Florida Day Eight: Key Largo. An Opossum, A Spider And A Lot Of Birds On My Last Hike In South Florida.

Florida Day Eight: Key Largo. An Opossum, A Spider And A Lot Of Birds On My Last Hike In South Florida.

Florida Day Eight Dagney Johnson (5 of 36)
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I awoke early on my last day in Key Largo and South Florida this year.  I wanted to get in one last hike at the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park before I headed north to Fort  Lauderdale. I was staying near the airport  my  last night in Florida.  I had seen many song birds early in the morning on hikes  at this park in previous year. It was about a 10 minute drive from my resort at this early hour with no traffic. It could be a 1/2 drive in rush hour. It  was  partly sunny and warm when I arrived at the park a little  before the sun rise. The temperatures were already in the low 70’s. 

I  quickly hiked under canopy of hardwood trees in the hammock to the trail to the  trail along the bay.  I wanted to get to the  ocean  in time to watch the sun rise. 

I was disappointed there were no wading  birds seen on the half mile walk.  I  missed the sunrise,

but was still treated with a beautiful show.  Nature always puts on a great show at sunrise and sunset when the skies are even partial clear. 

After watching the sunrise  I walked along the wetlands area and was again disappointed I didn’t see any wildlife. I thought I would at least see some herons wading  in the shallow waters. I  continued my walk into an area where the hardwood trees of the sub-tropical hammock  meet the lower mangrove trees growing closer to the waters of the ocean. 

I have seen song birds here before and did again on my walk on Saturday. And there were quite a few of them. I am convinced that it is the woodpeckers (and back home in Northeastern Pennsylvania woodpeckers and black-capped chickadees)  that provide a sort of security  alarm for other birds. I heard a red bellied woodpecker in the trees. I didn’t see it but I did see this pretty white-eyed vireo,

a prairie warble, 

a great crested flycatcher, always a beautiful bird  to to see  , usually perched high on a tree top, 

another more common  smaller flycatcher, an eastern phoebe, and 

a blue-gray gnatcatcher fluttering in the trees. I believe the woodpeckers, who are usual high in the tree tops, and cry out if they see a predator act as security guards for other birds.

There were also  quite a few  Northern cardinals  in the same vicinity, this is the brightly colored male,

and this the female. I am familiar with all of the birds from my hikes in my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania and it was nice to see them in South Florida. 

The red-bellied woodpecker I heard earlier made an appearance too. 

It appeared to be  searching for, 

and finding berries  in a dead  tree trunk that it must have stored there earlier, 

The woodpecker appeared to be really enjoying these treats I believe it must have hidden at some earlier time. I know they do this in the north but  I’m not sure in  South Florida. 

But this I know. They are beautiful birds.

After watching the red-bellied woodpecker I continued my hike past the wetlands where I saw the juvenile ibises on my previous hike. I didn’t see an ibis but I did see this tri-colored heron. And I saw a few more of the prairie warblers, cardinals, and a great crested flycatcher  on the trails.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my last hike in South Florida. Florida: Key Largo Dagny Johnson Hammock Botanical State park birds. February 18 2022. 

Since it was a warm morning there were also a few brown anole lizards scampering  on the ground along the trail.

It was already a  great hike on which to end my visit to South Florida. And the park had one more surprise in store for me. As I walked back to the parking area a young opossum slowly  sauntered across the trail, 

and stopped as if to let me take a photo being moving on.  Last year on the last day I saw a raccoon in the same area. 

I finished up my three mile hike seeing, a few orb weaver spiders,

this sea oxeye  flower,

and a cluster of beauty  berries growing near the parking areas. A perfect end for my hike and visit to Key Largo. It is a great park and I  will be back, God willing, to hike it again many time in the coming years. I love South Florida. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my last walk in South Florida, this year, I will be back. Florida: Key Largo Dagny Johnson State park. February 18 2022. 

I returned to my resort, the Bar Harbor and Coconut Bay Resort , in time to enjoy a cup of coffee and one of their wonderful complimentary scones served every morning, before I packed and checked out. I was soon on the road on my way to Fort Lauderdale, but not before making one more stop for a great at a unique eating spot along the way. More on that in my next, and final blog from my Florida trip. 


“The joy of life comes from our encounters with new experiences, and hence there is no greater joy than to have an endlessly changing horizon, for each day to have a new and different sun.” – Alexander Supertramp McCandless


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