M likes to ask me questions when we're traveling, and usually my first response is, "are you nuts?" While in Boston in January in freezing temperatures and bitter winds, she asked me if I'd like to take a stroll down to the harbor. We froze our asses off. Recently ( a year later) we were in Philadelphia in January to visit the Market (I'll do a post on that soon) and she says, let's walk to the museum to see the Liberty Bell, it's only a mile or so. I'd learned my lesson since Boston so I was covered from head to toe. Well on our recent post-Christmas trip to Florida to enjoy the warm weather, M asks me if I'd like to go for a hike through a swamp. You can imagine the look I gave her. Oh, and by the way, we're going to bring a surly teenager with us as well. Honestly, I don't know where she gets these ideas, but at least our trip through the swamp was not in windy, freezing temps, and it also was a pleasant 80 degrees. That said, this was one of her better hair-brained ideas. :-)
Blair Audubon Center website
So the Blair Audubon Center was about 30 minutes from where we were staying on Marco Island. The swamp and Audubon Center are part of the larger Everglades National Park. I was not enthused to be trekking through a swamp and so had very low expectations. When we arrived we saw many people there. Maybe they knew something we didn't. We also saw tons of cameras with massively large lenses. Next we saw photographers from National Geographic with a camera lens that was so large, it looked like a giant telescope. It was as big as the back of an SUV. Apparently, this swamp was a haven for bird watchers. Who knew? Well, apparently not us. Luckily I did have my camera with me and my microscopic lens (compared to the others). I was definitely developing lens envy.
I must say that I was pleasantly surprised at how quiet hundreds of people could be while walking through the swamp. Oh sure, we had a few parties yakking, but most people were quiet and constantly on the lookout for birds. The trails were all elevated wooden walkways, which was great, no mud on the shoes and not close enough for an alligator or a snake to get to you. This was my kind of walk through the swamp. I was surprised at the variety of trees (pines, palms, etc.), plants, mosses, lichens, flowers and birds. I'm going to let you walk quietly through the photos to see what I saw. There is one thing I do want to mention. When you get to the shots of the birds, please know that most of them were taken at a great distance. I was greatful that my lens could capture the birds from so far away. The only bird that was close was the first white bird you will see. He swooped down toward us to land on a tree branch and I lifted my camera really fast hoping to capture him. I was so excited when I saw that I got him in flight. I blew that shot up a little so you could see him better. He looks positively prehistoric. Well. Enjoy.