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With a fleet of station wagons and three powerboats, the National Audubon Society is operating five different tours which probe the flatlands, the marshlands and the waterways of south Florida in search of many of the birds shown in David Goodnow's striking photographs on the previous pages. Most Audubon tours cost $25 for two-day trips, just over half that for one-day trips. Meals and lodging are extra.
One may, for example, in the term of one long day, depart Miami by Audubon station wagon, a uniformed guide at the wheel, and drive south to Everglades National Park. About eight miles from Homestead, along Route 27, the naturalists have built a boardwalk, known as Anhinga Trail, which stretches over a slough—a marshland of water, lily pads and birds. Purple gallinules, American egrets and snowy egrets, Louisiana herons and great blue herons stalk the slough, and the snakelike heads of the anhingas ripple the water there. Alligators lie in the solarium of the shore, disturbing their siesta only to make lunch of a garfish which is sometimes uncautious enough to leap with foolhardy exhilaration through the sunlit Florida air.
In the afternoon the station wagon rolls south to Tavernier below Key Largo, where the society's 30-foot cruiser is based. With Audubon Guide Ed Rowell at the helm and Bill Jerr on the glasses, the other day, we skimmed out into Florida Bay, a great sun washed catch basin of islands, sand bars and birds pinched between the southern tip of Florida and the string of keys. Bill Jerr was on the glasses when a lady watcher said to him, "What's that, Bill?"
"That's a box."
"No, I mean in front."
"Oh, wait a minute, wait a minute.... There's a reddish egret for you."
Every glass on the boat was turned on the egret now. He paraded like a guard at Buckingham Palace.
"There's my reddish egret," a lady said, with the satisfaction of a matron whose husband has at last come up with the mink. "I was dying to get a reddish egret."
We crossed a shallow channel, which the Audubon navigators had gouged with their ships last year, and floated into a soft milky green pond ringed by a circle of mangrove keys. Young spoonbills, not yet pink, were white splotches in the green bush. Their bright pink elders were soaring in circles round the key. A snowy egret glided overhead, with a little blue heron as his wingman, and a fat pelican sailed a small lagoon like a sightseeing boat steaming around Manhattan.
A TWO-DAY TOUR