I volunteered on Saturday but yesterday I just went to hang out and explore. I walked down to the Keys Coastal Habitat, which is in the southeast section of the garden known as the lowlands.
The habitat, with existing marsh and mangroves, was planted with Florida native species, principally those from the Florida Keys, that are attractive to birds throughout the year, but with a special emphasis on migrant species.In the Keys Coastal Habitat, you'll find a winding trail and a wilderness within easy access of urban Miami -- a great respite from the city. Though there are residential backyards literally next door, it's a very peaceful place.
The habitat is a great way to see what the original Florida might've looked like. Existing vegetation was enhanced with other species that thrive in this kind of ecosystem. The trail is full of labels and tags on many trees and shrubs. If you're interested in learning about native gardening, this is a great resource.
Yesterday, I did not actually see any birds -- the only wildlife I saw was a squirrel! I also thought I heard something growl, but you know me, I have an overactive imagination. I also ran into a big cobweb and did a little cursing.
I am told though that with patience you will find a lot of birds here. There are a few posts in the lowlands for raptor nests, but those are currently empty.
If you come to visit this part of the garden, be prepared for a long, lovely walk. The trail begins at the end of the coconut grove, which you'll find by the lake (there is a tiki hut and bench at the grove's entrance).
I recommend you bring comfortable shoes. The best time of the year to visit the trail is during the cooler months when there are fewer mosquitoes. (I actually did not get bit once during my tour.) The trail is not paved but very worn and clear, with several connected detours. Also, unlike Matheson Hammock's mangrove trail, this one is pretty much above water level so I don't think it would get flooded during high tide, though the trail felt moist under my sneakers.
I live streamed from my phone. Click the play button below if you want to join me during part of my exploration; it's about 12 minutes long.