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Everglades

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The Florida Everglades is a tropical marshland that extends from Lake Okeechobe[?] on the north, to the Florida Straits on the south. It has been called the River of Grass because there is a slow flow of water from the lake south and the principal plant is the sedge[?] known as sawgrass[?]. The higher points in this extremely flat area are covered with trees.

Some 50% of the original Everglades have been lost to agriculture. Most of the rest is now protected in a number of national parks.Water from the Everglades is still used as water supply for major cities in the areas such as Miami.

Everglades National Park preserves the southern portion of the Everglades, and represents 20% of the original wetlands. It covers 1.5 million acres and is a World Heritage Site. The only access is the SR9336 running 38 miles from Florida City to the coast at Flamingo. Excluding the main Visitor Centre and some smaller park facilities, there is no development apart from the latter small settlement.

There are a number of car parks and trails in the Park, of which the most famous is the Anhinga trail. This trail allows very close approach to the birds such as herons and the Anhinga. The latter birds will perch on the rails of the boardwalk. The picture below shows part of the trail, complete with its namesake bird.

Specialities of the park include Greater Flamingo, usually near Flamingo, short-tailed hawk[?] and smooth-billed ani[?].

Other wading birds such as herons, egrets, wood stork[?], roseate spoonbill[?] and ibises are abundant.

The raptors include the rare snail kite[?] and the very common red-shouldered hawk[?] and osprey.

From Flamingo, the water and mud flats of Florida Bay[?] allow views of pelicans, shorebirds, terns and skimmers.



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