An Early Drive To Flamingo , A Crocodile And My Last Sunset In South Florida

An Early Drive To Flamingo , A Crocodile And My Last Sunset In South Florida

Florida Day Eight Everglades Flamingo (19 of 43)
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I was on the road early Tuesday morning on my recent visit to South Florida. It was my last full day in the Everglades and I was driving to Flamingo,   the southernmost point in the Everglades National Park.    It is about an hour drive from my hotel in Florida City. As usual, I try to be  in the cypress swamp near the Pay-hay-okee overlook to watch the sunrise. I love driving through the desolate everglades in the dark and twilight. 

It was cloudy, and still cool, temperatures were in the low 50’s, when I  left my hotel. 

I pulled along the road. 

and enjoyed the scenery. and 

and waited for sunrise. It wasn’t a spectacular sunrise, but still a beautiful one, they all are. Here is a link to some more photos of the sunrise. Florida Day Eight Everglades sunrise January 17 2023.

After watching the sunrise I continued my drive to Flamingo, stopping at some of the lakes along the way and ponds along the way. This is Paurotis Pond, and this 

Mrazek Pond. The clouds made for some nice scenery. 

There was a Brazilian peppertree  near Marzek Pond.  It is invasive but it’s  red berries attracted dozens of birds, mainly gray catbirds, 

some northern cardinals ,

a few northern mocking birds, 

and this one cedar waxwing who appeared to be checking me out as it peered over the branches.

I  soon arrived at Flamingo and drove to Eco Lake near the campground.  I have seen many wading  and song birds on past visits, including roseate spoonbills. Not on this cool morning  visit. There were no birds wading on the scenic lake. 

I walked around the lake ,

and only saw a few mockingbirds and this American crow. 

I did see some flowers blooming along the trail, including blue mistflower, 

prickly nightshade, 

and coral bean. 

I left the lake, drove through the campground, and through an abandoned campground, where I found the trail head of the  Coastal Prairie Trail. I love this trail ,

especially at the start, when the trail  meanders through Spanish moss draped trees.  This moss is beautiful in the morning sunlight. 

There were also  unique air plants growing on the trees. 

I walked on the Coastal Prairie and left at the Bayshore Loop of the trail.

The trail took me through a thick growth of saltwort,

and to the shore where  there groves of red mangroves grew at the waters edge. 

I walked along the shore. Most years I have seen many wading birds here, including white ibises and wood storks.  I saw no birds on this hike. 

I followed the trail for about a half mile when it looped back to the Coastal Prairie trail. 

It continued into a  salt flat and through a thick growth of saltwort. 

On my previous hikes in prior years, the trail would be dry and sandy. These past hikes were in March. This year the trail was wet and muddy. And there were not as much wildlife. I have seen many song birds, hawks and ospreys here in the past. 

This year I saw only a few birds on my hike .  This  belted kingfisher  that flew overhead, 

and I also saw this red-bellied woodpecker,

a common yellow throat, and 

a few palm warblers, but that was it. This is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos of the birds I saw on my Flamingo visit. Florida Day Eight Everglades Flamingo birds January 17 2023. 

I also saw this cool orchard  orb weaver spider. I usually see a lot more spiders on this hike, and a lot more mosquitoes. There weren’t any mosquitoes out on this cool, windy morning. I  hiked out 2 1/2 miles  on the trail and then returned to the trailhead. 

After finishing my hike on the coastal trail I drove  back to the marina. They are constructing a new visitor center and I hope it is finished my next visit. 

There is an osprey nest at the pier here but the ospreys weren’t very active on this cool morning. 

I was fortunate, and excited  to see  a crocodile swimming in the waters  near the pier. 

I think it was my first sighting of a crocodile in Florida.  This cousins of the alligators can tolerate salt water and live closer to the coast. 

I had decided  to take a boat tour ,  but realized I had to probate a will by zoom  in Pennsylvania in the afternoon.  There was no internet or cell service in Flamingo. I was still doing some work  for  my Law Office while on this trip. It was a good thing  I didn’t get on the boat. I would have never been back in time.  Unfortunately,  I had to end my visit to Flamingo. Here is a gallery with more photos form my hike in Flamingo. Florida Day Eight Everglades Flamingo hike January 17 2023. 

It was l  near noon when I got back to Florida City, too late for breakfast so I stopped at the Gator grill for lunch where I had an excellent  fried grouper sandwich. 

I returned to my room. probated the will by zoom and relaxed at the pool for a little while. It was my last night in the Everglades so I  wanted to watch the sunset somewhere.  So I drove back to the Lucky Hammock parking lot and saw there was also a trail on the canal on the other side of  the highway.   I parked there and learned it was part of the Frog Pond Wildlife Management Area. 

I started walking along the canal and soon realized I should have been on the other side. There were open fields on my side of the canal. On the other side there were trees growing above the canal, and I could see and hear a lot of bird activity in the tree branches.   I didn’t think I would see any wildlife  in the open fields on my side of the canal. I was wrong. As I walked along the deep  blue waters of the canal  I came to a wooded area and here I saw this red shouldered hawk perched on a utility wire. along the trail. 

I  continued my hike and I kept seeing large fish jumping out of the waters of the canal. I tired but couldn’t get a photo the jumping fish. I have no idea what kind they were. After I  hiked out about a mile I  decided to hike back. On the way I saw this male red-winged black bird, also  perched on a utility wire.

It was singing loudly as the sun was starting to set in the west. 

I also saw a few kestrels and, what I at first thought were a couple of hawks.

It as only later, when I was editing my photos that I learned the were white tailed kites. Another first time sighting for me.   I also saw a few kestrels on my walk. 

The sun was setting over the fields.

It was so quiet and peaceful. I was the only one out on the trail. It was a perfect way to end my last full day in the Keys and Everglades. I love this place more every time I visit. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my sunset hike. Florida Day Eight Frog Pond hike January 17 2023. 

Well I am sure you all know where I was headed.. Yep, the Farmers Market. My last meal here started with a garden salad, 

then a delicious and filling seafood pasta. You know it was filling when I didn’t order dessert. I  edited some photos and retired early, looking forward to my last hike in the Everglades in the morning. 

“Those who find beauty in all of nature will find themselves at one with the secrets of life itself.” — L. Wolfe Gilbert

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