Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Made it to The Keys

We visited Corkscrew Swamp and Ding Darling National Wildlife Refuge on our way here, and will catch up with those places in later blogs.

But to get current, we want to let you know that we've arrived at Key Deer NWR on Big Pine Key. It is in the Lower Keys, about 30 miles from the end of the road in Key West. There is a whole lot of bridge connecting these small islands.
Seven Mile Bridge
This refuge was created to protect Key Deer, which are the smallest subspecies of the Northern White-tailed Deer. This group of deer was isolated on the Keys when the seas receded long, long ago. The food supply here is somewhat limited and the climate very warm, so they evolved into a subspecies that are significantly smaller than their northern cousins. To be honest, they don't appear to be a great deal smaller than some of the stunted Texas Hill Country deer!!
Key Deer
There are three volunteer sites here. One is occupied by our friends Penny and Earnie who we volunteered with at Santa Ana back in 2011, and the other by a single volunteer named Bob. The sites are in a private area of the refuge and are very nice.
RV Site at Key Deer NWR
So far we're a little up in the air on what we will be doing. We met with our coordinator Kristie and she has given us plenty of things to choose from. We plan to help with or lead nature walks, participate in some kid's programs with Penny, and whatever else they ask us to do.

We did get a chance to assist with the Friends Group's monthly Full Moon Kayak Trip. We helped people get squared away with their kayaks, paddles, life vests, and flashlights, and got them into the water. We all paddled out to a mangrove covered shoreline and watched the sun set while the moon came up. Everyone paddled back in after dark and we helped get folks out of the water, then put all of the gear up. 
Kayaking alongside Red Mangroves
Sunset over Big Pine Key
Stay tuned for more adventures from Key Deer NWR...



  1. The deer down in the RGV looked pretty small to me too. Not at all like the big bruisers up north that are pretty much corn fed. ;)

    I'd be interested to know how many hours are required/week for the solo volunteer.

  2. We'll ask about the hours Judy and let you know.

  3. Looks like a great place to be... and your volunteer "duties" sound interesting.

  4. Happy you made it safely. Hoping the weather is better there than here at Santa Ana. We had a wind chill of 20 degrees today. Brrr. But it is better than being up north.

    1. It got down to 60 degrees here this morning, which is by far the coolest it has been. Up till now lows have been 72 - 75 degrees!! This is a warm, humid spot for sure...