This massive beehive, complete with buzzing inhabitants I didn’t get close enough to for you to see in the photo, was along the shore on Fisheating Creek, a lovely waterway that winds through extensive cypress swamps and hardwood forest hammocks in rural Florida west of Lake Okeechobee. It’s just south of Palmdale (blink and you’ll miss it). The two youngsters in our group counted 40 alligators during our four-hour paddle (hey, it kept them busy). Birds were plentiful: wood storks, great blue heron, yellow-crowned night heron, anhinga, osprey, kingfisher, little blue heron, tricolored heron, and egrets of all sizes. And a huge flowering bush full of Monarch butterflies.
It was good to get back out into Florida nature after a season in the Northeast, but I was reminded it is not advisable to paddle too close to shore, as I do in the north. As I rounded a bend with the left side of the canoe brushing the weeds there was a tremendous thrash, crash and splash just in front of me and the boat rocked with the waves that were kicked up as an alligator scrambled to get into the water and out of my way. I was glad I was moving slowly and I was glad I didn’t have a bow partner along when it happened.
This trip was put together by Sierra Club outing leaders from three different groups here in South Florida, the Loxahatchee Group, the Broward Group and the Miami Group. We were joined by a couple of folks from the Suwanee-St. John’s Group, up in Gainesville.