|Watercolor of sugarcane field, canals edge, and smoking sugar factory along old route 27|
|Pahokee marina campground|
the Florida Trail along the rim. Construction is estimated to close sections of the trail through 2019.
Driving my Hyundai along the highway we noticed the ground of the landscape changing intermittently from white and sandy (this central Florida used to be seashore a gazillion years ago) to dark and loamy (the product of Everglades rich natural compost). Sod seemed to be planted and harvested to the east, and Domino Sugar cane to the west of the highway. We passed three prisons run by GEO, multiple trailer parks, cattle ranches, and two huge sugar factories pumping out smoke.
We spoke to a fellow at the railroad tracks (where we waited for one of the 5 daily trains full of cane sugar to pass) who told us that the factories worked round the clock on three shifts. Most of the traffic on the highway was large trucks or smaller ones pulling motorboats.
|Northern most point of the lake|
By early afternoon we passed where the Kissimee river meets the lake at the northernmost tip, and we witnessed a dramatic osprey fish kill. We passed fields of cattle resting under palm trees and mossy oaks and were on the lookout for the rare Audobon Crested Caracara. Turning down an access way called Indian Prarie we came upon a flock of endangered wood storks, great egrets, a kingfisher and grebes. Pecking daintily along the shore was a flock of black necked stilts. Out on the lake surface we scanned fishermen and coots, brown common ducks, common moorhens, and Anhingas in our binoculars. The shore was riddled with wild papaya, and it was there that we got our first sighting of a Limpkin and a red wing blackbird. Spring is really here!!! I thought of my dad and wished the bird would flee up north to give my family up there some respite from winter. I thought of my grandmother and her love of birding. Songbirds I could not identify filled the shrubs and trees.
It was a safari along the big O. No Crested Caracara this time.