Wednesday, March 14, 2018

The Florida Keys

We spent a week at Key Largo enjoying the beautiful sunrises over the mangrove islands.  We also had another beautiful full moon in the clear, warm skies.

We had quite a few of the Curly-tailed Lizards around the Key Largo Kampground.

Blue-headed Vireo

White-winged Dove

Short-tailed Hawk - dark morph

On Ty's birthday, we drove south on the one road through the keys to our destination at Key West.  We stopped at Big Pine Key and the National Wildlife Refuge for the endangered Key Deer.  We found a doe and yearling along the road in exactly the same place we found them 5 years ago.  It's amazing that they survived Hurricane Irma as well as they did when we see the damage that was done in this area.

We arrived at Boyd's Campground and the next morning had this beautiful sunrise.  We walked a mile to the Tropical Botanical Gardens that display the many Cuban Palms such as this Petticoat Palm.  There were many plants and birds to enjoy along their boardwalk.
Black Racer


Wilson's Warbler

Green Anole

Brown Pelican takes off

We took the Key West transit bus to Zachary Taylor State Park, of course the bus didn't stop at the park so we had a long walk too.  The beautiful turquoise waters of the Caribbean enhanced our birding experience.

Of course there is a historical fort to explore, this was built during the Civil War and also used in World Wars I & II.
10" Rodman Cannon

Timing is everything - a Northern Gannet does a fly-by

Hammock Skipper

Female Magnificent Frigatebird

Lion Fish

When we left the park, we stopped at the Eco-Discovery Center with displays, movies, and aquariums that covered the surrounding environment of Key West.  When talking to a volunteer about how to get to a bus stop to return to Stock Island, this wonderful lady offered us a ride back as she was finishing her time of duty.  We thankfully accepted, not wanting another long bus trip.
There were at least 65 Iguanas sunning in the Mangroves by our campground

On March 13th, we boarded the Yankee Freedom National Park Boat for a trip to the Dry Tortugas National Park and a few hours of exploring at Fort Jefferson.
Everyone was thankful to see the Fort as we had a very rough ride with 5 to 7 foot waves in the Rebecca Channel
(many sick passengers, thankfully not us)

Our boat 

Ruddy Turnstone

Royal Tern and Laughing Gulls

Inside the huge Fort Jefferson

From the top of the fort looking toward Bush Key where thousands of sea birds nest

Brown Noddies, Sooty Terns and Magnificent Frigatebirds

Brown Noddy

Brown Noddies argue over perch

Sooty Tern

Sooty Tern checking out nesting sites

Male Magnificent Frigatebird

Magnificent Frigatebird picking up nesting material

We asked the Captain to go by Hospital Key on the way back for a closer look at the Masked Boobies that nest here.
There is one Brown Booby in the middle of this flock, you will need your binoculars to find it.

Love & Prayers,  Ty & Ida

Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Biscayne Bay & Everglades

We took a drive to the Atlantic Ocean at Biscayne Bay National Park and walked the boardwalk around the visitor's center area.  Our one great find was the Great White Heron, this subspecies of the Great Blue Heron is only found in South Florida.
That's enough pictures, I'm leaving!

Saltmarsh Morning Glory

As we were wandering the roads north of the park we decided to go into Black Point Park, never knowing what you may find.  God led us to an"angel" with a scope on a Mangrove Cuckoo.  We pulled over and found out this man was a bird guide from Miami and his name was Angel!  We had wonderful looks at this bird which was our first ever in North America.  They have a wonderful, bazaar chattering call that can't be mistaken for any other bird.

Mangrove Cuckoo catches a bite, juicy green caterpillar 

Lesser Black-backed Gull on Biscayne Bay

Narrowleaf White-top Sedge

Red-headed Agama

Northern Parula

Yellow-throated Vireo

Young White Ibis coming into adult plumage 

Black & White Warbler

Palm Warbler

Headed back into the Everglades before sunrise to walk the Snake Bight Trail before it got too hot.  The beginning of the two mile walk to Florida Bay was green and birds calling all along the way, until we got closer to the water......
Beach Morning Glory

Tree Snail

Brown Anole

Coral Bean


This is what greeted us near the end of the trail.  Thousands of dead mangrove trees, all the roots covered in a foot of mud.  It was the result of Hurricane Irma's surge of salt water and ocean bottom coming in and over staying it's welcome.
Boardwalk at the end of Snake Bight Trail

Storm trapped water turned red, algae?

Louisiana Waterthrush

At the Flamingo Marina, one of the American Crocodiles was out sunning on the boat ramp.  He gave a nice smile for the camera,  good thing Ty has a long lens, don't want to get too close to this 12 foot monster.

In the time since we were here last, the Osprey chicks had hatched.  Full time job for both parents feeding these two hungry babes.

Roseate Spoonbill at Paurotis Pond

Painted Bunting female and Indigo Bunting young male

There's a run-down area of the Everglades north of Homestead that we went to explore, the old Grossman Hammock, that is not in use.  We asked a Ranger if we could drive in on the old roads, and they said it was open, but be careful!  Ha!  We found lots of birds: herons, egrets, Wood Storks, kingfishers and of course some more Painted Buntings.  There were alligators every half mile along the canals, and soft-shelled turtles.  Very quite except for an occasional plane overhead. 

Today is our last day in Homestead and lots of chores to do before leaving.  Looking forward to our next adventure heading for the Keys tomorrow.
Love & Prayers,  Ty & Ida Baumann