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Everglades advice?


sbutk

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Has anyone here ever been to Everglades NP?  My family and I are planning a first-time visit this coming April, staying for around 2.5 days (2 nights).  Since our time will be limited, I’m interested to know what were your favorite parts, or what are areas not to miss?  Did anyone take any of the boat tours?  From my online research thus far, I’ve been nearing the conclusion that the airboat rides may be a waste of [time and] money.  But some of the tours of, say, Florida Bay look like they could be promising.  Admittedly, though they all appreciate Nature, not everyone in my family is as gung-ho about birding as I am; but I’m honestly going to be somewhat let down if this visit doesn’t end up netting me another half dozen (or more) Lifers.  One that I’d really like to see is Magnificent frigatebird, so I’m hoping that’s not too much to ask.  TIA for any and all advice the community has to offer!

 

-Steve

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Magnificent frigatebird should be fairly easy anywhere along the coast. You could take a trip to the beach which would keep your family occupied and happy and just keep an eye on the sky. 
Prepare for a rather lacklustre encounter though, they’ll most likely be way up soaring. 
 

There’s a few others threads (if you haven’t read them all ready) of trip reports to the Everglades:


 

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When traveling with non-birding family, I've had luck going out early in the vicinity of the hotel / lodging, before everyone else is up.  If we're in a different environment, I can see some interesting birds and the occasional lifer.  On a trip to Napa CA, I could get an hour to 90 minutes most mornings on open fields behind the hotel.

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14 hours ago, Aaron said:

Magnificent frigatebird should be fairly easy anywhere along the coast. You could take a trip to the beach which would keep your family occupied and happy and just keep an eye on the sky. 
Prepare for a rather lacklustre encounter though, they’ll most likely be way up soaring. 
 

There’s a few others threads (if you haven’t read them all ready) of trip reports to the Everglades:


 

Thanks for those resources.  I know I've seen one, but will have to look into the other.  👍

 

9 hours ago, Charlie Spencer said:

When traveling with non-birding family, I've had luck going out early in the vicinity of the hotel / lodging, before everyone else is up.  If we're in a different environment, I can see some interesting birds and the occasional lifer.  On a trip to Napa CA, I could get an hour to 90 minutes most mornings on open fields behind the hotel.

Good advice, thanks!  😃  I'm sure I'll be able to have them accompany me on *some* expeditions, though.  Hence the question about anyone's favorite hotspots.  Surely others will chime in soon...

 

 

 

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  • 4 weeks later...
12 hours ago, Zoroark said:

I definitely recommend stopping at most of the trails along the main road through Everglades down to Flamingo, especially Mrazek Pond.

This post of mine has some advice:

 

 

Thanks for the detailed info!  I perused your linked-to post as well.  I had indeed made a list of stops along the Main Road that I felt ought to be most interesting/productive, but have had to eliminate a few from our itinerary in the interest of time.  However, since you mentioned it specifically, I shall have to see and hopefully we can make time to stop for at least a few minutes at Mrazek Pond.

Our park visit will unfortunately be limited to one full day, sandwiched between two 1/2 days that necessitate travel to and from what will be our home base 4+ hours away.

Curious whether you've taken any of the boat rides?  Right now in the planning stages I'm leaning toward the Ten Thousand Islands tour.  (The Florida Bay Tour was my first choice, but I found out it will shut down for the season a few days before we get there - apparently on account of shallow water levels in the bay after April 15.)  Whether right or not, the airboat rides don't give me a good impression.  Loud and touristy ($$), and seem like they might scare all the birds away before we get within a mile!

Any further thoughts, please feel free to share!  🙂

 

 

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36 minutes ago, sbutk said:

Curious whether you've taken any of the boat rides?

I have not taken any boat tours in the Everglades. The main question to ask yourself is whether you believe you would see anything that you wouldn't on foot, or if you would get much closer. In some cases the answer may be yes, while in others it may be no.

As an example, when I followed the rare bird alert around Rockport, Texas, several sightings of a white-morph Great Blue Heron were only possible along the route of a boat tour. However, the main thing we would've wanted was the Whooping Crane, to which we could get very close at The Big Tree, so we did not bother with the tours.

On the other hand, a boat tour to open ocean is absolutely essential for many pelagic species such as shearwaters and albatrosses outside of restricted breeding grounds.

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53 minutes ago, Zoroark said:

I have not taken any boat tours in the Everglades. The main question to ask yourself is whether you believe you would see anything that you wouldn't on foot, or if you would get much closer. In some cases the answer may be yes, while in others it may be no.

As an example, when I followed the rare bird alert around Rockport, Texas, several sightings of a white-morph Great Blue Heron were only possible along the route of a boat tour. However, the main thing we would've wanted was the Whooping Crane, to which we could get very close at The Big Tree, so we did not bother with the tours.

On the other hand, a boat tour to open ocean is absolutely essential for many pelagic species such as shearwaters and albatrosses outside of restricted breeding grounds.

 

Noted.  Thanks for sharing your knowledge.  👍

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On 3/21/2023 at 12:11 PM, Zoroark said:

I have not taken any boat tours in the Everglades. The main question to ask yourself is whether you believe you would see anything that you wouldn't on foot, or if you would get much closer. In some cases the answer may be yes, while in others it may be no.

As an example, when I followed the rare bird alert around Rockport, Texas, several sightings of a white-morph Great Blue Heron were only possible along the route of a boat tour. However, the main thing we would've wanted was the Whooping Crane, to which we could get very close at The Big Tree, so we did not bother with the tours.

On the other hand, a boat tour to open ocean is absolutely essential for many pelagic species such as shearwaters and albatrosses outside of restricted breeding grounds.

 

Thanks again for your last reply.

Actually, perhaps just as valuable a question:  I'm curious whether, in your travels within Everglades NP, you might have had any experience (or made a stop on any of the trails, etc.) that you found not to be worthwhile (?)

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I can't really say much with regards to skipping anything because the activity we saw could be very different from what you see. For instance, when we walked around Eco Pond in 2018, we didn't see a single bird, but we did see a few snakes. However, someone visited this morning and saw a few herons and raptors; a Mangrove Cuckoo has been hanging around there too.

If you plan to spend a full day doing the Everglades drive, you should definitely stop at every hotspot along the way. If a place is dead, continue on and stop there again on the way back.

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2 hours ago, Zoroark said:

I can't really say much with regards to skipping anything because the activity we saw could be very different from what you see. For instance, when we walked around Eco Pond in 2018, we didn't see a single bird, but we did see a few snakes. However, someone visited this morning and saw a few herons and raptors; a Mangrove Cuckoo has been hanging around there too.

If you plan to spend a full day doing the Everglades drive, you should definitely stop at every hotspot along the way. If a place is dead, continue on and stop there again on the way back.

 

I know exactly what you mean.  My dad habitually uses the word "Serendipity": Hike past a point one minute later (or one minute earlier) and you very well would have missed that Lifer.  Such are the joys (and frustrations) of birding.  🙂

 

In all honesty, I certainly agree with your philosophy: Leave no stone unturned ...I just hope to be able to squeeze as much into our brief visit as possible - or be itching for a return trip someday! 

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2 hours ago, Zoroark said:

Let's be honest, you'll be itching for a return trip regardless of how long you visit. 😀

 

Haha!  Touche.  That's me with any birding location!  😉

Edited by sbutk
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