Florida Day Two:The Everglades: A Ride South To Flamingo Visitor Center

Florida Day Two:The Everglades: A Ride South To Flamingo Visitor Center

Flamingo Everglades hike (1 of 25)
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 I was undecided on where to hike on my first full day  in the Everglades. I have been here before and there are so many great options.  Abundant wildlife and beautiful scenery are everywhere.  I was up early and drove into the park in the morning twilight. I was going to decide on the way. farm fields in morning twilight

There was almost no  traffic at this early hour so I decided to drive the 40 miles to the southernmost point of the park at the Flamingo visitor center. pine trees in twilight in Everglades

I tried to reach the Pahayokee Trail by sunrise. There are many  cypress trees in this  area of the Everglades. They make a good background for the rising sun.  I have taken some beautiful pictures here in the past. I was too late. The sun had already risen. close up of sunrise in Everglades

I still took a few quick  photographs and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the dawning of a new day in the  Everglades.sunrise in the Everglades  

The  birds were now awakening and I saw egrets, crows and herons  flying above the trees as I drove. I didn’t stop but continued on to the lakes and ponds further south.pond sign in Everglades

I was disappointed when I arrived at the lakes. In the past they were crowded with all types of water birds. Not this time.Mrazek pond in Everglades

There were a few white egrets, some cardinals and this brown pelican. However there   were not  near the numbers I had seen in the past. I had visited the park  in January. I learned that by April many of the water birds have already migrated northward. So they were probably back in Pennsylvania enjoying the 70 degree weather!!!. Here is a link to some more photographs from my drive to the Flamingo Visitor Center. brown pelican in flight

I drove to the Flamingo visitor center. It has a large marina for the many boaters who visit. There are also the now rare American crocodiles in this area. Manatees too.   I have never seen either. Florida Bay from Flamingo Visitor center

I roamed around the empty marina and walked to a campground. I found an old road which I began to follow. old road in Flamingo Everglades

It was  a beautiful trail. Again I saw a few cardinals. I  was also surprised to see, and hear, a lot of red bellied woodpeckers in the Everglades. red-bellied woodpecker

I continued my walk on this scenic trail. clouds and trees on trail

I spotted this hawk in a tree overlooking the trail.hawk in tree

I am not good at identifying hawks and I am guessing it may be an immature red shouldered or broad shouldered hawk.   hawk in flight

I also encountered this fellow. I am pretty sure it is a red shouldered hawk. Here is a link to some more photographs of this stately hawks. Everglades Flamingo hawks April 12 2018.red shouldered hawk in flight

 I loved walking on  this road, which I  soon learned, ran into the Coastal Prairie trail. There was not a person out here. 

I followed the trail  out enjoying the exotic sub=tropical plants and some beautiful flowers along the way. There were a lot of these white ones in bloom.white flower along trail

There were also thousands  of dragonflies fluttering along the trail. They were  much more skittish, and harder to photograph,  than their Pennsylvania cousins.dragonfly on branch

They were everywhere, reminding me again of the movie Avatar. There were also thousands of mosquitoes and some type of deer or horse  fly. They sure liked me. It was maddening walking along the trail. I am still itching from the hundreds of bites I received. Well no one promised me a rose garden when you  hiking in the Everglades. Here is a link to some more photographs of some dragonflies. Everglades Flamingo hike dragonflies. April 12  2018dragonfly on stem

The trail became narrower.   I heard a few snakes slither in the thick brush. I usually am not afraid of snakes back home because I know their habitat and I am on my guard. Not here. I was keeping my eyes peeled, not know what was in those woods and how aggressive they would be. thick plant growth on trail

I also saw this at the start of the trail. I think it maybe a very large python track. They are not native but have become a pest in the Everglades. I was hoping to see one but no such luck. possible snake track on trail

I came to, and took, the Bayou trail loop. As the rail neared  the Florida bay, the bay  was almost unapproachable because of the thick growth of mangrove trees along it’s shore.mangrove trees

I found a lot of tiny crabs on the trail. And even more biting and stinging insects. I got two wasp or bees stings. crab on ground

The trail ended at an old concrete structure. i returned hearing a lot of birds in the brush. I was able to photograph on of them, this pretty common yellow throat. common yellow throat in tree

I also saw this osprey flying overhead. Here is a link to some more of the birds I saw on my hike. Everglades, Flamingo hike birds. April 12 2018. Osprey in flight

It was still early, maybe 10 o’clock but it was getting hot, the insects were brutal and I was hungry so I decided to walk back. I was glad to stumble upon this wonderful trail. Here is a link to some more photographs from my hike. Everglades, Flamingo , Coastal Prairie hike April 12 2018

I took a slow ride back, enjoying the beauty of the Everglades as I drove. . I made a stop at another of the many lakes along the way,  West lake,  and hiked the 1/2 mile boardwalk trail to the lake.

It is the dry season and the trees were leafless and there were only a few birds and lizards along the trail . 

At the lake I heard the roar of this jet flying overhead. There is a air force in Homestead and they often train over the Everglades. 

I continued my drive back to Florida City and made one more stop at the  Mahogany Hammock Trail. 

Another boardwalk trail it meanders through a hammock. or limestone hill that creates an island in the Everglades sea of grass. 

It is an oasis for wildlife. The large trees, including the rare mahogany trees, provide a canopy of shade from the hot Florida sun.

I saw a lot of birds including this black and white warbler, 

a few of these warblers which I haven’t identified,

and this hawk who was just as interested in me as I was of it. I watched him or her for about 15 minutes.hawk in tree

And this black vulture was watching from above. I was getting hungrier so I decided to leave the hammock and the Everglades and head back to town.   Here is a link to some more photographs from my visit to the hammock. Everglades Mahogany Hammock April 12 2018. black vulture

I drove back to Florida city and had a nice breakfast at the Farmstead Restaurant before relaxing for a few hours at the pool of my hotel.. I love Florida.  

Like music and art, love of nature is a common language that can transcend political or social boundaries – Jimmy Carter