Yesterday was another great hike. Connie did some work in the morning then we had lunch before we headed off about 20 miles Northeast to the Fort Center Wildlife Management Area.
Fort Center is an area where the United States Army had a garrison during the Seminole Indian War; the garrison supported mostly surveying routes into the everglades. An indigenous population of Belle Glade Indians also lived in the area and the hike encompassed both their living areas and burial mounds. Unfortunately the mounds were abandoned about 700 years ago and have disintegrated into nothing more than slight rises and depressions in a mix of swampland and prairie.
The hike was a 5 mile out and back jaunt on a shell road. There was a 0.9 mile nature trail off to one side of the road but it was pretty overgrown and we were worried about water moccasins laying about waiting on us so we passed on taking the trail. Nonetheless; Connie did an excellent job of spotting wildlife while we hiked. Our first encounter was with a spotted skunk right at the beginning of the hike as we came down off of the observation tower.
Obviously we stayed well away from him so as not to end up stinky. Heading down the path Neil spotted this Short Tailed King Snake…er, Dusky Pygmy Rattlesnake actually…got a comment 5 years later from Willie D pointing out the error…he’s right and I dunno why we misidentified this one way back when.; we got some pictures of him crawling across the road and then Neil poked him with his hiking stick to get him to coil up for a better picture. Don’t worry…even though Neil poked him with his hiking stick we stay well away from _all_ snakes.
We saw some nice purple berries along the way shortly before the turnaround.
On the way back it was getting on towards sunset and a bit more of the fauna was out and about. Connie spotted a couple of Whitetail Deer crossing the road about 200 yards in front of us.
Then we saw this little guy and darned if he didn’t offer me 15% off on car insurance.
Next was this huge Orb Weaver Spider right next to the road.
Finally we arrived back at the observation tower again; made sure that our friend the spotted skunk was nowhere to be irritated by our climbing up and sat on the tower for awhile watching for the birds to come out. We spotted a Great Egret (also known as a Great White Heron) as well as a female Red Shouldered Hawk in a nearby tree. We wandered down the road a bit to get better photos of her.
Neil really needs to think about getting himself a longer lens for bird shots; cropping them reduces the image quality a bit. After this we hopped back in the car and headed home. We did see two bald eagles sitting on top of consecutive light towers along the road on the way back but were not able to get a picture as there was no place to pull over even though it was a 2 lane road and too much traffic to stop in the road itself. It was strange to see two such territorial birds perched that close together though.
We got home and had a shower at the bath house then got back to the rig around sunset. Neil declared it to be a Dark and Stormy night so broke out the Gosling’s Rum and Ginger Beer for the cocktail hour. He warmed up some leftover short ribs and biscuits from the other night for dinner and they polished off a bit of leftover merlot while eating. Then it was TV until time for bed.
Today is a do nothing day; Neil’s going on a run a bit later then we’re watching the Alabama-Texas A&M game this afternoon. Maybe they’ll go down to the Gator Bait Pub for dinner if he doesn’t feel like cooking the chicken he took out. Tomorrow is Mass then we’re headed off to the cemetery where Connie’s parents are buried for a visit. We might just make it a day and have lunch somewhere over in the Palm Beach area while we’re out that way since it’s about a 80 or so mile drive over there.