Let’s make sure not to lose this incredible place.