Florida Day Six: Key Largo. A Familiar Afternoon Hike At Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

Florida Day Six: Key Largo. A Familiar Afternoon Hike At Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park

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After spending a couple of hours editing photos, checking in with my office and relaxing at the  Bar Harbor Resort in Key Largo I decided to take an afternoon hike at the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park. I have hiked here many times the past three years and love this charming little park.  It was mostly sunny and warm when I arrived with temperatures near 80 degrees. 

Most of the area in the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park was going to be developed as a Venice themed condominium in the early 1980’s.  It is located about a  1/2 mile north of the Highway One bridge.  It is one of the largest sub-tropical hardwood hammocks in the United States with may species of rare and endangered trees and plants.  If you are a new follower of my blog you can read my prior posts on the Dagny Johnson Key Largo State Park in my blog archives using the search tool on my website. I began walking on the paved trail under the canopy of sub-tropical trees. 

It was mid-afternoon, the hottest part of the day, and I knew there wouldn’t be a lot of bird activity on the trail. In the early morning hours I have seen many song birds hiking on these trails. I was hoping to see some reptiles, especially the crocodiles that are sometimes seen here. There were  no crocodiles but I did see a couple of lizards . I saw a   curly tailed lizard, while invasive, it came from the West Indies, it has not caused a lot of environmental harm to the native Florida habitat

I also saw another invasive lizard. a brown anole. These lizards are displacing the native green anole. 

Thankfully there were not many mosquitoes, gnats or flies on my  two mile hike. In the morning these insects appear in swarms and can be very annoying.  I continued my hike seeing the always present beggartick flowers , and 

some low rattlebox flowers, along the trail.

I walked to a trail along one of the old canals that were dug in the hammock to create the appearance of the canals of  Venice.

It has became good habitat for wading birds and  a little blue heron wading in the waters as I walked past. 

I walked down on where the canal meets the ocean. Here, on some wooden piers I saw a brown pelican and ,

a double-crested cormorant perched and enjoying the late afternoon sun. 

The  brown pelican yawned a few times while I watched them. 

This turned out to be a very active spot to watch some wildlife activity. I soon heard the familiar  high pitched whistling  cry of an osprey and this one soon flew over. I am sure it was on a fishing expedition, 

Then, I saw this brown pelican fly over and suddenly turn, 

and being a dive into the water,

it dived straight down as I watched and photographed the scene. 

It was like a missile as it neared the water, and dived in with a very small splash. 

I don’t think the dive was successful, unless it ate the fish when it emerged from the water. 

It took off, circled above me, and took a seat on the wooden pier next to the other pelican. I watched the birds for a few more minutes then continued on my hike. There are more photos in the dive sequence in  a gallery on my website. I will share a link later.

I walked back to the main trail, 

and was going to hike to another wetland area where I had seem white ibis and wood storks before. Unfortunately it was closed because of flooding. 

It was now getting to be late afternoon, and I had hiked five mile in the morning so I decided to end my hike. 

On my walk back I walked past  another small wetland area and was delighted to see a flock of white ibis feeding in the waters. 

And even more surprised and  delighted to find some juveniles in the flock. 

I had never seen a juvenile ibis before. They are beautiful birds, 

just like their parents.

As I  was photographing these pretty birds, 

a person walked by causing them to fly off.  I was pleased to have had the opportunity to see them.  Here is a link to some more photographs of the brown pelican, ibis and others birds I saw on my hike. Florida Day Six. Key Largo afternoon hike birds. February 17 2022. 

After watching the white ibis, I finished my hike. There were two trails that led back to the parking area.   I took the one that passed by what I think was an old quarry. It filled with water and I have seen many wading birds here on my past hikes. Not this year. There was nothing moving on or around the water.  I finished my two mile hike without seeing anymore wildlife activity. But I was pleased with the show the pelicans and ibis put on for me.  This is a link to another gallery with some more photos from my hike in the Dagny Johnson Key Largo State  Park. Florida Day Six. Key Largo. afternoon hike February 17 2022. 

It was now late afternoon. almost 5 p.m. I was hungry and decided to eat and then head back to my resort and watch the sunset. I found a Thai restaurant,  the Num-Thai Restaurant and Sushi Bar, and hoped it would be better then the one in Florida City. It was. I had a delicious, and filling meal of  King of the Sea seafood soup,

and a red snapper, shrimp and squid in a lemon chili sauce   special. it was delicious, and, I was surprised when, 

my food was served by this robot. Amazing. 

After my meal I got back  to my resort just in time to watch the sunset. 

There were some clouds on the horizon, 

but the sun peeked out just before it set, giving me, and the folks on this boat a nice view as it disappeared under  the western horizon. I am sure someone in the Eastern Hemisphere , in Australia, China or Japan was standing  in awe as it rose on their eastern horizon. I love sun rises and sunsets. It is a nice time to reflect, and share with someone, if you are fortunate to have someone.   

Unfortunately, I watched it , and all of the sunsets  on this trip alone. Bittersweet, like many of the memories  in my life now, having lost both my parent to old age ( blessed to have them so long we were) and my beloved sister  and brother-in-law much to soon in a tragic accident. Some  sunshine I found in my life, for a couple of years, after these loses was also gone now,  so alone I was. But blessed, thankful and happy to see and share the beauty of Florida as I continue my travels on this beautiful planet, alone again. So thanks to all of you for joining me here on my blog. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photographs of  another beautiful Florida sunset. Florida Day Six Key Largo sunset February 17 2022.

Sunset is a moment where all emotions are experienced: Melancholy, amazement, intoxication, casuistry, admiration, love, sadness… – Mehmet Murat Ildan

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