Florida Day One: Heat In The Everglades. And Not Many Migrating Birds

Florida Day One: Heat In The Everglades. And Not Many Migrating Birds

Royal Palm (40 of 47)
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I will now admit it. I have become a birder. I love looking for,  and photographing,  the many species of birds that live in the woodlands near my home  in Northeastern Pennsylvania .   I now get excited seeing a new species of bird and enjoy sharing the birds I see on my blog and social media. I have learned a lot about the birds that live in Pennsylvania especially the migratory song birds. I now know that many of the beautiful birds we see, the scarlet, tanagers,  Baltimore orioles,  warblers and vireos,  travel as far as Mexico, the Caribbean Islands and even South America for the Winter. 

And, I have learned many of them stop in South Florida, in the Keys and Everglades in late March on their return to Pennsylvania.. So that is why I am now in Florida City in  South. Florida. I am  hoping to see and photograph some of them . And,  of course hopefully  alligators, snakes  and any other critters I may see. I love the seeing the exotic plants and flowers too. I love all of Nature.  I arrived at my hotel in Florida City around 3;30 p.m. Tuesday  and I was at the Royal Palm Visitor Center by 4 p.m.. It was hot with temperatures in the mid 80’s, a lot different than when I visited here in January.  Puffy cumulus clouds now floated above the waters  and sea of grass  near the visitor center. It was a beautiful scene. I love the Everglades 

I will not get into the history of Royal Palm or the Everglades  in this blog.  I have posted many blogs with information about the  Royal Palm and Everglades. There is a search tool  below you can use to search these older blogs  for more information should you wish . I am just going to share some of the natural beauty  I saw on this 4 mile hike. And, for the first few miles  it wasn’t a lot. The intense late  afternoon sun and heat discouraged  bird and other wildlife activity. There wasn’t much stirring as I  began my hike.   But the  turtles didn’t mind the heat. I first hiked  the Anhinga trail and soon  saw  this Florida red-bellied turtle swimming   in  the pond lilies growing in  the warm waters along the trail,

and another turtle  lounging under a tree. 

The  only birds I saw were a great blue heron stalking the reeds  

and a couple of double crested cormorants perched on a railing. The heat was oppressive and I can see why there was little wildlife activity.

However, as I noted, despite the heat,  the scenery was beautiful. 

The cumulus clouds drifted over the lush green vegetation  as I walked on the  boardwalks over the sea of grass and vegetation below. 

There are so many species of plants growing in the Everglades. I am trying to learn them. The lush sword ferns 

and these pond or swamp apples caught my eye this time ( I am no expert on any identifications I rely on my iPhone apps and filed guides. I  could be and have been wrong so please feel free to email any corrections. I just lover to share the beauty I find) 

The giant airplants had grown considerably since my visit in January. 

I saw another red-bellied turtle and watched as it,

was able to pull down,

and eat a pond lily flower. There is always something to see in the Everglades even in the intense heat of mid afternoon. 

I decided to head for the shade of the gumbo-limbo trail and on the way saw this alligator luring in the warm waters. The waters are so warm the alligators don’t need to bask in the sun to raise their body temperatures. and are less seen in the warmer months. 

I entered the Gumbo-limbo trail, named after the beautiful red=barked trees found growing along the trail. 

I got some relief from the heat and sun under the canopy of leaves from the hardwood trees growing in the hammock, including this large mahogany tree. 

I was again disappointed not to see any song birds  along the trail. This time I found a lot of anole lizards, 

they were scampering everywhere along the trail, sometimes stopping to take a rest I think these are border anoles. 

I left the Gumo-Limbo trail and followed  a trail along a sewer right of way. It continues through the hardwood hammock,

here I saw a lot of insects including mosquitoes and flies. But also some beautiful butterflies including this white peacock butterfly,

palamedes swallowtail butterfly and

this zebra longwing  butterfly. 

There were also a lot of dragonflies including a blue dasher and. 

scarlet skimmer.

I followed the trail out to Hidden Lake, which is not open to the public. 

Across from the  trail to the lake is the vast new wetland created by the major construction project on the Old Ingraham Highway Trail.  The highway, built in the 1930’s diverted water flowing through the Everglades and they are restoring the original flow. Unfortunately the hiking trail is closed. 

I started my return hike and saw some least sandpipers,

and killdeer in the muds of the wetlands. 

While hiking through the hardwood hammock and along the wetlands I observed many exotic  flowers and plants, to name a few this is Peruvian primose,

blue-eyed stargrass flowers, 

and coral bean flowers. 

It was now early evening when I got back to the Anhinga Trail. Clouds had moved in and  it  was much cooler.

And I finally saw some song birds. just a few  a couple of northern cardinal, 

a white-eyed vireo and 

this  great crested flycatcher perched high atop a tree. 

I took one more walk on the Anhinga Trail and found a lot more water  bird activity,  I saw more great blue herons,

green herons, this one making it’s  deep noisy call, 

many cormorants and anhinga , this one  stretching it’s long snake like neck,

a purple gallinule 

and a few  great egrets, some flying overhead and this one stalking food in the reeds.   Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hikes. Florida Day One Royal Palm birds. March 28 2023  

As I was finishing my hike on the trail I saw a large alligator splashing in the waters while it gathered leaves and aquatic plants.  I was told by some folks it is nesting season and the alligator was preparing a nest for it’s eggs. I was so intrigued by the activity of the alligator, I took a video and forgot to takes any photos.. Here is  link to the video I uploaded to my YouTube Channel. https://youtu.be/GHw-py-Mq2Y  I didn’t see a lot of the migrating birds I had hoped but it was still a wonderful hike in the unspoiled wilderness of the Everglades. I am glad to share the beauty I observed, and hope it  instills in all who have read this post the need to protect this wonderful area.

The sun was starting to set, I was very tired, but I decided to drive to Lucky Hammock and  continue my search for some migrating birds.  This Hammock, located outside of the National Park, is a great place to  observe migrating birds. Hundreds of species have been  recorded being seen here. But not on Tuesday, I didn’t see a single one. But I did get to experience  another beautiful Florida sunset. 

It was another great day exploring Southern Florida. I was exhausted and hungry but didn’t want to wait to eat in a restaurant, as I almost always do on my travel. My regular followers know I like to eat and share my dining experiences too..  But not this evening, .  I  stooped at a local market and had orange juice, some raw almonds and a banana for dinner. After editing some photos I was soon asleep, looking forward to another day exploring South Florida, and finding those migrating song birds. And here is a ling to a gallery with some more photos from my hike on the Anhinga and Gumbo-Limbo trails Florida Day One Royal Palm hikes March 28 2023 

“There are no other Everglades in the world. They are, they have always been, one of the unique regions of the earth, remote, never wholly known. Nothing anywhere else is like them; their vast glittering openness, wider than the enormous visible round of the horizon, the racing free saltness and sweetness of their massive winds, under the dazzling blue heights of space. They are unique also in the simplicity, the diversity, the related harmony of the forms of life they enclose. The miracle of the light pours over the green and brown expanse of saw grass and of water, shining and slow-moving below, the grass and water that is the meaning and the central fact of the Everglades of Florida. It is a river of grass.”   Marjory Stoneman Douglas, The Everglades: River of Grass, 1947