Florida Day Eight: Key West. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park And The Botanical Gardens.

Florida Day Eight: Key West. Fort Zachary Taylor State Park And The Botanical Gardens.

Florida Day Seven Key West Fort Zachary Taylor State Park (21 of 50)
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On my recent visit to South Florida, and my second day in Key West, I was looking at the maps  for a new place to watch the sunrise.  I decided Fort Zachary  Taylor State Park would be a great place. I could  watch the sunrise and walk along the beach. So I was up early and drove through the deserted streets of  Key West .  However. like the mouse in  Robert Burns, the Scottish poet,  poem , my plans went array. When I arrived at the park I found the access  road gated.  The park  didn’t open until 8 a.m. 

I hurriedly drove to the Ponce de Leon Pier at the south end of Duval Street to try and catch the rising sun.  I got there in time, however it wasn’t the best place to watch the sunrise. And there were some clouds obscuring the rising  sun.  This was the best  photo I could get. 

I  had parked about a half mile from the pier and enjoyed my walk through the sleepy streets of Key West.

I was able to visit  this famous landmark.  There are long lines here later in the day to get a photo of this landmark, which actually is not  the southern most point. It is a short distance away along the shore. 

I enjoyed seeing the many flowers

and murals  in the streets on my short walk. The folks in Key West like to  decorate their homes and streets. 

I drove back to Fort Zachary Taylor Park and found a line of cars and folks on  foot and bikes waiting to enter.  After a short wait I paid the $4.50 to enter and was soon exploring the park. 

There is  historic fort in the park but I did not get a chance  to walk inside on this visit, 

instead I roamed the beach and surrounding trails. 

The scenic beach was lined with palm trees

and  I was the first one walking there that morning. 

I then walked through  the picnic area and along the Florida Bay side of the park.

Here is saw this iguana basking in the sun,

and a few laughing gulls on  the rocky shoreline. 

There were some wildflowers growing near the shore including golden trumpets, 

beach or Indian blanket flowers and

the flowers of 

a prickly pear cactus. 

The trail took me to a  trail along the moat of the fort

and here I saw a yellow rumped warbler feeding on some berries. 

There were a few blue winged teals swimming in the moat.,

and a flock of white ibises flew overhead.

I walked back to the parking area where I went to work.  I  appeared at an Estate Audit in my county’s Orphan’s Court  by conference call.  Thanks to zoom and other teleconferencing sources, , and an understanding and gracious Judge,   I was able to appear at the hearing in the parking lot. I am able to do a lot work at my law office while traveling post Covid. .  The hearing lasted about 15 minutes and  I was soon roaming the trails by the moat again. It got  hot under the strong Florida sun  and there wasn’t a lot of bird activity.  I did see a few migratory birds in the woodlands including a black and white warbler, 

palm warbler,

a few prairie warblers and,

this pretty northern parula.  Only some  prairie warblers will remain in Florida to breed, the other will be migrating north. I was hoping to see a lot more of  the migratory birds on this trip but I was didn’t see as many as I  expected. I was glad to these few on my walk. 

I also saw  a few of these  Halloween  pennant dragonflies. I see a lot of them in  the wetlands near my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania 9n the Spring and Summer. 

I walked back to the beach,

which now had a small crowd of people enjoying the Florida sunshine and scenic sandy beach. 

  I saw one more bird before I finished my morning hike, this turkey vulture sitting on a picnic trail. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Florida Day Eight Key West morning hike birds April 4 2023. 

It was now late afternoon so I left the park and headed back to Goldman’s deli for another great late breakfast. Here is a link to some more photos from my morning hike. Florida Day Eight Key West morning hike April 4 2023. 

After breakfast I spent a short time at the hotel but was soon back at the Key West Tropical Forest and Botanical Gardens.  I knew from my attempt to visit it closes at 4 p.m. so I drove over around p.m. It was hot, with temperatures in the mid 80’s so I was glad to walk under the shade of the large  tropical trees in the gardens.

The gardens are small, only 15 acres. but there was so much, trees, flowers, plants, insects, lizards and birds on the beautiful trails. 

There was a  scenic pond  near the entrance of the garden, 

and here I saw a few beautiful pond slider turtles sitting in the sun,  and

swimming in the water. 

There were many lizards scurrying on the ground too.  Brown anoles were everywhere,

and I saw a few northern curly tailed lizard and

this iguana. 

Of course, the main attraction was  the many tropical trees and flowers. From the small delicate frangipani flowers, 

to the large Bismarck palm trees there where hundreds of  species of trees, flowers and plants growing in the only frost free  botanical gardens in the continental United States 

And where there are flowers there are insects I saw honey bees,

carpenter bees and 

this mangrove skipper butterfly walking under the lush canopy of tropical trees. 

There were many benches in shaded areas along the trails and a few other visitors were taking advantage of the shade.

I roamed the trails until closing time hoping to see a few of the many species of birds that have been sighted here. Unfortunately there weren’t many, probably due to the afternoon hate, but I did see a few yellow-rumped warblers,

and this great crested flycatcher. 

It was a nice visit but next time I will try and arrive in the morning when it is cooler and their may be more bird activity. Here is a link to some more photos from my visit to the botanical  gardens  Florida Day Eight Key West Botanical Gardens April 4 2023. 

After my visit to the botanical gardens I returned  to shower and change then decided to eat at a nearby Chinese restaurant. It was good wholesome food served by some pleasant folks. 

After watching the sunset across the Florida Bay from in front of my hotel,  I did some work on my photos and retired early again. looking forward to my last day of  exploring Key West and it’s nature trails and searching for it’s wildlife. 

“A garden to walk in and immensity to dream in–what more could he ask? A few flowers at his feet and above him the stars.”
― Victor Hugo, Les Misérables