shrew site, Everglades
While on a birding trip in Florida in mid-December, I picked up a few new mammals, and the site information may be of mild interest.
(1) What I assume by range, habitat, size, and actions were Southern Short-tailed Shrews (Blarina carolinensis) were fairly common at a site in the Everglades at dusk. There’s a short nature trail called Mahogany Hammock, half way between the Homestead entrance and the marina at Flamingo. Going counterclockwise on that trail, about a third of the way along is a sign-posted mahogany immediately adjacent to the boardwalk. At the base of the tree on the north side was a mouse hole that turned out to be a shrew hole. Just at dusk (and with Barred Owls calling), a shrew came out, paused, went back in, and came out again. Others were active in leaf litter nearby.
As a side note, the python depredation is indeed visible and real: night drives produced nothing, day hikes produced nothing, looking for roadkill produced nothing. Other than humans, it’s an eerily mammal-free zone.
(2) Seminole Bats (ID based on shape, size, flight style, and time of emergence) were around the parking lot at the cypress boardwalk trail at Highlands Hammock State Park at dusk.
As a different side note, 4 a.m. night drives around the park surroundings turned up about six ‘possums an hour and about four armadillos an hour. Raccoons were out in the daytime in the park and also at Corkscrew Swamp, the famous Audubon reserve. No bobcats anywhere in a week of birding, though we were told they’re seen at Corkscrew about once a week.
(3) It may seem a bit touristy to mention manatees, but these were a lifer for me. Reportedly present from mid-Nov to mid-March at this site, in December there were about a dozen from the Tampa Electric Company’s viewing platform. A few were also visible with a scope further up the channel. Two were at the Flamingo Marina in Everglades Park as well. Supposedly at high counts at the Tampa Power Plant site, up to 300 congregate at once.
—Charles Hood, Palmdale California
Mahogany Hammock loop has always been the most reliable site in the Everglades for cotton mice and hispid cotton rats. I’ve been there countless times and only saw a shrew once. I wonder if they are now taking over rat burrows.
Note that Blarina shrews from S Florida have been split into a separate species, Everglades shrew (B. peninsulae).
Nice report, Charles, thanks. I thought the manatees at Tampa Electric were wonderful, I got to see porpoising and the odd looking tail.
Yes, it is so sad at how few mammals are in Everglades N.P. now. I went there regularly from the mid ’80’s to the early 2000’s and remember the many mammals I used to see during the day and especially at night. Now you don’t see anything at all. The last time I was there not a single mammal was seen. It’s still a wonderful place for herps, birds and plants, but I miss the mammals. I don’t expect to see any mammals when I’m down there for the turkey day week this month.
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The only mammals I’ve ever seen night driving the everglades were funnily enough the last thing I was expecting: a pair of coyotes.
Plenty of other wildlife to see at night though.