|I did not take long to spot a Key Deer, this little guy was hanging out by the Winn Dixie. later we found out the the butchers toss out old lettuce and stuff for them.|
|The Big Pine Key Roosters were the nosiest, we figured they had been dropped off here by the Key West Natives.|
|This was the third and Largest of the Key Deer we spotted.|
|This is the Blue Hole, one of the few sources of fresh water in all the Keys and a great place to see all sorts of wildlife.|
This was the start of our Iguana Stories to be featured in a later post.
|These two guys were competing for food, territory or something?|
|Looking for a Handout.|
|This Little Grebe has a look of wonder in his eye.|
|Real Big turtles here.|
|Home at last after a lot of Hiking!|
Big Pine Key and the National Key Deer Refuge
We have been hearing about the Key Deer over on Big Pine Key, just about 20 miles South of Marathon. On one of our return trips from Key West the bus bus driver pointed out a couple near the highway but it was dark and you could just make out the shapes in the dark. The Admiral scouted out the National Key Deer Refuge at http://www.fws.gov/nationalkeydeer/ . We took the early bus to Big Pine Key and walked the short distance to a shopping center where the Refuge office was located. Right there not far from the Winn Dixie we spotted our first Key Deer. He was about the size of a Labrador. We followed him around for about 20 minutes as he snacked on the shrubbery and whatever he was finding on the ground. The Refuge Visitors Center was right there so we checked in to get maps and see what to do. They suggested the Blue Hole, We asked how far it was since we were on foot and they said two miles. So we took off hiking and the Two miles soon felt like 3 or 4. We spotted two more Key Deer along the way, one was the biggest and he was about the size of a Great Dane. After I got there I checked the distance on the Iphone and it was 2.7 miles. Holy cow, we would have to walk that back in the full tropical sun/heat of the day + all the other walking we had already done that morning. The Blue Hole is an attraction on the island of Big Pine Key in the Florida Keys. It is an abandoned rock quarry that was used for nearby road fills and Henry Flagler's Overseas Railroad. The water it contains is mostly fresh and is used by various wildlife in the area, such as birds, snakes, alligators, key deer and green iguanas. It is part of the National Key Deer Refuge. The Bottom Layer of the Blue Hole is salt water that seeps in through the coral Rock so it forms a Lense of sorts and is very clear. A couple of volunteers from the Visitors Center were there to answer questions and spot the wildlife. Few birds were in sight at first but they spotted several very large Iguanas for us. Once you know how to look for them you can easily find them on your on. Two were nearby competing for either territory or food, The Big guy seemed to have won but later he climbed to a lower branch and we soon heard a big splash. did not know if he dove in or lost his grip but the guys from the visitors center said they often dive in. One told of an experience where he was Kayaking and a Iguana swam by. He tried to keep up with the Iguana on his Kayak but the Iguana was to fast and he easily outran this fit looking 20 yr old. He said you can would be amazed to see how fast they are in the water.Of course we saw turtles, an alligator, a few birds, and some colorful fish, but no more Key Deer. The best part was they had a bench to sit on to recover from the hike. On the Hike back we saw nothing but Hundreds of Black Vultures, later we found out they migrate to the Keys for the winter. Just when we needed it most an Oasis appeared, Coco's Kitchen http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34085-d518645-Reviews-Coco_s_Kitchen-Big_Pine_Key_Florida_Keys_Florida.html . The place was packed and we took the last table. I can't remember what we ate but is was Great! As we were walking back to the Bus we could see Fat Albert in the distance, the Admiral got a pic. You have to read the Story about Fat Albert at http://www.n-the-florida-keys.com/Fat-Albert.html , This story is told by anyone you ask about the Blimp and as far as I am concerned it is True!