Florida Day Nine: A Storm, A Snake And Some Sunshine At Flamingo in Everglades National Park.

Florida Day Nine: A Storm, A Snake And Some Sunshine At Flamingo in Everglades National Park.

Florida Day Eight Flamingo Snake bight (24 of 30)
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 I got my wish.  I was able to experience  some tropical weather on my first night in Flamingo in the Everglades  National Park.  Unfortunately it wasn’t the sunny, humid and hot weather I had hoped for. I awoke on Thursday morning at the Flamingo Lodge with 30 mph winds, with higher gusts, howling off of the Florida bay.  It was cloudy with an occasional wind blown downpour of rain. It was a tropical 77 degrees so  the wind actually felt warm when I walked out onto my balcony.

The winds picked up during the night as a sudden storm brought unexpected rain and the high winds from Mexico. There was a break in the rain shortly after sunrise so I left the lodge  to get a hike.  Additional  rains   were forecast to arrive later in the morning.  I walked down to the bay where I had hoped to watch a sunrise but wasn’t able to because of the clouds.

The wind was still blowing in off of the bay creating large waves to splash ashore.

I  had planned to hike on the  Coastal Prairie Trail in the morning.  Because of the rain in the forecast, I decided to stay close to the lodge.  So  I  followed the Guy Bradly Trail along the shore,

to the camp grounds.

The palm trees along the trails were bending in the strong winds.

Along the way I saw this osprey huddling  in its nest sheltering from the high winds.

Occasionally  the wind also brought a passing rain shower, but I continued my walk through the campgrounds and to the Eco Pond.

I quickly walked around the pond seeing a flock of beautiful white pelicans on the wind tossed waters of the lake.

And I was surprised to find this graceful red-shouldered hawk in a tree along the lake.

It seemed to be huddling here, taking shelter from the strong winds.

I walked along the lake and then the main  road back to the lodge,

where I saw   a few white-eyed vireos in the trees along the way,

and this tri-colored heron huddling in some wetlands from the strong winds.

I finished my 3 mile hike and made it back to the lodge just as heavier rains began to fall. 

It was around  9 a.m. and I was hungry so I stopped in for breakfast. I ordered a vegetable and egg  burrito with baked plantains and decided to eat it in my room. It was delicious and filling. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog site with more photos from my morning hike. Florida Day Nine. Flamingo morning walk March 28 2024.

As is usually the case, the rains stopped when I got back to my room  The forecast called for more rain around noon so I quickly decided to head to the Snake Bight Trail, located only a few miles form the lodge.

I had hiked this trail before. It is a straight 2 mile trail through a hardwood hammock that ends at a bight, a bay within a bay,  here the  the larger Florida bay. On my previous hikes I was swarmed by mosquitoes so I applied a lot of  insect repellent before I began my hike under  the canopy of leaves formed by the hardwood trees including many mahogany trees.

There were a few cars at the trailhead so I knew I would eventually encounter these folks since it is an out and back trail. Shortly after I began my hike I saw this anhinga fly overhead, and land in a tree,

and I saw a few of northern cardinals which I am so familiar with from my home in Northeastern Pennsylvania.

There were a lot of butterfliers  fluttering along the trail including, I believe a tropical buckeye,

and, I think, a southern white butterfly. I again want to remind everyone I am not an expert naturalist and rely on my iPhone apps and Google lens for identification. Please feel free to correct me if I am wrong.

I also saw a lot of brown anole lizards scampering on the ground and lower bushes ands trees.

There were  canals  overgrown with mangroves on both side of the trail.  I heard  a lot of wings flapping and a few splashes in the dense mangroves and I wondered what made these sounds, herons, wood storks, turtles or maybe even an alligator.

I was able to see, and photograph, these beautiful birds, a great crested flycatcher and

a red bellied woodpecker.

Along the trail I saw air plants,

coral bean flowers

red magnolia fruit,

and knicker beans.

I came upon a brother and sister hiking on the trail and engaged in a pleasant conversation before walking past them. A few other folks passed me on their return from the bay. The trail neared the Florida bay where hardwood woodland  gradually  ended.

There were mostly mangrove trees and other coastal shrubs along the trail. And water The trail was flooded and I had to decide whether I would wade through the murky waters. I did.

I came to a board walk  that jutted out into the bight. I was disappointed to wasn’t a lot of shore birds here,

I did see some egrets and herons but they were far out in the bay.

As I began return hike I noticed  a tri-colored heron perched in a tree near the boardwalk.

I again waded through the murky waters along the trail and encountered this beautiful, but dangerous critter, a  large diamondback a  rattlesnake.  It began to shake it’s rattle as I approached warning me not to get any closer.

I always enjoy seeing this deadly but beautiful creatures on my hikes in Northeastern Pennsylvania and was glad to see one here in the Everglades.

I watched  the snake,  taking some photos and videos,  before I decided to walk back. Here is a video of the rattlesnake  I have uploaded to my YouTube Channel. https://youtu.be/vCqqG7dcDUw?si=846z-11jTsRAByN4   And here is a another link to another gallery with more photos of the rattlesnake  I  saw on my hike . Florida Day Nine: Flamingo Snake Bight hike rattlesnake  March 28 2024

On my walk back  I didn’t see much wildlife activity, some of the same birds and insects and also a great pond hawk dragonfly and a few white eyed vireos. They were the most common bird I saw on this Florida trip. Here is a link to another gallery with more photos of the birds I  saw on my hike . Florida Day Nine: Flamingo Snake Bight hike birds March 28 2024.

I finished my 4 mile hike, hearing a large splash in the mangrove swamp. i think it was an alligator.  A couple walking out on the trail said they just saw an alligator  on a log.  I ended my hike before the rains came and drove back to the lodge. Here is a link to another gallery with more photos from my hike  on the snake bight trail. . Florida Day Nine: Flamingo Snake Bight hike   March 28 2024

The heavy rains and thunderstorms never materialized. There was a few passing showers during the afternoon, , but,  the winds shifted, and a strong northwesterly wind cleared the skies. By late afternoon the winds died down but the the skies were clear and it was a lot cooler and less humid.  Perfect conditions for an evening hike. I drove back out to the Eco pond,

and found  a few white pelicans  along the shore,

swimming on the  waters of the pond.

I walked around the small  pond,

and saw a pair of ospreys perched in a tree.

I left the Eco Pond and drove through the campground to the trailhead for the Coastal Prairie Trail.

I have hiked this trail a few times and always enjoy walking under the trees covered in Spanish moss at the start of the trail.

It was magical in the evening with the setting suns rays shinning on the moss.

There was a large raven perched on a log cawing loudly as I walked past. It almost seemed like it was greeting me as I began my hike on the trail. 

The trail was very wet and very muddy from the recent rains,

I made my way through the mud thinking once I left the mangrove and hardwood trees near the bay it would be less muddy.

This wasn’t the case and there was mud and water  even along the more open areas of  the trail.  After a short distance I decided not to struggle through the muddy trails.

and returned to the trailhead. Even though I had already hiked over 8 miles  it was to nice to head back to the lodge so I roomed the grounds of the abandoned campground’

reflecting on the people who camped here over the years, and who last used this now abandoned facilities.

As I explored the campgrounds,

I saw a few more crows.

and a great crested flycatcher enjoying an evening meal.  After walking about a mile I returned to my SUV,

and drove back to the lodge,

to enjoy a beautiful  Everglades sunset.   Here is a link to another gallery with more photos from my  evening hike. . Florida Day Nine: Flamingo evening  hike   March 28 2024

It was a perfect way to end a day that started stormy  but was filled with adventure and provided me with another small glimpse of the vast expanse of beauty that is the Everglades. I love this part of our planet. I was sad this would be my last night here, but I knew I would be back again , and hopefully soon.  I retired early again, since i wanted to get in one more hike before I had to leave Flamingo  the next morning.