Sunday, January 30, 2022

Nature Journal - January 2022

This year I made a resolution to hike at least once a week, and I wanted to make a little nature diary every month of the places I go.  Here are the 26 hiking miles and places I explored in January💮

Micco Scrub and Grant Flatwoods Sanctuary

After a year at my new place, I finally explored more of the trails around me this month!  Micco Scrub Sanctuary was my first hike of the year, and I'm so sad I've been missing out on this gem that's a mere 8min away from me.  This preserve is part of Brevard's EEL (Environmentally Endangered Lands) program, and contains over 1300 acres of this county's last remaining scrubby/mesic flatwoods.  It was a nice quiet hike alone (until I underestimated how long it would take and made it back to my car at sunset 😬)  Grant Flatwoods Sanctuary is another EEL preserve, with this one containing 2600 acres of pine flatwoods, cypress domes, oak hammocks, and depression marshes.  Both of these places have been super lovely for birding, flower hunting, and deer stare-offs so far.

Ancestral land of the Seminole and Ais people.

Micco Water Management Area and Sebastian Stormwater Park

When I lived with my parents, the Sebastian Stormwater Park was right around the corner and one of my favorite places to walk with Maddy.  Now that I'm in Micco, I have a new water management park nearby - the Micco Water Management Area.  Both of these parks are part of a system of ponds/restored wetlands that work to remove pollutants from the St. John's watershed before it is released back into the Indian River Lagoon, and in the process of creating natural water filters, they attract a lot of wildlife!  I ran into a bunch of wading birds, loggerhead shrikes, a loud pileated woodpecker, and tons of bella moths popping up from the grasses.

The Micco WMA is part of an even larger system of 42 restoration/conservation areas along the St. John's River that filter our drinking water and preserve our aquatic ecosystems, and also has trails connecting to the St. Sebastian River State Park - a longleaf pine forest I'm planning on hiking more of in February :p

Ancestral land of the Seminole and Ais people.

This great blue heron took the biggest shit I've ever seen

Evening Beach Strolls and Wabasso Causeway

When I get too sick of sitting at my desk but don't have enough time for a hike, I'm trying to make a habit of ending the day with a beach stroll.  It's a 30min drive, but always worth it.  One night my weather app lied to me and it was raining on the beach, but I stopped by the causeway over the bridge on my way home and caught a glimpse of two bottlenose dolphins playing in the rain<3

Jordan Scrub Sanctuary

Jordan Scrub is yet another EEL preserve near me, and might be my favorite hike from this month<3  I met up with my girl Steff and we wandered through the 354 acres of scenic lakes, seasonal marshes, and scrubby flatwoods.  Some of the highlights were a juvenile bald eagle SWOOPING over our heads, so many wildflowers blooming after a recent prescribed burn (including lots of carnivorous flowers), and a flock of... at least 1000 grackles gathering together on the powerlines at sunset 😱

Ancestral land of the Seminole and Ais people.

St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park

Okay so I hit up this park before February lol.  My final hike of the month was the Yellow Trail at go'geous St. Sebastian River Preserve State Park.  This large state park contains over 60mi of trails and 22,000 acres of wilderness, including some of the country's last remaining longleaf pine habitats.  Longleaf pine forests use to cover the majority of the southeastern US, but today less than 5% of it's original range remains due to logging and habitat destruction (a greater depletion than coral reefs and the Amazon rainforest).  These trees are also the preferred nesting habitats of a unique and critically endangered bird - the Red-cockaded woodpecker.  Unlike most woodpeckers who choose dead trees to build their nest cavities in, the RC woodpecker only nests in living longleaf pines that have been softened by red heart fungi, and their cavities can take up to 6 years to build!  Ya gotta be tough if ya wanna work harder.

There is SO much to love and learn about this ecosystem, so I'm very glad I live close enough to come back many more times<3

Ancestral land of the Seminole and Ais people.