Friday, April 24, 2009

It's a Jungle Out There

One thing you discover quickly about bike riding in South Florida is that you're bound to run into some interesting critters along the way. Just the other day, I saw a black duck standing on the back of a white duck -- just standing, no monkey business -- out in the middle of a pond. Moments later, as I was winding my way through one of our parks, I heard a rustling off to my side. When I looked over to see what the commotion was all about, I spotted at least a dozen, yard-long iguanas, shuffling alongside a stream. I didn't have my camera that day. But I made sure to take it along this morning when I rode out to Brian Piccolo Park, which was named in memory of the former Chicago Bears football player who died of cancer at age 26. If you saw the tearjerker "Brian's Song," you know who I'm talking about.

The park has wonderful facilities, everything from softball diamonds to a velodrome. But it also contains a wide variety of wildlife. My favorites are the burrowing owls, which are indigenous to the area. They're small (about 10 inches in height), have yellow eyes and are skittish about us humans. Approach too closely and they duck into the safety of their burrows right quick. Here's a couple I found out on my ride this morning:

A little further down the path, I saw the aforementioned iguanas running for cover into the reeds. Some of these guys scoot using only their hind legs. They were too quick for this shutterbug and they got away before I could fire off a frame. But not every reptile in the park managed to escape my lens. I found this Cuban Anole looking for morsels on a tree. I happen to have a Cuban lizard living in the tree in my front yard and, after hearing that they can be aggressive, I push the lawnmower a little quicker whenever I'm underneath the branches. They're not as large as an iguana, but at a foot in length they're not exactly the little, finger-sized brown lizards that my cats love to chase and pester:

Last but not least on my biking junket, a green parrot. This guy/gal? was up in a tree with a twig in its mouth. Not the greatest shot in the world, but it was as close as he/she would allow me to get. I was told by one of the park employees that the parrots are migratory and make four stops a year at the park:

Next, I'm thinking of trying the Shark Valley bike trail in the Everglades but am having a bit of trouble finding a biking buddy to join me. It might have something to do with the alligators that like to sun along the paved, 15-mile trail. But you'd have to ask them.


  1. I love that in the Everglades there are canoe routes. Overnight canoe routes, that include floating tent sites. What I don't understand is exactly how they work. There are giant gator proof containers for your food, and you sleep away the night in a giant nylon taco shell. Hmmmmmmm.....

  2. Alligators and it's name is Shark Valley??? um... count me out!

    Thankfully I live in CA where we only have Sharks ;)

  3. Great adventure, but what made me comment is this over on the right side: "We Have No Idea What These Do."

    NEITHER DO I! I have them on my blog too because I thought they were important. I even signed up for them myself -- and then nothing happened. Nothing that I can tell.

  4. Just guessing, but maybe gators are turned off by nylon, Oreneta. C'mon, Red, it's only a bike ride with a few hazards thrown in. As for those "things" off to the side, Rose, you'll have to ask J.G. She knows more about that stuff than I do.


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