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Christmas in Florida

Part 8:  Palm Beach Area

I’m definitely hitting the point of diminishing returns, as I only picked up one new species for the Florida portion of the trip the next day, but I saw some lovely areas and some neat sights, nonetheless!  Started at John MacArthur State Park, which was a dud bird-wise only because I hit it at high tide!  (The ranger told me to come back at 4:30; afraid I couldn't do it...)  But it had a great little boardwalk across the lagoon and to the beach, where the wind was whipping and the Ospreys were having a ball just hanging in the wind!  (The vultures were, too, but the Ospreys were prettier...)  The lagoon itself was pretty empty except for a single cormorant and a distant flock of RB Mergansers, but evidently during low tide the place is just stuffed with stuff; just another reason to come back, I guess!

  Hiked the little Satinleaf Nature Trail after that, which produced another little flock of mad gnatcatchers, but the hurricane damage was pretty evident on this trail.  Found out later that it was the combined efforts of Francis and Jean that whalloped this area (Jonathan Dickinson State Park really got clobbered, which is where I ended up the day).

      

Lagoon at John MacArthur State Park and trail to the beach

  

Boardwalk to the beach

                    

Ospreys and Brown Pelicans (adult above, immature below) hang in the on-shore winds! 

Finished that up pretty quickly, so decided to check out a couple of nearby inland areas mentioned in the Brown Bin Book.  The first one was called Loxahatchee Preserve in the book, but the place I found that fit the same description was actually called Grassy Waters Preserve.  They had a neat little boardwalk into a small cypress swamp and overlooking some sawgrass, but again was pretty quiet; the most interesting thing was a mewing sapsucker.  Then I zipped over to J.W. Corbett WMA, where the guy let me in for free seeing as I was just going to hike the Hungryland Boardwalk (I only had a 20).  This was a nice flatwood pine area with lots of palmettos, but again, no birds to speak of; I actually got rained out, so I left early, startling a mom wild boar and her three piglets!  I stopped a few times on the dirt road going out, picking up the only new Florida bird, a Cedar Waxwing.

       

Entrance to Grassy Waters Preserve, where a boardwalk takes you through the cypress forest

Views of the "grassy waters" with nature center

Hungryland Trail at the J.W. Corbett WMA

Headed over to J Dickinson after that, where the sun was out and I had a nice time walking the trails.  Again, pretty quiet, but like I said, the hurricane damage here was something else!  The segment of the Florida Trail that I took right at the entrance looked as though it could have been good for Florida Jays, but nada.  The Hobe Mountain Tower was a workout, with a nice view of the surrounding area, but nothing but a pair of Black Vultures and a lot of families out having a big time!  Drove down the road to the Kitching Creek Nature Trail, which again looked great for Bachman's Sparrows, but nuttin' but another whistling Osprey overhead and a "chung"ing Red-bellied Woodpecker.

               

Hurricane damage and Deer Moss along the Florida Trail at J. Dickinson State Park

         

Hobe "Mountain" Trail and view from the top

       

Pine flatwood habitat along the Kitching Creek Trail

        

Possible Yellowbelly Slider along the creek

Headed up to Fort Pierce after that, being treated to a wonderful full rainbow at the hotel!  (I was hoping that was a good omen for the next day!) 

Continue to Savannas Preserve

Return to Key Biscayne