Big Cypress National Wildlife Preserve: Turner River Canoe Trail

Click Sooney for a gallery of pix.

Sooney keeps saying it’s an honor to pay taxes, especially when they help support our National Parks. Today was payback. We left Jim and Carol’s at dawn and drove west on the Tamiami Trail (the original road between Tampa and Miami) and a little over an hour from Coral Gables were in the Big Cypress National Preserve.

The National Park service provides ranger-led canoe trips in the mangrove swamp and we set out at the Turner River Canoe Trail gathering area. Ranger Alexis was an experienced birder and we were introduced to the trials and tribulations of river management. Paddling north to the “headwaters” of the Turner River (basically water oozing from the swamp), we had difficulty navigating through the invasive Hydrilla, an introduced plant that is multiplying out of control. The terrain, however, was gorgeous and wildlife abounded.

After 45 minutes, we returned to our departure point and headed south for a mile or so, and there conditions changed radically. There are four unique ecosystems coexisting in Big Cypress, and an elevation change of 1 foot is enough to completely change the ecosystem. From tall trees to mangroves to grasslands. What was particularly fun was passing through the red mangrove tunnels that required more pulling (Sooney called it the monkey-bar technique) than paddling. Great fun and certainly worth a revisit.

Sightings on Feb. 15
Turner River Canoe Trail
Off the Tamiami Trail Hwy. 41

Along the Tamiami Trail, to and fro:
Muscovy Domestic Ducks, Starlings, Cardinal, <Limpkin>, Belted Kingfishers, Anhingas, Snowy and Great Egrets, Little Blues, Tricolored and Great Blue Herons, Common Grackles, <Boat-tailed Grackle>, Osprey, Red-shouldered Hawks, American Crows

While Canoeing:
Gray Catbirds, Cardinals, White-eyed Vireos, Red Shouldered Hawks, Osprey on nest, Kingfishers, Great Egrets, Snowy Egrets, Little Blue Herons, Green Herons, Tricolored Herons, Anhingas, Great Blue Herons, Wood Storks, White Ibises, Pied-billed Grebes, Green-winged Teals, American Coots, Common Yellow Throats, Carolina Wren

On the way home at Burns Lake Campground:
Eastern Bluebirds, Yellow Rumped Warblers, Palm Warblers, <Pine Warbler>, Northern Flicker, Red-bellied Woodpeckers, Eastern Phoebe, Mockingbirds, Great Crested Flycatcher,

Water Management S-333:
House Wren

First time sightings: 3