A Short Hike along St. John’s River

Just a brief post to say hi. I’m back home and trying to catch up on all the wonderful posts you, my friends, have produced while I was away. I had a whirlwind trip, but managed to get in a couple of hours of hiking on Saturday in the Timucuan Ecological & Historical Preserve along the St. John’s River in North Florida.

preserve jungle jaxThis huge and very interesting preserve represents one of the last unspoiled coastal wetlands on the Atlantic Coast. It would have required at least a full day or two to properly experience the beauty of its salt marshes, coastal dunes, and hardwood hammocks.

drift wood on the beach in jax

And to explore 6000 years of human history within it boundaries.  This preserve  marks the place where one of the Timucuan tribes met the first French explorers in 1562.  Sadly, this meeting, and the French and Spanish settlers that soon followed, represented the beginning of the end of the longstanding Timucuan culture.

native american hut jax

The preserve also houses an exhibit of Fort Carolina originally built by the first French settlers on the river bank.

fort in jax

We didn’t have the time to reach the wetlands where I could have found birds to “shoot”, but I could hear them everywhere in the jungle-like forest.

ecological preserve jax

The only bird I managed to capture on this short hike was a Turkey Vulture who enjoyed the winds above the river.

turkey vulture 2 jax

Stopping along the river we spotted several schools of dolphins, most of them too far out for me to get a picture.

dolphins in st johns river jax

The preserve also has ongoing ecological research projects in the many different types of habitats it houses. We stumbled upon one of the vegetation projects on our hike through the maritime hammock.

ecological project jax

It was a compact hike, but gave me a taste of what this preserve has to offer. I hope to return one day with better time to explore the beauty of its habitats, and its birds, properly.

st johns river 4 jax

I hope your week is going great. Get out and enjoy nature! Tiny – here leaning on a “twin” tree in the hardwood hammock.

Hiking in North FL

60 thoughts on “A Short Hike along St. John’s River”

  1. Welcome back! Looks like such an interesting hike you managed to “squeeze in” – love those colours on the Turkey Vulture’s wings. 🙂

    1. Thanks Joanne! This super compact hike made me want to go back, but it’s good to be home too. Already checked on my friends at the salt marsh early this morning 🙂

    1. These guys are big birds, and they love gliding on the winds, often high up in the sky. I haven’t spotted one here since last winter.

    1. Thanks Cyndi. I just had to get “out there” between all other programming. The tiny Tiny was quite tired…95F and humid in the forest 🙂

    1. Thanks for your kind comment, Jet. I forgot to mention that the Timucua women used to wear skirts made of cured Spanish moss, which is not a moss at all, but a flowering, epiphytic plant belonging to the Bromeliad family 🙂

  2. Looks like a very interesting place. The rainforest type vegetation is similar to our tropical veg up the north end of our country, and like in all rainforests with tall thick tree canopy and darkness, you can hear the birds but never see the birds. This is the same difficulty I have in our tall eucalypt forests. This is why open spaces or breaks are good for birding. Your flight shot of the turkey vulture was great Tiny. Thanks for sharing, hope you had a great time away, and have been refreshed by the change of scenery etc.

    1. I was actually thinking of one of your recent posts from the rainforest when hiking there as I could not spot one of the birds I heard 🙂 I stopped and looked, but could see nothing. The large wetlands were much further out than what we had the time to hike…and it was hot/humid. I had a great time away. Thank you!

    1. There are traces of human history reaching 6000 years back in that area. Next time (I hope) I’ll have an opportunity to explore that more. Now I’ll just need to explore the salt marsh 🙂

    1. It was a super interesting place! One day I hope to show much more from there. Thanks for coming along on this short, virtual hike, Susan.

    1. Thanks Frank. There’s so much to explore in that preserve, but please take your time there… when the weather is a bit cooler as the forests don’t allow for much breeze until you come to the river. I’m definitely planning to go back, but missed the Orlando Wetlands again. Had planned to visit on Sunday afternoon and had it all planned out, but the weather didn’t collaborate this time.

        1. Oops! Pushed the wrong button. That’s embarrassing… As I was saying, is there much left of Timucuan culture in terms of artefacts? I followed the link on the page, which interesting, but I couldn’t see much about what remains today. (I was probably just looking in the wrong place, though.)

          1. I can’t reply with any accuracy because I didn’t have the time to explore this interesting topic, but there’s an educational center with exhibits about their culture, and I understand there are some ancient shell collections and other traces of the Timucua people in the area. That’s what I’d like to explore further, next time.

  3. Tiny, lucky you to have visited this gorgeous place. I could have spent weeks there …. as I am sure you could have too. Magnificent images and I especially LOVE the one of you!! It is so nice to actually see you, my friend! Welcome home!!! (((HUGS))) Amy ❤

    1. Thank you, Alice, for your visit and taking the time to comment. It was a beautiful preserve that definitely needs further explorations.

    1. It was a great preserve to visit…from my tiny spot at the salt marsh to something huge 🙂 But I was only scratching the surface 🙂

  4. What a great trip you had, Helen. I had to look up the exact meaning of ‘hardwood hammocks’. An interesting name. I’m only used to one type of hammock. 😀 Great capture of the Turkey Vulture!

    1. I also know the hammock you talk about 🙂 and learned about the other hammocks only when I started to hike here in FL. The Turkey Vulture was kind enough to show up…otherwise I wouldn’t have a bird among my hiking photos. And there always needs to be at least one 😀

    1. That was a great little hike. I wished the dolphins would have been a bit closer. They were calmly swimming along, and didn’t come up much so it was difficult to catch them 🙂

  5. *sigh* We are still a few weeks off from nature-hiking with regularity. Thanks for sharing yours for us to hike vicariously. Temps are only just now dipping down into the high 80’s, and now that school’s in session, we just don’t have the spare time. We are anxiously awaiting fall migration; pack up field lenses and DEET to go see what little birdies we can spot while simultaneously swatting at swarming mosquitoes. Fun!

    1. I’m so lucky as we rarely have a mosquito on our island here at home. I guess they don’t like the sea breeze. But when I go hiking elsewhere I always have the pleasure of their company. Fall migration is around the corner and I’m looking forward to it too!

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