Our Return Visit to Shark Valley

We’ve been really busy since Matt & Sarah arrived last week.  The weather has turned cooler since they arrived but we are still seeing some sun every day.  We had a wonderful Christmas and kept Chris’s tradition of opening one gift each on Christmas Eve.  Christmas morning we had a nice breakfast before opening our presents.  Chris & Sarah then got to work cooking up a fabulous Christmas dinner while Matt & I behaved ourselves by not eating too much junk before supper.  The kids have taken advantage of the pool here at Tanglewood when the sun is out.  Chris has also had them over to Ellington for shopping as there isn’t much shopping here in Sebring.

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Anhinga Anhinga - Male - Breeding Plumage

Male Anhinga in Breeding Colors

Yesterday, we headed on a 360 mile road trip down to Shark Valley in the Everglades followed by a visit to Ron Jon’s Surf Shop in Fort Myers, a quick trip into Cape Coral to see the burrowing owls (we struck out though), and finally back to Tanglewood.  We left home just after 8 am  and didn’t get back until almost 9 pm.  It was a very long day but most enjoyable.  Many thanks to our great neighbors, Doug & Joanne, for dog sitting Teddy while we were away and for also taking in our awnings when the wind came up while we were away.  Shark Valley was very busy.  In fact we had to park on the shoulder of Hwy 41 and walk into the park.  The entry fee was $10 per car load and then another $20 each for a guided tram ride to the viewing tower within the park.  Our guide was very knowledgeable and we learned that this area of the Everglades is really a very slow moving fresh water river and not a swamp.  I had my camera with me as usual and managed to get a nice shot of a male Anhinga in breeding colors.  Not a bad shot from the tram as we drove back from the viewing tower.

Alligator PortraitAlligator Portrait

Chris & I last visited Shark Valley about 4 years ago and recall seeing about thirty alligators nesting on the banks of the river at the base of the viewing tower.  Yesterday we saw only half a dozen alligators by the tower and only a few more near the visitor center.  There was a five footer with his mouth open laying on the grass next to river.  I grabbed this back lit shot as we were leaving the park.  Just the usual tweaking in Photoshop CS6 along with an application of the oil painting filter.  I kind of like this effect.  Enjoy today’s photos!