Florida Day Two: A Morning Walk And Sunrise In The Conch Republic

Florida Day Two: A Morning Walk And Sunrise In The Conch Republic

Florida Day Two Sunrise walk (22 of 41)
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I was up early my second morning in the Conch Republic, as the locals like to call Key West. It was about a mile walk to Higgs Memorial Beach where I planned to watch the sunrise.  I have learned on my travels, that as you get closer to the equator there is less twilight. Unlike our long twilights in the northern latitudes the suns sets and rises  without much twilight. So it was dark when I left my room. about a half hour before sunrise. 

It was a pleasant 68 degrees as I walked down deserted Duval Street. The Conch Republic is not an early morning place. The action goes on until the wee hours of the morning and most of the island was asleep as I walked the empty streets. 

The many roosters were up roaming the streets and competing with each other to see who could crow the loudest. I love the sound of roosters crowing. It reminds me of my childhood in Green Ridge in  Northeastern Pennsylvania. Many of our neighbors had chickens and the crowing of the roosters woke us up at dawn. There were also a lot of cats on the streets and I made friends with this one. It  immediately began following me and purred affectionately when I would pet it.  After sadly saying  goodbye to the cat, 

I continued my walk past the closed shops, bars and restaurants.

I got near the shore just as the first orange of twilight appeared on the horizon. 

There was a waning gibbous moon high in the northwestern sky shining down on the beach. 

I walked on the pier, joined by some other early risers, 

and waited for the sun to rise. 

And it did,  seeming to just jump out of the ocean on the distant horizon.

I  took in  the beautiful sunrise,

and watched this willet  feasting on some small crabs near the pier. 

I left the beach and decided to visit the Key West Nature Preserve a few blocks to the east. I walked through a nice neighborhood, with some interesting Christmas decorations on some of the house. 

I encountered a lot more roosters on the way,  the have the run of the town, as well as some local folks off to work, school or some early exercise. 

I found the trail to the Nature Preserve.

  A small boardwalk took me through a sub-tropical woodland and down to an isolated beach. 

Here,

I saw this beautiful bird, And I am not sure what it is. My first thought it was a great white egret. However, my Merlin bird app tells me it is a white  subspecies of a great blue heron. I am not sure. I encountered on of these birds on a previous visit to the keys and even the birders debated whether it was a great white  egret,

or its cousin a white great blue heron. Whatever it was, it was beautiful and it flew off in the rays of the rising sun. 

There were great white egrets on the beach too. I am sure this pair are great white egrets by their black legs.

I also watched a flock of brown pelican splashing  in the water,

This one dived into the water upside down.

I saw more great white egrets,

and watched them  them flying off over the calm ocean as I approached. 

Walking along  the beach I heard the unmistakable high pitched cry of an osprey,

and saw this fellow fly from the woodland preserve of trees above the beach, swoop over the ocean, and return to the wooded preserve.

I also saw another willet wading along the shore in the morning sun.

As I was leaving the preserve I saw this American kestrel perched on a post on the boardwalk. 

Once again, I saw  a lot of  yellow-rumped warblers scurrying in the trees. They are even more common than the roosters. 

I left the preserve and wanted to visit another part of the Nature Preserve and an Indengous Park but both were closed due to damage from the recent hurricane. I had already walked more than I planned,  almost three miles,  so I started my walk back to the Duvall house. 

I walked  up  White Street and than Walton Street on my return . I was in some nice neighborhoods. I was surprised to see this yellow-bellied sapsucker on a palm tree along the street. I haven’t seen one since a visit to Key Largo three years ago, also on a palm tree. They  migrate to Pennsylvania in the Spring but I haven’t seen one there in years. It is a beautiful bird. Here is a link to a gallery with some more of the birds I saw on my morning hike in the Conch Republic. Florida Day Two morning hike birds January 11 2023. 

I love roaming through the side streets of the towns and cities I visit. You learn so much about the residents by seeing their yards, gardens and houses.

One thing I learned about the folks of Key West, they are proud of their Conch Republic, and their  island lifestyle. It was on display on their mailboxes,

front porches, 

and  house addresses.  

All sorts of images depicting seaside island life. I could do an entire  blog just on this wonderful adornments on almost every front porch. 

I continued my walk and came upon the modern  City Hall building, and a few blocks later, 

 came to an old cemetery. I had read about it and wanted to visit. However, I had no time.  I had a lot more planned on my one day stay but it was now bear 9 a.m. and I  wanted to get back for breakfast.

I heard they serve a wonderful Belgian waffle and I was hungry. 

So I finished my 5 1/2 mile hike, and the breakfast at the Duval House was wonderful, especially the Belgian waffle. I had a nice chat with some California folk, then showered, packed and was on the road by 11 a.m. I was off to look for key deer. It was a short but exciting and informative stay in  Key West, the Conch Republic,  and I am already looking forward to another visit, maybe even in March when the birds are migrating north. I know this, it won’t be 33 years until my next visit to the Conch Republic. Here is a link to a gallery with some more photos from my  morning hike. Florida Day Two Key West morning January 11 2023. 

It’s those changes in latitudes, changes in attitudesNothing remains quite the sameWith all of our running and all of our cunningIf we couldn’t laugh we would all go insane.   Jimmy Buffet.

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