2018 Wading Bird Nesting Season

nesting seasonEvery winter, birds flock down to Florida, and the Everglades, to beat the cold but to also nest. Nesting season is extremely important because it solidifies the future of these species of birds, especially those who are endangered and nearing extinction.

Each year, certain areas of Everglades Park are closed so the birds can nest in private without the possibility of being disturbed by humans. Any change in the environment (humans or not) can keep the birds from wanting to nest in the Everglades or nesting at all, so it’s extremely important to give the birds their space.

The 2018 wading bird nesting seas in the Park was successful. The number of wading birds nesting was a large number. For the first time since the 1940s, the White Ibis nesting pairs were in high numbers. As of May 2018, the baby birds fled or left their nests.

The White Ibis breeding groups are called supercolonies. These supercolonies haven’t really existed in the Everglades since humans re-directed the water years ago. With the restoration of the Everglades, one goal is to return the water to its original flow and increase the waterflow, so the land will resemble the water conditions it had before people inhabited the area. One-way scientists measure the success of the restoration is through the number of wading bird colonies during the nesting season. This year’s wading bird season is showing that life can turn back to its normal ways in the Everglades through water and ecosystem restoration, but there’s still a long way to go.
Explore the Everglades by Airboat

Check out the Everglades wonderful birdlife and wildlife by airboat! You may not be able to se close to nesting birds, but you will be able to spots many bird species on a trip!

Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We can point out birds to you on the trip! If you love birds, come for a ride on an airboat! To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.

 

Visiting the Everglades During the Wet Season

evergladesWe’re amid the wet season right now in Florida and the Everglades; the season runs through November and started in May.

Before heading out into the Park, you should be prepared in knowing what to expect of the Everglades during this wet season.

  • Average temperatures can be as high at 90 degrees.
  • Humidity can be over 90 percent.
  • Heat index can be over 100 degrees.
  • Every day, you can expect an afternoon thunderstorm. These storms usually pass by quickly.
  • Weather can be unpredictable (more than usual) because of the torrential rain and thunderstorms – it’s hard to say when they’ll arrive and for how long.
  • It’s hard to see wildlife this time of year because of the wetter conditions, higher water levels, and high temperatures.
  • Insects are in high numbers, including mosquitoes, so it’s best you come equipped with bug spray or clothing to minimize the amount of exposed skin.
  • There are less tours during the wet season.
  • Some facilities and areas may be closed or partially closed during this season.
  • Less people make the Park easier to explore and it is quieter.

Explore the Everglades by Airboat

Come out and explore the Everglades during the wet season. Come during the morning to avoid the rain storms! Come prepared with bug spray, hats, sunglasses, and water, so you can have a comfortable trip. Unfortunately, you may not see as much wildlife as you would during the dry season, but they’re still plenty of creatures around. Also, you don’t have to deal with big crowds during the wet season, and you can explore the park with more peace of mind.

Whether it’s the wet or dry season, airboats are out on the water! Come enjoy a fun trip out on the water exploring the Everglades. Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.

 

October Activities in the Everglades

airboatWe’re in the middle of fall, and now is a great time to explore the Everglades! As the weather starts to cool down and the “in” season for Florida grows near, there are more activities to do in the park. Also, it is a lot more enjoyable to explore the Everglades, when it’s not brutally hot out!

As a private Everglades airboat company, we know a lot about the Everglades and we love to hear about all the fun activities people do within this beautiful ecosystem (besides jump on an airboat ride, that is!) For this article, we wanted to share with you some fun activities for you to do in the Everglades on a trip during October.

Anhinga Amble
Every day at 10:30 to 11:30 am., 11 a.m. to noon (in German)
Free with park entrance fee.
On the Anhinga Amble, visitors get to explore the Anhinga Trail and get the chance to see alligators, wading birds, and other wildlife. The walk starts at the Royal Palm benches. This trail is wheelchair accessible. The walk is 50 minutes long.

Glades Glimpse
Every day from 1:30 to 2 p.m.
Free with park entrance fee.
Sit back and relax and listen to a Park Ranger give a 20-minute talk ton the Everglades. Topics vary daily. The talk will be at the Royal Palm benches. The area is wheelchair accessible.

Shark Valley Tram Tours
Every day until October 24
9:30 to 11:30 a.m., 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., 2 to 4 p.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.
Adults $25, Seniors (62+) $19, Children (3-12) $12.75
Jump on a tram to explore the Everglades and get a chance to see alligators, birds, and other wildlife. A Park Ranger or Park Naturalist will lead the tour. The tours are wheelchair accessible.
Reservations are recommended. Call 305-221-8455.

Explore the Everglades by Airboat

These are just a few of the activities happening in the Park in October. Airboat tours happen daily! Our team at Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours is open 7 days a week from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. We have years of experience navigating through the wetland and can point out lots of plant and animal life out to you.  It’s an experience you’ll never forget. To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.

Go for a Ride on Shark Valley Bike Trail

bike trailBiking is a great way to get exercise, but it’s also a great way to get out and explore – biking in the Everglades is an experience to remember. The Everglades is a vast, beautiful ecosystem with so many different plants and wildlife for you to admire as you glide on past.

If you’re interested in biking in the Everglaes, check out the Shark Valley Bike Trail. The Shark Valley Bike Trail is a 15-mile trip good for all types of bicycles. It’s a flat terrain. People take about 3 hours to complete this trip, but they usually aren’t biking the whole time, because many people stop often to sightsee around!

While biking this trail, you will also share the road with trams from Shark Valley Tram Tours. The trail starts at the Shark Valley visitor center. Whenever a tram comes near you, you are asked to stop biking until the tram passes. The speed limit for everyone is 25 mph.

You can bring your own bike or rent one from Shark Valley Tram Tours. However, bikes are available to rent on a first-come, first-serve basis, so be aware there may be none left during a busy time of day or season. There are bikes for children available, as well as helmets and bike baskets. Bikes can be rented and used on this trail from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.

If you are unable to bike the full 15 miles, you are advised to turn around to return to the beginning. There are restrooms and a water fountain at an observation tower on the trail.

The parking lot closes at 6 p.m. to access this trail.

If you want to ride with a group larger than 20 people, you need to obtain a special-use permit from a park ranger. If you want to bike before 8:30 a.m. or after 4 p.m., you will also have to obtain a permit.

The trail gives riders a closer look at the bayhead and hammock ecosystems in Bobcat Boardwalk and Otter Cave Hammock trail, which are unpaved walking trails people can explore.

Animal sightings are possible, but it is advised that you do not approach the animals. Keep your distance from all wildlife and never feed them.

Explore the Everglades in an Airboat

Biking the Everglades is great way to experience the park up-close-and-personal while getting exercise. If biking isn’t your thing or if you want to see the Everglades in a different way a trip on an airboat is a great way to do it. Airboats can bring visitors to places beyond where a walking or biking trail can reach. To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Private Everglades Airboat Tours page.

 

Explore the Everglades by Slough Slogging

If you have a sense of adventure and a love of the outdoors, slough slogging is for you! Ever heard of it? Slough slogging is a wet hike in the Everglades, also known as off-trail hiking, with a park ranger.

Slough slogging is a great way to experience the Everglades – it’s an experience and viewpoint most people will never do or have. Park rangers take people through the Shark River Slough. You must bring water, sturdy close-toed lace-up shoes, long pants sunscreen, a long sleeve shirt, insect repellent, binoculars, and snacks.

Since you will be surrounded by water and plant life, be prepared for lots of insects.

These trips are for 15-people groups, so it’s essential that you make a reservation. To go out on a slough slogging trip, participants must be 12 years or older. These trips are free.

On a slough slogging trip, the group will move slowly through muck and uneven terrains into the cypress dome. Groups will get the chance to see lots of different plant life, fish, and birds during the trip.

Reservations are required for these slough slogs. The trips are also weather dependent; they run several times a week from December through April, but also occur throughout the rest of the year, just less frequently. For more information, click slough slogging in the Everglades or call 305-242-7700.

Explore the Everglades on a Private Airboat Tour

Slough slogging is fun, but it can also be tiring and messy! If you want to explore the Everglades in a more relaxing and less messy fashion, jump on an airboat! An airboat tour will bring you through the Everglades’ waterways and give you a glimpse of the Park you’ve never seen before. To book an airboat tour, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Everglades airboat tour page to schedule a tour today.

 

Photo courtesy: NPS.GOV

Explore the Everglades by Canoe and Kayak

The Everglades is wet. In fact, it gets around 60 inches of rainfall each year. Whether a lake, pond, or river, you will always be surrounded by water in the Everglades. Since the Everglades is made up of water, why not travel through it that way? An airboat tour is one of the best ways to hit the Everglades by water, but another great option is canoeing. If you love being active in the outdoors, canoeing and kayaking are the perfect activities in the Everglades…and the views are breathtaking!

On a canoe or kayak, you can explore the Everglades’ freshwater marshes, mangrove forests and Florida Bay. You can take a vessel out on your own or go on a canoe or kayak trip – these trips vary in length and difficulty.

You can bring your own canoe or kayak and launch them from several locations around the park. If you need to rent a canoe or kayak, you can rent them from the Flamingo Marina or Gulf Coast Visitor Center in the park.

Ready to paddle through the park?  Here’s some info on a few canoe/kayak trails in the Park:

Flamingo Canoe Trails – These trails are for beginners and advanced levels. They are located 38 miles south of the Homestead park entrance. You can access these trails from the Flamingo Marine or the main park road. The trails are 1.6 to 7.7 miles in length. You will sail by grassy marsh, mangrove islands, narrow passageways, mangrove creeks, and more.

Nine Mile Pond Canoe Trail – This trail is a Park favorite. It’s off the main road before the Flamingo area of the park. On this trail, you can see alligators, wading birds, turtles, and fish. This trail is a 5-mile loop, and it takes 4 to 5 hours.

Hell’s Bay – Want to experience something magical? Go on the Hell’s Bay trail and sail right through mangroves. It’s popular but also difficult. Hell’s Bay is accessible from the man park road south of the Homestead entrance.

Gulf Coast – Gulf Coast Trails include: Sandfly Island Loop, Turner River Canoe Trail, and Halfway Creek and Loop Trails. These trails are accessible through Florida City, and can take anywhere from 4 to 9 hours to complete.

Book a Private Everglades Airboat Tour

Canoeing and kayaking can get exhausting. If being active isn’t your thing or if you want an additional way to explore the everglades on the water, jump on an airboat tour. On an airboat tour, you can sit back and zip through the water and see all sorts of plant and animal life. Contact Captain Mitch of Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours today to go on the ride of your life. To book a reservation, call 800-368-0065 or click our private airboat tour in the Everglades page.

 

Be A Park Employee for a Day Through Geocaching

Want to be an Everglades National Park Employee for a day? You can! You can try out managing the Park through the “Park Employee for a Day Geocache Trail.” This trail is comprised of 5 caches from the Main Park Road to Flamingo. The caches each have their own real-world case study for you to figure out how you would deal with a certain issue. Then, you log what you find and your thoughts. This is an ideal chance for you to share your thoughts on the Park.

What is geocaching? It’s a real-world outdoor treasure hunt.  Geocaching is a game where players must locate hidden containers (called geocaches) using a GPS-enabled device while sharing their experience online. For the park ranger geocaching trails, your treasures are the case studies.

When geocaching, you will navigate through a certain set of GPS coordinates in order to find the geocache hidden at that particular location.

For Park Employee Geocache #1, the coordinates are: N 25º 23.723′ W 080º 35.021′. This is the starting point for the Park Employee for a Day geocache trail. In the cache container you will find a Everglades geocaching  brochure about the other caches, as well as coordinates for each.

For Park Employee Geocache #2, the coordinates are:  N 25º 22.921′ W 080º 36.561′. This is in a popular area of the park and you will have to figure out how to ensure public safety in the Park with all the wildlife around. Click the Everglades geocaching #2.

 

For Park Employee Geocache #3, the coordinates are: N 25º 22.933′ W 080º 37.331′. This will take you on an historic road and the problem you will face is something that has been plaguing the Park for decades. Click the Everglades geocaching #3.

 

For Park Employee Geocache #4, the coordinates are: N 25º 23.458′ W 080º 48.147′. This is a deceptive landscape with surprise. Click the Everglades geocaching #4.

 

For Park Employee Geocache #5, the coordinates are: N N 25º 08.274′ W 080º 55.935′. This will take you on a scenic route of the shoreline. You will face the problem of the costs of beach-front access. Click the Everglades geocaching #5.

 

To play in the Everglades and for more information, you can register at geocaching.com to seek caches and log entries, but it is not required. Here is the direct geocaching in the Everglades link.

 

Book An Airboat Tour in the Everglades

If Everglades’ serious issues or playing games interests you, geocaching is a fun activity to do. If you’re looking to explore the Everglades in a different way, jump on an airboat tour before or after geocaching. To make a reservation, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 800-368-0065 or click our Everglades airboat tours page.

 

Invasive Species Profile: Old World Climbing Fern

You know the expression, “Don’t judge a book by its cover?” Well, this is true for many of the plant and animal species in the Everglades. It may be beautiful on the outside, but it’s causing the ecosystem it lives in great harm. Invasive species, both animals and plants, can wipe out native species in the Everglades. Researchers and Park officials work to tame and eliminate such species from the Park.

For this article we wanted to focus on the invasive plant species: Old World climbing fern also known as lygodium microphyllum. The Old World climbing fern is native to Africa, Southeast Asia, the South Pacific Islands, and Australia.

This plant has wiry twinning fronds, fern-like, triangular-shape leaflets. The fronds can grow to 90 feet long. Their stems are dark brown. The plant has two types of leaves and one of them has spores that spread in the wind.

This plant grows aggressively and spreads; it dominates native vegetation by forming a dense canopy. It can grow up and over trees, and smother shrubs and trees below it. It keeps other plants from thriving and growing by blocking out nutrients and sunlight. Currently, it has taken over more than 200,000 acres in south Florida. In many places, you can’t even see another plant because of how densely the fern has covered everything around it. The fern’s roots can even change the water flow in the area.

In south Florida and the Everglades, the fern can grow in bald cypress stands, pine flatwoods, wet prairies, saw grass marshes, mangroves, and tree islands.

Fires and this fern don’t go well together. Whether a wildlife or planned burn, these ferns act like a fire and can carry the fire places you don’t want it to go, which means it can kill native trees.

If left alone, this plant could be infesting more than 2 million acres in the years to come.

This plant is federally regulated to keep it from completely overtaking the native plant life. The USDA approved the use of insects to keep the fern contained.

Explore the Everglades by Airboat

The Old World Climbing Fern may look pretty, but it can be lethal for native plants of the Everglades, which we want to keep alive.

If you’re interested in seeing the native and invasive plants covering the Everglades, an airboat tour is a great way to see a vast glimpse of it all. Captain Mitch and his team have years of experience navigating through the wetland, and can point out lots of plant life to you.  To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.

 

Everglades Safety Info to Remember

The Everglades is a National Park, so it is open for all of us to enjoy it, but it’s also home to wild plants and animals. Nature is unpredictable, from the weather to the terrain, so it’s important when we explore a natural environment that we proceed with caution and we follow guidelines given by the Park. We want to be respectful of the Park and plant and animal species that live within it.

By following Park rules, you are keeping animals, plants, the environment, and yourself safe. Whether you’re taking an airboat tour, walking trails, camping, or kayaking, you should keep safety in mind while in the Park.

Below, we wanted to share some of the Everglades National Park’s safety rules no matter that need to be followed and respected throughout the year.

  • Dress appropriately for the weather. Depending on the time of year, it can get exceedingly hot or rainy.
  • Bring water.
  • Wear bug repellant and longer-sleeved clothing to keep bugs from biting you on the trails. Wear lighter color clothing.
  • Keep to the trails and pavement to avoid bugs or running into wildlife.
  • Watch children carefully.
  • Pets are not allowed on the trails.
  • Feeding wildlife is illegal.
  • Don’t park near vultures and notify a Park ranger if one is near your car. Vultures can be aggressive.
  • Do not harm or touch any wildlife.
  • If you have a bonfire (camping), don’t leave it alone.
  • Do not tie/attach anything to trees or shrubs.
  • Take garbage with you or dispose of it properly.

Stay Safe in the Everglades

The Park has a lot more rules than the above, but these are just some basics to keep you safe during a trip to explore the Park. If you wanted more specific rules about camping, fishing, trails and more, visit the Everglades Park website.

By following these safety rules, you will have a more fun and safe trip. Looking for something to do in the Everglades? Take an airboat tour! Riding on an airboat is a safe way to explore the Everglades. Captain Mitch has decades of experience navigating through the wetland. To book an airboat trip in the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.

 

 

Ecosystems in the Everglades

The Everglades isn’t just an ecosystem. It has many different ecosystems within it. For this article, we wanted to share with you some details of the many ecosystems within the Everglades.

Coastal lowlands/prairies – Coastal lowlands and prairies are found on the west coast of the Everglades inland from Florida Bay. These inlands are formed from inland movement of mud that occurs during major storms and hurricanes. Salt-tolerant plants and desert-type plants grow in this area.

Freshwater sloughs – Freshwater sloughs are deep, marshy rivers that deliver major water flow of the Everflades that move 100 feet per day. The Park’s two major sloughs are the Shark River Slough and the Taylor Slough and they both empty into Florida Bay.

Freshwater marl prairies –  These prairies are on both the east and west sides of the Everglades bordering the deep sloughs. A marl is a thin, chalky soil made of calcium carbonate on top of limestone bedrock. The water here is shallow. There is a lot of low vegetation in these prairies.

Marine – Marine ecosystems in the Everglades include mangroves, reefs, seagrass beds, estuaries, and bays. The water drains into the Gulf of Mexico and Florida Bay.

Mangroves – Mangroves are salt-tolerant trees and thrive in rivers and other bodies of water. The Everglades is home to the largest protected mangrove forest in the northern hemisphere. The Everglades is home to red, black, and white mangroves. Birds nest in the mangroves. The mangroves are also great at protecting the land/shore from hurricanes.

Pine forests – Pine forests are found often in limestone. The Park schedules regular burns to keep these pines healthy.

Cypress trees – These trees live in standing water and are often found in “solution holes,” which is pitted terrain formed in broken, porous rock.

Hardwood hammock – A hardwood hammock is an older hardwood forest found on elevated ground of “tree islands.” They don’t flood usually because of the elevation.

Explore the Everglades Ecosystem by Airboat

On an airboat tour, you get a chance to go by many of these ecosystems and see them up close!  To schedule an airboat trip when you’re visiting the Everglades, call Captain Mitch’s Airboat Tours at 239-695-3377 or click Everglades airboat tour page.