The limited re-opening of the beaches on Monday meant Karl and I once again feel comfortable venturing into the open parks and preserves. The hiking trails at Brooker Creek Preserve remained open through the closure of so many parks and the beaches, and we received feedback that it was often crowded along with the few other places open. As it is a thirty to forty minute drive from here, more depending on traffic, we hesitated to make the trip only to find crowds. We took and still take our social distancing seriously. With beaches open, most people flock to them so Karl suggested we take a chance.
We arrived about 7:15 a.m., shortly after the gate opened. At the end of the nearly one mile drive to the parking lot, we discovered no other cars; we were the first and only for the start of the day.
We saw a Pileated woodpecker as we parked, and heard a Northern Parula as soon as we left the car. We searched for the parula, hearing but not seeing, but did catch a glimpse of two Carolina wrens flitting through the trees. Green salvinia covered the main channel of the creek itself, not unusual with the warm weather and lack of rain. We walked to the bridge, and then retraced our steps and took the boardwalk down to the buildings and into the wetland behind them. After walking to the end of the boardwalk, we decided to walk back along it to capture some shots while the light was still good. A very polite couple came along asked to pass by us so we stepped aside.
We walked slowly, photographing and savoring the damp open air of the swamp. Suddenly we heard a bellowing, which stopped and repeated four times. Karl’s hearing is amazing; he can triangulate easily and is always showing me the precise location of birds when he hears their calls. In this case he pointed to an overgrown, grassy area of the water and said “He is right in there”. “He” in this case meaning a male alligator. He was close, but kept to the grass and we didn’t get to see him.
We passed by the window of the Center to wave to the dedicated staff inside, and then headed back to the car. The beautiful weather together with the eventful hike really helped shake the slightly claustrophobic feeling we were both developing.