The last half of the week is in a different part of the park that’s home to even more species of wildlife. The Flamingo area of the park, while devoid of flamingos, is the only place in the United States where alligators and crocodiles share the same habitat. Luckily we catch a glimpse of a pair of crocodiles exactly where I expect them to be.
On our driving wildlife safari on the way out of the park, we spot several species that we stop to photograph. A red-shouldered hawk poses in perfect light on a dead tree and down the road, we see a wood stork wading in the sawgrass. All week long, the photo opportunities were nearly endless.
On the last day of the trip, we make the drive back towards the airport but stop at a place to photograph more birds. Alligators are present and a variety of wading birds flit about the marshland. I stand reflecting on the winter’s trips here to this magical area and in the tree next to me, a new bird appears. I photograph it and make a note of the species. Before we load the van one last time, I make a final count: eighty-two species of birds and wildlife photographed. When I combine the total with other species of wildlife we saw on earlier trips this season, the number rises to nearly 100 species.
Not a bad take for a week’s work.