Frozen Iguanas? A Familiar, But Frosty, Hike At Dagny Johnson State Park In Key Largo
I have been visiting Key Largo for a few years now. I have hiked in the Dagny Johnson Key Largo Hammock Botanical State Park many times and have come to love this park located on the northern end of the key. . A failed land development was turned into a State Park. The park contains the largest remaining contiguous tracts of subtropical West Indian hardwood hammock still found in the continental United States. I have enjoyed walking it’s trails and seeing the wildlife that lives there. You can search my many blog posts with the archive search tool on my blog website and learn more about the park, it’s history and some of the critters I have seen over the years.
So, when I was in Key Largo on my recent visit to South Florida and the Keys I planned to hike there again. This time, however, it was different. A cold front brought near record cold weather to the Keys. The temperature was in the low 40’s when I arrived at Dagny Johnson Park on Sunday morning. This was the coldest temperature I experienced on any of my visits to Key Largo. I usually see a lot of birds, lizards and, unfortunately, mosquitoes on my hikes. Not this time. There were no birds or other critters active as I walked through the trees in the native hardwood hammock before sunrise.
It was cold. I didn’t see any birds but I did hear a lot of gray catbirds and northern cardinals. They weren’t moving. They appeared to be staying close to the ground and they were very noisy. I don’t think they liked the cold either. I walked along a canal created for the land development and made it to a lagoon where I watched,
I continued my hike as the sun rose in the southeastern sky. It was still cold and there was not much wildlife activity. I heard more gray catbirds and northern cardinals but they were not were staying close to the ground. I also heard, and finally saw, a few yellow-rumped warblers.
Not on this hike, nothing was stirring in the cold. The good thing was there were no mosquitoes. I remember been attacked by swarms of mosquitoes on this trail. Although I didn’t see any wildlife activity, the footprints in the mud let me know there were still a lot of critters here, but probably huddled up trying to stay warm.
I have seen many species of birds in the large trees the section of the trails but, again, there were none on this cold January morning. I heard some more gray catbirds and northern cardinals but they were still staying close to the ground and not flying up into the trees.
I am still trying to learn the many rare and endangered trees that grow in this hardwood hammock of Dagny Johnson State Park. I know a few, including, of course, poisonwood, and these leaves of the wild coffee trees, but so many are still unfamiliar to me.
then I remembered reading about how these cold blooded reptiles fall from trees when the temperatures drop. And sure enough, with some gentile prodding this fellow opened it’s eyes. It looked so helpless. If I had more time I would have waited for it to revive but I had to check out of my hotel and move on the the Everglades.
I finished my four mile hike in Dagny Johnson State Park, disappointed that I didn’t see more wildlife, but glad to have enjoyed the beauty and solitude of this nature sanctuary and having experienced the sight of a frozen reptile. Here is a link to a gallery on my blog website with more photos from my hike in Dagny Johnson State Park. Florida Day Six Key Largo morning hike January 15 2023.
I made it back to my hotel in time to grab a quick breakfast. I was in a hurry to get to the Everglades so I decided to eat at the hotel. It wasn’t the best but it wasn’t too bad. I was soon on the road again, hoping I would have more luck with the wildlife in the Everglades.
There are no words that can tell the hidden spirit of the wilderness, that can reveal its mystery, its melancholy, and its charm. Theodore Roosevelt