Florida Day Four: Flamingo: A Bumpy Drive And A Backwoods Hike To Remote Bear Lake And Flocks Of Birds
After leaving Eco Lake in Everglades National Park, I drove 2 miles north of the Flamingo Visitor Center and found the access road to the Bear Lake trailhead.. Well it was sort of a road. It was unpaved with large ruts and mud puddles almost the entire two miles to the trailhead. It was a good thing I rented a SUV for my Florida trip. I needed it to get to Bear Lake. I don’t think you could get there without one, not that you would want to try. I understand the road closes from July to November because of flooding.
It was a 1 3/4 mile hike to the lake. As much as I dislike wearing insect repellant, I thought it would be a good idea to put some on out here out here in the middle of the Everglades. It was. The mosquitoes weren’t too bad at first, but they and other insect activity increased as I walked deeper into the woods.
I am trying to learn the many species of trees, plants and flowers that grow in sub-tropical Florida but it is hard. My PictureThis iPhone App, is helpful but it is not always accurate. It identified these as elderberries and I know that can’t be right.
The mosquitoes, flies and other insects became more active as the sun warmed it up. And where there are insects, there are spider webs and spiders. I encountered a lot of webs but just this one spider.
I believe it is a spinybacked orb weaver spider.
Unfortunately, the cooler temperatures reduced my chances of seeing an alligator, crocodile or snake. There were a lot of birds active and singing in the trees along the trail but, because of the thick vegetation it was hard to see or photograph them. However, as I neared the lake, there were opening in the thick canopy of trees and I was able to finally see a bird, a familiar one from my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania, a red-bellied woodpecker.
As I got closer to the lake I hear a loud croaking, squawking , and grunting noise. It got louder. I realized it had to be a large flock of birds. I was excited. I got my iPhone and camera ready to video and photograph the birds. And there were birds, thousands of them. Great egrets, white pelicans, wood storks, great blue herons, little blue herons, double-crested cormorants, white ibis and roseate spoonbills. The were gathered in some ponds near the lake. However, the thick growth of mangroves kept me from photographing and videotaping the amazing scene as most flew off hearing my approach. It was a fantastic site to see. Not since I was in Africa have I seen such a large gathering of wading birds. (the snow geese and red-winged black bird migrations are far larger here in Northeastern Pennsylvania and I should be experiencing them soon.)
I wish I could have got closer on my first approach, when the were all gathered on the ponds right along the trail. I hope I will catch them there again next year. I continued my hike the short distance to Bear Lake. Along the way there were numerous tri-colored herons perched in the trees.
It amazing how still they can be and, when the start moving how stealthy they can be. After watching these two birds I began my hike back. The mosquitoes were becoming more active now. I am glad I applied the repellant.
and this turkey vulture, watching me and hoping I had a close encounter with a crocodile so it could get some leftovers. Here is a link with a gallery of more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike to Bear Lake. Florida Day Four Bear Lake hike birds February 15 2022.
The mosquito situation worsened as I made my way back through the thicker stretches of the trail. I didn’t mine too much, I am used to them from my hikes in the wetlands in the summer back home. And how can you be bothered when you are walking in a forest of gumbo-limbo trees.
When I got to the parking lot I saw two younger fellows walking back to their truck. They asked me about the trail . I told them it was a bit overgrown but worth the walk. They then asked about the mosquitoes and I told them they were active. They said they walked out a bit on the trail and decided not to hike it because of the mosquitoes. I tried to encourage them to take the hike but they had made their decision. They wanted nothing to do with the mosquitoes. I think they made the wrong decision that hike was well worth the mosquito bites I took home with me. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos of my hike to Bear Lake. Florida Day Four Flamingo Bear Lake Hike February 15 2022.
After my hike I drove back to Florida City and had a not so good lunch at a Thai restaurant. I spent the rest of the day, editing photos, making some calls to my office and at the pool. I took an uneventful two mile late afternoon hike on the Southern Glades Trail, had a nice dinner at the Gator Grill and retired early. Wednesday would be my last day would in the Everglades and I wanted to get an early start.
“Something will have gone out of us as a people if we ever let the remaining wilderness be destroyed … We simply need that wild country available to us, even if we never do more than drive to its edge and look in.”