Florida Day Seven: Birds, Lizards And Insects In Dagny Johnson Park in Key Largo

Florida Day Seven: Birds, Lizards And Insects In Dagny Johnson Park in Key Largo

Florida Day Seven Key Largo (15 of 27)
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Early Tuesday morning I returned to the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park.   After a couple of hikes in the same park you start to know where to find the wildlife that lives there. And I enjoy trying to get better photographs of the birds, insects and other animals I had encountered  on my  previous hikes the last three years. . 

Once again I began my hike on the main trail, under the canopy of  trees in this, the largest sub-tropical  hardwood  hammock in the United States. 

Shortly after I began my hike I encountered a scurry of squirrels in some trees along the trail. I have never seen this many squirrels  in a group in all of my years of hiking. About twenty squirrels were scurrying in the tops of a few trees. I wasn’t able to see any fruits or flowers that may have attracted them but it was fun watching, and trying to photograph them, as they climbed in the branches on the tops of the trees. 

After watching the squirrels I hiked to the  branch of the trail that leads to the  small inlet and  Atlantic ocean. On my way, perched high in a tree top were two birds. The first was a red-bellied woodpecker. I am very familiar with this species of bird and, in fact have one visiting my feeder in Pennsylvania, as I type. 

The second I had only seen once before, briefly flying above me on one of my previous Key Largo hikes, a white crowned pigeon.  

These birds fast flying birds that feed on the fruits of trees growing in the tropical hardwood hammock, including poisonwood trees, are now threatened due to loss of habitat. 

As I did on my previous hike, walked down the trail to the small bay, primitive campground and ocean. 

Along the way I  again saw a few wading birds in the shallow man made canal along the trail, including this great blue heron , 

which, as usual flew off as I approached,

this great egret and

this tri-colored heron perched in a tree.

I walked back to the main trail and into the groves of mangrove trees that grow in coastal areas. 

Here I saw a few blue-gray gnat catchers perched on the branches of  the surrounding trees,

one enjoying an insect it had captured. 

As I stated in my previous blog the Dagny Johnson Park was once the location of a planned real estate development that failed.  It has been almost 40 years and  same of the developed areas are still just gradually being taken over by vegetation. In addition to the mangroves the beach morning glory and

shoreline sea purslane slowly encroach on the areas disturbed by the construction of the development. 

Once again I walked through a small area of wetlands where, I think some crocodiles may live. I walked very fast. 

The trail  proceeded  under the taller trees of the hardwood hammock.

And once again I was fortunate not to find the swarms of mosquitos that were here on my visit last year.  I did see some insects on my walk through on the trail including this mangrove skipper  butterfly,

this Julia heliconian butterfly and 

this  butterfly I have not identified. 

I also saw this pretty orchid orb weaver spider and 

a number of  these invasive brown anole lizards scurrying on the ground and up the trunks of trees. 

One must be careful  hiking in the woodlands of South Florida they are are number of poisonous plants and trees including the poisonwood tree, which is very common in the hardwood forest of Dagny Johnson Park. 

It warms up quick in South Florida even under the shade of the hardwood forest. I like to hike early to avoid the heat and humidity and because the birds and wildlife are more active in the cooler temperatures of the early morning. As I was finishing my walk I saw a few more birds including a noisy catbird, 

another blue-gray gnatcatcher perched near the berries of a soapberry tree and this

beautiful northern parula. It was the first time I ever saw one of these birds. 

It had captured an insect when I saw it perched on a tree. I have to thank my nature loving and birding friends for help in identifying the birds in this post. I often make mistakes on my identifications but I am sure these are correct. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photographs of the birds I saw on my hike in Dagny Johnson Park. Florida Day Seven Key Largo morning  hike birds. February 23 2021. 

Finishing up my five mile hike I found these red berries which I believe are called  bloodberries another plant I had not seen before on my hikes in South Florida.  

I enjoy my morning walks and trying to find  and photograph familiar and new birds, insects,  flowers, plants or whatever I can find in the Florida wilderness.  Here  is a link to a gallery with more photographs from my hike in Dagny Johnson park. Florida Day Seven Key Largo morning hike February 23 2021l


If you truly love nature, you will find beauty everywhere. —Laura Ingalls Wilder





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