Florida Day Four: My Last Day In The Everglades, And Finally A Migrating Bird At Lucky Hammock!

Florida Day Four: My Last Day In The Everglades, And Finally A Migrating Bird At Lucky Hammock!

Lucky hammock morning (2 of 31)
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It was my last day in Florida City and the Everglades. I came down hoping to see the birds migrating from Mexico, South and Central America and the Caribbean Islands to the woodlands near my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania.  And, my research directed me to Lucky Hammock as being  one of the best places to observe them. So I was at the old Aerojet Road trailhead that would take me to Lucky Hammock early on Friday morning. 

I was welcomed by what I hoped was a good omen, this northern mocking bird landed near my SUV in the parking lot as if to greet me and wish me luck. Mocking birds were one of my dads favorite birds. They always remind me of him and all that he taught me. He was my best friend, mentor and hero. And, who this poor attempt at a blog is dedicated to. 

The sun was rising over the farm fields that surround Lucky Hammock as I began my hike on the abandoned road.  The road led to the ruins of the  Aerojet Rocket facility that was so critical to our Apollo moon mission in the 1960’s.Another  big  part of my life. As a child I was fascinated by the Apollo Mission and the exploration of space. 

Well that was long ago. And this huge facility is in ruins but the  wires on the old utility poles remain. And  they  provide  a perfect perching spot for birds. And I  soon saw a few ,  this red bellied woodpecker, glowing in the rising sunlight and,

I believe the same red shouldered hawk I saw on my pervious hike here. 

I walked about a 1/2 mile to Lucky Hammock. a small stand of hardwood trees surrounding by abandoned farming fields. It is hard to believe over 250 species of birds have been observed here. I walked around the hammock again and seen not a single one. I did hear the beautiful songs of some northern cardinals but that was it.

Disappointed, I continued on my hike on the old Aerojet Road. 

I soon came to the canal that follows the road to the ruins of the Aerojet facility. I believe the boundary of  the Everglade National Park is on the other side of the canal.  It was a mild sunny morning and the waters reflected the clear blue skies. 

Perched near the canal was another northern mocking bird, I believe the same one I saw on my previous hike two days ago.

I was the only one walking on the old Aerojet Road , in fact I only saw one man on a bicycle on my two five mile hikes. The trail continues through many different habitats from sub-tropical hardwoods, to wetlands and cypress woodlands.  I took notice to the  cabbage palmettos, 

and the  few towering royal palm trees growing in one area of the trail. 

I didn’t see the dozens of wood storks, great egrets and white ibises I saw on my previous walk perched in the tree tops,  well maybe a few wood storks,,

but they did  were flying overhead in this same area of the trail. I think they may have been roosting in the trees on my previous hike because of the thick fog we had that morning. On Friday the wood stork flew clumsily overhead,

while the white ibises.

 the great egrets and

a few great blue herons soared gracefully through the blue skies. I saw dozens of them.

I also again saw dozens of  the black vultures, 

and turkey vultures in the same area of the trail. 

Again, these birds were not camera shy and allowed me to get some close ups. This turkey  vulture appeared to want to pose for my camera,

as I approached. 

The trail came to the wetlands and the cypress trees with there new green leaves. I love these trees. 

I walked on the old road to the ruins of the Aerojet Facility. It was about 2 1/2 miles from the trailhead. 

I began my hike back disappointed not seeing any migrating song birds on my hike, I did see another red shouldered hawk,

a few  red-winged blackbirds, and

this trio of invasive European starlings., not my favorite birds.  As usual, I saw and heard many birds  I was unable to photograph including a few more red bellied woodpeckers, hawks, and the elusive belted kingfishers  I heard and saw flying over the waters of the canal. 

As I was nearing Lucky Hammock I saw a pair of pileated woodpeckers. I love  watching this beautiful birds  as the search for insects on the trunks of trees. 

And I saw a few more great crested flycatchers perched on the wires atop the trail. 

I also noticed this bird flying overhead. At first  I thought it was a frigate bird but I have since learned it was a swallow tailed kite. This was a first time sighting or “lifer”  for me. It was a beautiful bird, 

And I saw one more alligator, also watching me at the canal near the  Lucky Hammock. 

I now approached Lucky Hammock again and I finally saw my first migratory birds here, a small flock of western kingbirds. These large flycatchers live in western North America and are traveling there from their Winter homes in Costa Rica. This was another new lifer for me. I had hoped to see many of such birds here on visit but I will settle for this one. I saw so many other wonderful birds, wildlife, insects , flowers and scenery I wasn’t complaining. 

And I would see a one more before this visit to the Everglades was over.  An American kestrel landed on a wire above the trail. 

It watched me walk by before flying away. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Florida Day Four Lucky Hammock March 31 2023. 

I ended my five mile hike and returned to my hotel to shower and checked  out. I was back on the road again heading to Key Largo. I love driving, especially back roads.  I took the back way to Key Largo  on the Card Sound Road. And I never eat fast food when I’m on the road.  I  always eat at local dinner or restaurants. So I had to stop to eat at Alabama Jack’s. a  fun road house  with  good food and always a  crowd. Great music too,  I enjoyed a  salad ,

and a blackened grouper sandwich with a view   before driving on to Key Largo where I  was hoping to see some migrating birds at  Dagny Johnson Botanical State Park.  Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my last hike at Lucky Hammock. Florida Day Four Everglades Lucky Hammock March 2023 

“The road is there. It will always be there. You just have to decide when to take it.”— Chris Humphrey

This is my first post