I am back in Montana and it has been an interesting trip home. I left Ushuaia in the early afternoon after my fruitless search for the White-throated Caracara and the dump. Next time! Now that I know that it is such a popular destination and the cabbies are familiar with the request and know where to go, I will be sure to try again next time I am in town. This whole Ushuaia dump thing has led to some interesting connections through the internet. While doing a Google search a while back for more information on the dump (they had closed the old dump that I knew the location of and I was searching for more specific information on the location for the new dump) I ran across a blog by Clare Kines who had visited the dump a few years ago and had posted a comment about that in his blog. I found that Clare was also interested in birds and birding and had a very interesting blog about his life in the far north so I added his blog to my blog roll. Enough of that side bar and I look forward to visiting more with Clare about our common interests soon.
So... I wound up in Santiago at the airport for a few hours where the air conditioning was not working. So from a nice comfortable temperature in Ushuaia to the stuff hot airport in Santaigo. My overnight flight went well and coming through customs was a breeze this time. I had planned a couple of days in the Everglades this year on my way home so I picked up my rental mini van and hit the road. The weather outside in Miami was much like the weather inside the Santiago airport so maybe it was just good preparation for me. I find the Miami airport very confusing and the car rental operations are certainly in line with the overall confusion of the airport operations. The rental agencies are located in what appears to be an industrial area next to a shipping canal and I was unable to track the route the rental agency bus took to get there from the airport or figure out a way out of there that made sense. I was also worried about getting the car back there in the dark in time for me early flight on Saturday morning (particularly the Saturday before the Super Bowl). After spending a bit of time getting oriented from the car rental place I finally figured out where I was and began heading in the right direction. I made it to the Everglades National Park early in the morning and spent the rest of the day immersed in my first experience in south Florida outside the Miami airport. It was such a contrast to the life and climate I had been working in for the last couple of weeks. I spent time stopping at a number of sites along the road while driving through the park to Flamingo, where I had a camping site reserved. I had a wonderful time by myself, birding where I wanted and getting a good dose of birds that I rarely if ever see. Shortly after coming into the park I drove past a small pond with Anhingas and Wood Storks right along the road. Although I suspected that I would see more further into the park, I just couldn't resist stopping and taking a good look. Particularly since it was the first time I had ever seen a Wood Stork. It turned out I was right about seeing more later on (and then some). My next stop was the Royal Palm area and the Anhinga Trail. I soon had herons off all sorts feeding right near the trail along with more Wood Storks and alligators and turtles and... The abruptness of being immersed in the midst of this avifauna that I seldom see was a bit shocking but also such a treat. I got a bit of a taste of how Thomas Mueller, my fellow Oceanites researcher, felt during his first landing in Antarctica at Lookout Point on Elephant Island. I must had had the same awed grin on my face.
I continued to work my way south and wound up at my campsite with plenty of time to visit a few of the areas near the campground when the light and mid-day heat became less intense in the evening. I was even able to spot a couple of American Crocodiles near the marina.
Next post I will describe the rest of my time in Florida. Here is a photo I took of one of the Wood Storks at Mrazek Pond.