Florida Day Two:The Everglades: A Ride South To Flamingo Visitor Center
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.
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.
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.
I still took a few quick photographs and enjoyed the peace and quiet of the dawning of a new day 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.
I was disappointed when I arrived at the lakes. In the past they were crowded with all types of water birds. Not this time.
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.
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.
I roamed around the empty marina and walked to a campground. I found an old road which I began to follow.
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.
I continued my walk on this scenic trail.
I spotted this hawk in a tree overlooking the trail.
I am not good at identifying hawks and I am guessing it may be an immature red shouldered or broad shouldered hawk.
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.
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.
There were also thousands of dragonflies fluttering along the trail. They were much more skittish, and harder to photograph, than their Pennsylvania cousins.
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 2018
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.
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.
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.
I found a lot of tiny crabs on the trail. And even more biting and stinging insects. I got two wasp or bees stings.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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