The Snake Bite

High tide would be at 3:00 PM at Flamingo, a little later at Snake Bight. It was 12:30 PM now and we were just putting the boat in the water at the Flamingo dock. It was a 13’ Boston Whaler with a 10 HP motor that quite candidly had seen better days.  But it was more than adequate for Larry, Phillip and I to motor through the Snake Bight Channel.  The boat ride would last around 50 minutes. I was glad to have Phillip along again; yesterday he was a good luck charm and hopefully that luck would carry over to today.  We knew that the flamingo was lounging and feeding in the Bight. Pete Frezza told me in a phone conversation that he and a colleague saw an American Flamingo there on Aug 1, based on an earlier report by Garl Harrold. The bird was found in the spot that they typically hang out in the summer at low tide, about half way across the Bight, all the way in the back, just off the mangroves. We figured that with high tide the flamingo would be pushed towards the dock at the end of the snake bight trail. I sure didn’t want to walk the trail in August! It’s known for its large concentration of mosquitoes more than for anything else.  A “bight” is a bay within a bay so there was a wicked double meaning here. What would complicate the trip is that as of this year all of the Bight, except for the channel, is now a pole/troll zone.  We would have to pole or paddle a distance.  How far and long depended totally on where the flamingo was located.

The boat ride through Florida Bay in Everglades National Park went fine. In fact we saw an American Crocodile, a life reptile for me.  By 1:30 PM we were as far as we could motor into the bight. Standing 6’ 5” on the boat, I could clearly see the dock at the end of the Snake Bight Trail and much further in the distance a pink form near the waters edge.  However, sitting down Larry could not see anything through the telescope he’d brought because of the curve of the earth.  We’d have to pole or paddle  in further, at least another 400 yards or so.

We eventually settled in a very shallow area of the bay. Rosette Spoonbills were visible in a tree, but they were well to the right of our pink thing.  Larry got the scope set and just then our pink thing raised it’s head revealing the long neck of an American Flamingo.  What kept racing through my mind was, wow, I had completed the grand slam – flamingo and ani , plus one mega rarity.

I leave tomorrow for Colorado, though tonight I’ll search for Florida Panther.  I want to thank Larry and Phillip, the human good luck charm.  If I return once again to Florida this year, it would be for some Bahamian rarity.  Hopefully Phillip can join me!

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