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Christmas in Florida

Part 9:  Savannas Preserve State Park

Joked with the receptionist on the way out about the baby that was having a tantrum next door all night (she could hear it all the way down the hall evidently, and at one point the mom rode her around for awhile trying to get her to fall asleep—didn’t work…) At any rate, wound up the year checking out Savannas State Preserve, checking the little county park off Midway Road first.  The second gate was still closed, so I couldn't go to the "end of the road" as described in the ABA guide, but I could take a little footbridge over to an island and walk around a little.  The best birds here were a pair of Sandhill Cranes and a young Little Blue heron who was totally oblivious.


Savanna County Park (which opens before the state park) with trail on the other side of the footbridge


Immature Little Blue Herons are ironically all white! 

Decided to make a circle, so I headed to highway 707 and went south along the coast, pretending to be "local traffic only" as they were doing major cleanup from the hurricanes (actually, I guess I was "local traffic" as I was looking for access points to the preserve).  And damage there was: most of the docks had been blown out, and I saw a lot of "For Sale" signs along the street!  There really weren't any spots to pull over, but there just happened to be a wide dirt area across from a spot where a ton of shorebirds were feeding close to the shore!  Most of them were Sanderlings and Ruddy Turnstones, but the real prize was a cute little Piping Plover doing his little plover thing!  A bigger Black-bellied fed close by as well.

The BBB mentioned a little trail called Hawk's Bluff, and I miraculously found the thing as it's nestled in a little residential area off Jensen Beach Blvd. and Savannah Road.  It went through storm-damaged woodland and dumped out on a lovely overview of the marsh, where another pair of Sandhill Cranes allowed close approach!  There was also a large flock of Glossy Ibis and a pair of Mottled Ducks feeding.  A pair of Fish Crows sailed in, and the male (I'm assuming) walked up to his mate and gave her a little bite to eat!  How sweet!


View of the marsh from the Hawk’s Bluff Trail; can you find the two Sandhill Cranes in the left hand shot?  You’d never guess this lush wilderness is in the middle of a suburban neighborhood!

I was heading to US 1 to get to Walton, when I flew past a new access point right there on Jensen Beach!  So I made a U-ie and wheeled in, and had a nice little hike through the pine flatwoods; dead as a doornail, but it was a nice walk.  The other access point off Walton Road at Sandhill Crane Park was also pretty dead except for a pair of dull Pine Warblers.  Found the road to the canoe launch just up Walton, and enjoyed a couple of Anhingas chasing each other under water in the marsh there!  Alas, no Brown-headed Nuthatches or Bachman's Sparrows (although seeing the latter would be a miracle this time of year, anyway...)


Surprise trail off Jensen Beach Road, and more pine flatwoods near Sandhill Crane Park


Cocky Mockingbird back at the park.  Birds are constantly shifting positions on their perch, but rarely do you catch one in mid-shift!


Views at the canoe launch

Was pretty tired when I finished that up, but decided to check out Fort Pierce Inlet before heading to Sebring.  Got my wind back as I found a parking spot along with all the surfer-dudes, and enjoyed watching the para-surfers while waiting for gulls and shorebirds to come by!  (A Bonie was new, and a young Great BB was always a delight to see...)  A hike through the Coastal Hammock Trail kicked up a quiet Red-bellied Woodpecker excavating for goodies, but that was about it.  A quick walk down the Marsh Rabbit Run on Jack Island was quiet as well, but I certainly got my exercise in today.

Drove in to Sebring, hoping the New Year's Eve party the receptionist warned me about wouldn't be too terribly loud...! L (It wasn’t; I didn’t even hear anything…)


Boardwalk to the beach at Fort Pierce Inlet State Park, where parasurfers ride the waves!


Coastal Hammock Trail

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