Florida Day Two: Not Much Luck At A Foggy Lucky Hammock But A Few Birds On Aerojet Road.
On the second day of my birding visit to South Florida I decided to hike to Lucky Hammock. It is a small stand of hardwood trees located just outside the Homestead entrance to the Everglades National Park in the Frog Pond WMA. Although small in size almost 250 species of birds were sighted here. It i reported to be one of the best birding areas in South Florida. When I left my hotel room before sunrise I discovered a thick fog had settled in overnight.
I drove 10 miles through the thick fog and began my hike on the trailhead to the Lucky Hammock on the old Aerojet Road. The road continues for five miles and takes you the ruins of the old Aerojet rocket facility. I hiked here on my visit in January and you can use the search tool below to read more about that hike and the history of the area.
I didn’t expect to see much bird activity because of the thick fog but I was surprised to see an American kestrel and,
a red shouldered hawk perched on an old electric wires shorty after I began my hike.
Lucky Hammock is only about only a quarter of a mile from the trailhead. I had read that many species of birds stop here on their yearly migration. Well there were none on this foggy morning. I didn’t see or hear one bird on my walk around the hammock. I thought there would be at least some bird activity, even in the thick fog.
I did see some wildflowers to brighten the dreary morning, coffee senna and
blue porterweed flowers were growing on the edge of the hammock, blue and gold my old high school colors.
And there were a lot of spider webs too.
I continued my hike on the old and abandoned Aerojet road. The rising sun slowly burned off the thick fog.
Some blue skies appeared as I approached a canal along the road.
Here I saw another alligator gathering nesting material. It is breeding season for the alligators and crocodiles and they will soon be laying their eggs.
There was still almost no birds activity in the woodlands along the trail. The vegetation along the trail is varied and changes form the farm fields to some hardwood forest to cypress trees wetlands . There are many native and invasive plants growing in the subtropical South Florida climate. I was looking for birds on this hike but still noticed many of the flowers in bloom form the exotic white Malaysian jasmine flowers,
to the common, but pretty, yellow gumweed flowers.
As the fog dissipated, some blue sky and sunshine finally appeared,
and so did a few birds. I saw this northern mocking bird,
and a few common grackles perched on the wires above the trail.
And I saw a large flock of wood storks and a few white ibises perched in the trees tops. There were dozens of them.
The fog had burned off entirely when I reached some wetlands on the other side of the canal.. I loved seeing the cypress trees with their new light green leaves. They were bare on my visit in January. .
And the birds like the cypress trees too. I saw a lot more wood storks perched in the trees.
Many would fly a short distance to another tree as I approached and
other flew awkwardly off into the distance. They are not the most graceful fliers,
There were also a few great egrets perched near the wood storks.
They looked a lot more graceful in flight.
As I approached a gate on the trail I was greeted by a large flock of black vultures. A couple of them seemed to be gatekeepers and only flew off when I was almost right next to them,
allowing me to get some close up photos of their attractive faces.
Thee were dozens of these large scavenger birds on the road and in the trees along the trail. And a few of their cousins, the turkey vultures perched in the trees along the trail.
The cypress trees were filled with both species of vultures perched in their branches .
I had walked out 2 1/2 miles now and decided to end hike and head back. The Florida sun quickly raised the temperature into the low 80’s and it was only going to get hotter,
Besides the wood storks, egrets and vultures, I only saw two more birds on my hike back, this great crested flycatcher and,
a pileated woodpecker which I saw on a pole in the distance.
I now heard the loud buzzing of insects and, discovered the many native coco plum trees growing along the trail were flowering.
And their tiny blossoms were attracting thousands of bees, flies, wasps and other insects. This is a Virginia giant hover fly,
and this a southern carpenter bee.
I saw a few more water birds on the canal as I neared Lucky Hammock. This, I believe is a common gallinule. It is my first sighting of this bird. I have seen many of their purple cousins on my travels in South Florida.
And there was this great blue heron wading in the waters.
I returned to Lucky Hammock and again,
walked around the small area of old hardwood trees.
The only bird I heard was a red bellied woodpecker deep inside the hammock. Not one migrating song bird. In fact not a single bird of any kind. I did notice some more of the many wildflowers growing around the hammock, including Mexican primrose
And where there are flowers there are insects, this Halloween pennant dragonfly
and this queen butterfly. I saw hundreds of other dragonflies and butterflies on my five mile hike but I didn’t want to take the time to try and photograph them. I was looking for birds and I wasn’t finding many.
I left the hammock and, just as I was ending my hike I saw this red shouldered hawk perched on a wire.
I believe it was the same one I saw earlier in the fog. It is a beautiful bird. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos of the birds I saw on my hike. Florida Day Two Lucky Hammock morning birds March 29 2023
I ended my five mile hike, a little disappointed I didn’t see more critters and birds but still happy to experience so much of Florida’s flora and fauna. I love the Everglades. . I am hoping to try again and return to the Lucky Hammock before I leave the Everglades. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with some more photos from my hike Florida Day Two Lucky Hammock March 29 2023.
I dove back to Florida City and had a hearty breakfast at the Farmers Market Restaurant . It is my favorite restaurant down here and I usually eat here twice a day.
I spent the hot afternoon editing photos, working on my blog and doing some work for my law office back home. I decided to return to Lucky Hammock late afternoon but , on my drive over, I saw threatening clouds to the west so I decided to hike on the Southern Glades Trail.
I parked at the trail head and walked past some folks fishing on the canal along the trail.
I kept my eye on the dark clouds as I walked south on the trail.
These morning glories flowers were still blooming and brightened up my dreary hike.
There were no migrating birds, in fact there were no birds along the trail, except for a flock of white ibises that flew overhead,
I was able to walk about a half mile when I heard the distant sound of thunder. I quickly walked back to my SUV. Here is a link with a few photos form my evening hike. Florida Day Two . Southern Glades Trail hike March 30 2023.
It was a good decision to end my hike . It started raining on my drive back to town to the Farmers Market Restaurant. A torrential downpour began as I entered the restaurant. It continued during my entire meal of blackened grouper, pinto beans and mashed potatoes.
And ,of course key lime pie for dessert. The rain continued, and I wanted to get back to my room so I darted to my car but still got drenched. I changed, edited some photos and worked on my blog for a while. Then I went to sleep looking forward to exploring Flamingo at the Southern end of the Everglades in the morning.
“in every walk with nature, one receives far more than he seeks” John Muir