The following morning we headed back to Everglades National Park after getting a good night’s sleep. When we went out to the car we saw the Muscovy Duck hanging around the parking lot. It liked to drink from the puddles formed by the sprinklers, and snooze in the shade of the cars parked outside of the motel. However, it appeared that the main attraction was the food – some sort of cereal or cracked corn – that someone had left out in a parking space right outside one of the motel rooms. It was certainly neat to see the duck hanging around like an unofficial motel guest, and, as we weren’t returning to Florida City after our return trip to Everglades National Park, we said goodbye to the Muscovy Duck one last time before we left.
After leaving the Visitor Center we headed to the Anhinga Trail because I’d heard it was a great spot for both birds and alligators, and because it was close by – the other trails I wanted to see, such as Eco Pond, were an hour’s drive away. As we drove through the park the landscape appeared very flat and grassy; we were only a few feet above sea level. There were some trees scattered about, but overall we didn’t see much wildlife, unless you counted the giant grasshoppers on the road, and the crows and Red-winged Blackbirds foraging along the shoulder – presumably feasting on the road-killed grasshoppers.
By 10:45 we were on our way to Everglades National Park. Our route took us through a large agricultural area west of Homestead; I spotted some distant gulls with black heads in the fields, but couldn’t identify them as they were too far away. I kept an eye on the telephone wires for Loggerhead Shrikes and flycatchers, but saw only doves and grackles. Doran noticed a couple of small birds dive-bombing a larger bird in flight; when he asked what they were doing I said, “It looks like they are attacking some sort of raptor”. To our amazement the birds flew toward us, and passed right overhead, giving me fantastic views of my first Swallow-tailed Kite. It was a large, graceful bird with a white body, pointed white wings outlined in black, and a characteristic forked tail. I asked Doran to pull over but there was no shoulder and we had to drive a bit before we found a small pull-off by a farm road. By the time I got out of my car with my camera the bird was gone.