Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Beach Time at Bahia Honda State Park

Our last day in the Keys, just had to do some time at the beach!  The day started out cool and windy, but all was good in that regard by afternoon.  The sun was up high and quite warm.  Instead of heading for the beach immediately John and I chose to first walk the Silver Palm Trail at the park.  The trail forms a loop through a hammock, mangrove area, dune and along the beach.  The silver palms along the trail represent one of the greatest concentrations in the state.  They are becoming increasingly rare as people illegally remove them from their natural habitat to plant them in residential areas.
We picked up a park brochure which helped us on our self-guided tour of the trail.  It claimed that the palms will eventually be shaded out and a dense canopy of branches will be formed by the Gumbo Limbo, Poisonwood, Jamaica Dogwood and other hardwoods
.  This is just not the time of year to find many blooming plants or bushes.  The lantana bush had a few flowers on it and there was a smattering of morning glory flowers, what a surprise when we came upon an orchid!  Coming down to the Keys last week we noticed many roadside stands selling this flower.
 At the end of our trail, just as we were starting on the beach trail, we encountered a yellow-crowned night heron.  He paid us no mind, as he was busily snapping up insects out of the weeds, at least that is what we think he was doing.  We were able to get quite close to him and he did not even glance at us.
It was a great day at the beach for birdwatching.  Pictured above is the ruddy turnstone, which is in the sandpiper family.  He has a striking black-and-white head and bib.  We saw many turnstones running along the shore.  They use their bills to flip aside pebbles and stones in search of food.  We also saw a double-crested cormorant and a willet off in the distance feeding in the water, as well as one young ibis feeding along the  shore.  The beach also has a goodly amount of colorful small shells, I can never walk by them without putting a few in my pocket.  The beach also had basket sponges, I so wished that I had a garden here in Florida - they would serve as wonderful natural planters!
Yesterday, Tuesday, we moved our home to Fort Myers.  Part of that trip was along a canal where many shorebirds as storks, egrets, herons and anhingas were hanging out- either along the shore, in the water, or up in the trees.  We even saw several alligators sunning themselves along the shoreline.  Flashing yellow road signs along the highway warned us to watch out for wildlife crossing the road.  Fortunately we never had to brake suddenly for any creatures!

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