Saturday (30-December-2017) — Florida

Gone to See Florida 2017/2018 Road Trip. Day 10: Big Cypress National Preserve.

I was told that the Loop road in Big Cypress National Preserve was only partially opened. I still tried it, and it turned out to be open all the way around. There was one section near the southern end that had some water on the road, but not all the way across.  The first thing I came across was a Turkey Vulture blocking the road. There were alligators, more birds,  and butterflies along the road. And not many other vehicles, which was good since most of the time it is a dirt road. When I got back to Clyde Butcher’s place, there was a Copperhead snake and some Spiders and Webs. Later on I found five Baby (or maybe year old) Alligators sunning themselves on the side of the pond. “Moma” was in the middle of the pond keeping watch. I went back to the start of the Loop Road for sunset.

Turkey Vulture blocking the Loop road in Big Cypress National Preserve. Winter Nature in Florida Image taken with a Nikon D4 camera and 80-400 mm VRII telephoto zoom lens (David J Mathre)
Turkey Vulture blocking the Loop road in Big Cypress National Preserve. Winter Nature in Florida Image taken with a Nikon D4 camera and 80-400 mm VRII telephoto zoom lens (David J Mathre)







Friday (29-December-2017) — Florida

Gone to See Florida 2017/2018 Road Trip. Day 9: Big Cypress National Preserve.

I traveled down to southern Florida to visit Big Cypress Swamp and the Everglades. My base for next three days is Clyde Butcher’s “Swamp Bungalow” behind his Gallery in Ochopee. I stayed here once before, and during that visit did a guided swamp walk. 10-February-2014.

I arrived mid-afternoon, and after checking in at the Gallery walked back to the pond next to the “Swamp Cottage”. “Moma” the alligator was still there, but I didn’t see any of the babies near her. After cooking dinner, I walked back to the Gallery to access the WiFi. There was another alligator in the pond next to the parking lot that had just caught a big catfish for its dinner.

Alligator ("Moma") at Clyde Butcher's Gallery and Swamp Cottage. Winter Nature in Florida Image taken with a Nikon D4 camera and 80-400 mm VRII telephoto zoom lens (David J Mathre)
Alligator (“Moma”) at Clyde Butcher’s Gallery and Swamp Cottage. Winter Nature in Florida Image taken with a Nikon D4 camera and 80-400 mm VRII telephoto zoom lens (David J Mathre)




Six-Years Ago (27-December-2011) — Florida

December Road Trip to Florida in 2011: Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge

Birds (American Avocet, Great Egret, Wood Stork, Roseate Spoonbill, and an unknown bird) and Reptiles (Rat Snake, Turtle, and Alligator) along Black Point Wildlife Drive or Biolab Road in the National Wildlife Refuge.

Alligator with its Jaw Wide Open. Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, Florida Space Coast. Image taken with a Nikon D3x and 500 mm VR lens (ISO 100, 500 mm, f/4, 1/500 sec). (David J Mathre)
Alligator with its Jaw Wide Open. Merritt Island Wildlife Refuge, Florida Space Coast. Image taken with a Nikon D3x and 500 mm VR lens (ISO 100, 500 mm, f/4, 1/500 sec). (David J Mathre)



Friday (22-December-2017) — Florida

Gone to See Florida 2017/2018 Road Trip. Day 2: Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge.

I try to stop and spend at least a day at Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge when I do a road trip to Florida. It has been a while, and the last time I got rained out. The wildlife refuge suffered some Hurricane damage. Both Black Point Wildlife Drive, and Biolab road are open. Biolab road is now one-way, starting from the boat launch area. This is unfortunate, since in the morning you are driving into the sun. I spent the night in Titusville. When I woke up it was foggy. I arrived at the entrance to Black Point Wildlife Drive just after the gate was opened at sunrise. The fog was starting to rise, and when I looked behind I saw the opportunity for a great landscape sunrise image. The clouds and lifting fog made for good backgrounds. I did two loops on Black Point Wildlife Drive, and one pass on Biolab Road. I saw many birds up close. I think the early morning fog helped. Many of the palm trees on Biolab Road lost their tops during the hurricane. I hoped to see more Osprey, but only caught one in flight. There were many more Turkey, and Black Vultures. I am not sure of the ID for the Hawk with a red breast. After the sun came out, a couple of Alligators showed up. As I was leaving, I saw a number of spider webs with droplets of water left by the fog that were lit up by the sun.

Photographer and tripod viewing the sun rising over the trees in the early morning fog. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Image taken with a Fuji X-T2 camera and 100-400 OIS lens (ISO 200, 100 mm, f/7, 1/680 sec). (David J Mathre)
Photographer and tripod viewing the sun rising over the trees in the early morning fog. Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge. Image taken with a Fuji X-T2 camera and 100-400 OIS lens (ISO 200, 100 mm, f/7, 1/680 sec). (David J Mathre)