An Awesome Day On Big Pine Key: A Sunrise Walk , A Lot Of Birds, Key Deer And An Afternoon Storm.

An Awesome Day On Big Pine Key: A Sunrise Walk , A Lot Of Birds, Key Deer And An Afternoon Storm.

Florida Day Four Big Pine Morining Hikes (18 of 36)
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I was only there for less than two days , but I had already fallen in love with Big Pine Key. I loved  the seclusion,  the desolate beaches, and the wildlife. I didn’t think it could get any  better, but it did!  I awoke early again on Friday morning.  I  returned to my now favorite hiking trail along the beach . There were some clouds on the horizon as I started out on the trail through the salt flats to the remote beach. It was a lot warmer too, with temperatures in the 70’s already.  

Although I hadn’t seen a human on my hikes here, there  sure was evidence I wasn’t the only living creature walking on the trail. Their were all kind of foot prints on the muddy trail. Most were birds, but some were deer and, I think some were racoons. 

The clouds along the horizon obscured the sunrise and added to the desolate feeling of the beach. 

The gray clouds contrasted with the greens of the bay cedar growing above the shore. 

This morning I walked out on the coral looking for seashells, 

and I found some  pretty one. I can roam on the shores  of any beach for hours searching for the treasures the waves brought in. 

I walked into the grove of dead trees, probably  the results of one of the recent hurricanes. They trees and clouds  made for some somber, but beautiful scenery

I wasn’t the only living creature on the beach. There were many shorebirds, also searching the shores for hidden treasure. They were looking for food. They included  a few least sandpipers, 

ruddy turnstones, 

a black-bellied plover, I think. This is was my Merlin bird identification app is saying it is but I am not sure,

a few short-billed dowitchers, 

and a willet. I was amazed at the variety of shore birds on the beach. 

The sun finally rose above the clouds, illuminating the beach.

I had a feeling, with the warmer temperature,  that there may be some birds wading in the ponds, so I left the beach,

and on my way through the wooded dunes I saw this beautiful great white egret perched in a tree,

 I was able to photograph it as it flew away. 

I also saw a gray catbird ,

and palm warblers in the vegetation. It was already a great morning for bird watching and it would get better. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw along the shore on my morning walk on the shore. Florida Day Four. Big Pine Key sunrise walk birds. January 13 2023 

I left the shore and walked to the ponds in the salt flats above the beach. It was a warm morning and I thought the wadding birds would be here but I was surprised to find far more than I expected. It was amazing to see so many beautiful and exotic birds in one place.

Like the day before there were mostly white ibises and

tricolored herons,. There were dozens of these birds wadding in the water. 

There were also snowy egrets,

white egrets and 

 reddish egrets  in the large flocks of wadding birds. 

And, as I watched the many birds scurrying in the pond I saw this beautiful bird, one of my Florida favorites, a roseate spoonbill.

There was only one but it’s pretty pink  colors stood out in the large flock of birds. 

It was  near 8:30 a.m., that is when breakfast is served at the Barnacle Bed and Breakfast,  and it is a good  breakfast with nice company and conversation. So I had to leave the wadding birds. On my walk back to my vehicle I saw on more wadding birds. a green heron. I love seeing these birds in the wetlands neat my home. 

Once again I had an enjoyable breakfast and a pleasant conversation at breakfast, and

once again I drove back to the trail soon after. The sun was now shining and it was warmer. Most of large flock of wading birds had left the pond. I few white ibises remained including this juvenile. 

I walked back to the shore, and  there weren’t many shore birds there now either. 

I did see  another white egret, this one, or maybe it was the same one , wading along the beach, 

and watched it fly away as I approached. I could walk along the beach for hours looking for birds and other cool stuff and just enjoying the beauty of the bluer waters of the ocean. 

A few yellow-rumped warblers were still on the beach.

I also saw this lazy brown pelican,

yawning on a pond above the shore, exposing it’s large mouth used  for catching fish.  Here is a link to some more of the  birds I saw on my morning walks on Big Pine Key. Florida Day Four Big Pine Key birds January 13 2023. 

I left the beach and walked on the trail along the salt flats.

It was now late morning  and I didn’t see any birds or key deer. Only this common buckeye butterfly.

But my wildlife sightings weren’t over. I took the short drive back to my lodging and was greeted by this key deer buck. He is known as Spike by the local folks in the area.

He and a few does were foraging along the beach. I watched this small white tail deer and I know I will be seeing them on my future visit to the Sunshine State. I love these tiny cousins of the whitetail deer that visit my yard in Pennsylvania. Here is a link to  a gallery with some more photos from my morning walks on Big Pine Key. Florida Day Four Big Pine Key morning hikes January 13 2023. 

Well the Sunshine State didn’t remain sunny for long. After editing some photos I actually decided to catch some sun on the beach. Just as I sat in the sun,    clouds started moving in. . So I walked over to the canal to look for the manatees. In a few minutes darker storm clouds approached

I made it back to me room  just as a torrential rain began to fall.

I watched the rain fall and learned there was a cold front passing through the keys. I wasn’t going to sit  in my room all afternoon and watch the rain,  so I took a drive and explored Big Pine Key  I stopped at the National Key Deer Refuge Visitor Center and learned a lot more about the key deer and the habitat.

I drove around the key in the rain and  out to  No Name Key. The rains stopped and  I found a trail to hike.

I walked under the cloudy skies through the wet vegetation including seagrapes,

saw palmetto and

 the dreaded poison wood trees. 

The only wildlife I would see were a few turkey vultures, and  this yellow -rumped warbler. It was a nice hike and I am sure there would be more wildlife early in the morning. 

The clouds cleared, and the sun appeared  as I finished my hike. 

It was now  late afternoon and I was hungry. I happened to pass the famous No Name Pub on my drive so I stopped in for a delicious bowl of conch chowder,


and a blackened yellow fin tuna  sandwich. It was good. 

And it was cold. I sat outside and  there was a cold wind  dropping the temperature. I decided to but a No Name Pub hoodie. It was a good decision. I left the Pub and returned to my lodging,

where I watched the sunset but didn’t stay outside. It was way to cold for the keys, temperatures were near 60 degrees  with a very strong wind.  It was my last night on Big Pine Key. I was sad thinking about leaving but I was already making plans to return.  Here is a gallery from my afternoon hike on Big Pine Key. Florida Day Four. Big Pine Key afternoon January 13 2023.

“Study nature, love nature, stay close to nature. It will never fail you.”   – Frank Lloyd Wright

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