Miami Journal – Wednesday, February 18, 2009

I am drawn repeatedly to the Everglades, so I went there again today.

The Shark Valley Entrance to the Everglades National Park is a 50-minute drive from my motel, so I went there and took the 2-hour tram ride out to an observation tower and back.

Here is a typical view.

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In a way, it is not very impressive, but then you learn that with 1.5 million acres this is the third largest national park, and it has the greatest biodiversity, and there are nine habitats here (an elevation of only two or three feet makes a different habitat), and over 400 species of birds nest here – and this place grows on you.

I keep looking for an elusive, uncommon waterbird called the limpkin. It would be a new species to add to my life list (yes, avid birders keep an actual list). But the limpkins have joined in a conspiracy. “Whenever Hawbaker shows up, let’s all hide.” And so far, it’s working great for them. I see egrets and herons and osprey and purple gallinules and palm warblers, but no limpkins.

Another rare bird (and it’s on the endangered species list) is the snail kite. But I manage to see them frequently. Here comes one now.

snail-kite

Isn’t that an incredible view?! I do not do bird photography. This image is the work of Jim Neiger, found not bythe click of a camera, but by the click of Google.

The snail kite eats apple snails; it has a sharply hooked beak designed to open the snail shell and get at the meat.

And everywhere you go, you see hordes of these.

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It’s the boat-tailed grackle. Its feathers are iridescent in the sunlight, so the creature is beautiful, but in huge numbers they chatter and screech and “jeeb,” and generally disrupt the peace. Not my number one favorite Florida bird. Certainly not endangered!

I said I don’t do bird photography. I don’t have special lenses and probably not enough patience. But these nuisance grackles are tame enough that they come close to humans, so I did snap teh\\he grackle photo.

Back to the Everglades park tour, we learned a lot about the Miccosukee tribe, who have lived in the Everglades for two hundred years, and some still live there. They are a separate nation, not part of the US.

As for my missions work (the real reason for coming to Florida, as you will recall – but you may have wondered, judging from all this nature commentary) I had lunch today (at a Cuban restaurant, La Carreta) with Mark and Annette Cintron.

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They are part of Vida Abundante BIC Church and are in preparation for missionary service, likely in Spain.

In the evening, Bishop Ed and I went to the service at Bethel Church. This is the first congregation that Ed started in Miami, over 20 years ago, meeting first in homes and then in a store space in a shopping center. Now the congregation has this attractive building.

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The current pastor is Emilio Batista, but he is sick today, so a young man – a member of the church -preached – an excellent message on “Do not be dismayed” – a long message in comparison to the typical English-speaking church. He spoke for an hour and twenty minutes, in a service that began at 8:00 and ended at 10:10.

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One Response

  1. Beautiful. … to God be the glory for His Creation and the unfolding of the work of His Kingdom.

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